Mickelson Solid Tiger Shaky at Sawgrass

By Associated PressMay 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The wind was strong enough to knock branches from palm trees and keep Tiger Woods without a birdie on his card for the first time in four years. It really got blustery when Rory Sabbatini completed a 5-under 67 Thursday to share the first-round lead with Phil Mickelson at THE PLAYERS Championship.
 
Sabbatini, a pint-sized South African, is not short on confidence, even after calling out Woods last week and losing to him.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods got off to a shaky start at THE PLAYERS. (WireImage).
'I think he's more beatable than ever,' Sabbatini said.
 
In a grueling start on the refurbished TPC Sawgrass, where gusts reached 39 mph and made the island green look even more terrifying, Woods wasn't much of a threat to anyone. He had only four good looks at birdie, three-putted three times and had to save par from 90 feet behind the green on his final hole for a 3-over 75, matching his highest score at THE PLAYERS.
 
It was his first round without a birdie since the opening round of the 2003 Masters.
 
'The greens are a little bit tricky to read,' Woods said. 'Different grain out there than we're used to, and I had a tougher time than the guys at the top of the board.'
 
Mickelson had no problem. In his third week working with swing coach Butch Harmon, he birdied the first two holes and held it together with a nifty par save from an awkward slope around the seventh green to join Sabbatini at 67.
 
Chris DiMarco, winless in five years and now coping with a bum shoulder, shot 68 for his best round of the year. Peter Lonard was 3 under. Only 16 players broke par, and Retief Goosen had the only bogey-free round.
 
The famed par-3 17th played extremely tough, with 50 balls landing in the water. It broke the single-round tournament record of 45 set in 2000.
 
As co-leaders, Sabbatini and Mickelson represent a contrast in many ways, particularly their attitude toward the world's No. 1 player. Mickelson said this week that he relishes competing against Woods, and he has beaten him a fair amount, including three majors.
 
But he also realizes that he can never match Woods' record of 57 TOUR victories and 12 majors.
 
Sabbatini shows no fear, and is one of the few players who openly invites a chance to take on Woods -- even after last week at the Wachovia Championship, where Sabbatini had a one-shot lead until closing with a 74 to Woods' 69.
 
Sabbatini said he wanted Woods in the final group every week. Told that Woods opened with a 75, Sabbatini said, 'I want him to pick it up and we'll be up there late on Sunday.'
 
Sabbatini, with three PGA TOUR victories and a runner-up finish (with Woods) at the Masters last month, did his part. He chipped in for birdie on the 18th hole (he started at No. 10) for a rare birdie, and he was the only player among early starters to reach 6 under until dropping his only shot on No. 7, when he found a greenside bunker.
 
His obsession with Woods dates to a year ago, when Sabbatini won the Nissan Open. Woods withdrew on the weekend with the flu, although he was never in contention. Even so, Sabbatini said he had heard whispers that his victory at Riviera didn't mean much because Woods wasn't around, and he was eager to prove himself last week.
 
'When people play with Tiger, they stand and watch the show and not participate,' Sabbatini said. 'I'm not someone to watch the show. I'm there to participate and win. I want to be paired with Tiger in the last group on Sunday here this week.'
 
Sabbatini has been brash before. He was so irritated by the slow pace of Ben Crane at a tournament two years ago that he walked off the green in protest. When he was paired with Nick Faldo at THE PLAYERS last year, his wife wore a shirt that read, 'Keep Up.'
 
But the timing of Thursday's remarks were odd. Woods beat him by five shots last Sunday at Quail Hollow, and the world's No. 1 player has won nine of his last 12 starts on the PGA TOUR.
 
What makes him so beatable?
 
'I've seen Tiger when he hits the ball well,' Sabbatini said. 'And I've seen Tiger when there's not a facet of his game that you're not amazed. But I think Sunday, he struggled out there. He had to battle for that win. And I think that made me realize ... he's as beatable as ever. I've seen him when he figures it out. It's scary. I don't want to see that anymore. I like the new Tiger.'
 
Woods was long gone after Sabbatini's comments, and he didn't have much of an explanation.
 
The Stadium Course might look the same -- that green on No. 17 is still an island -- but the grass is now Bermuda because of a move to May, and Woods relies heavily on his memory to read greens. He felt these were different, and it showed.
 
He didn't hit too many wild shots, but he rarely hit the ball terribly close. He three-putted No. 16 for par, three-putted from the front of the green on No. 4 for bogey and added another three-putt bogey on No. 8.
 
'I had three three-putts today, and consequently 3-over par,' Woods said. 'Just got to make a few more putts.'
 
It was a relatively quiet day for Mickelson, once he got by the 17th. He hit six balls in a practice round before hitting the island green, and he was as nervous as anyone standing on the tee. The wind was blowing hard into the players, yet there were brief moments when it would shift and blow sideways.
 
His 8-iron landed in the rough on the right side of the green, next to a sprinkler. He took a drop, made his par, and off he went. Mickelson is not shaping the ball as much as he used to, and it has taken him time to get comfortable aiming between the ropes. And he sometimes has tried to alter his swing to account for so much wind.
 
'I felt very good today,' he said. 'I hit a lot of good shots in some strong winds and was able to keep the ball in control. My misses were very small, and that allowed me to take a lot of the big trouble out of play that I had found in the past.'
 
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    Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

    The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


    2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


    And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

    Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

    Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

    Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

    Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.