Mickelson Spectacular in Victory

By Associated PressMay 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- His caddie loosened the flag from the 18th pin as a symbol of victory Sunday at THE PLAYERS Championship, and Phil Mickelson added a personal touch.
 
'Butch, the 1st of many.'
 
After playing one of his tidiest rounds on one of the most intimidating golf courses, Mickelson signed his name at the bottom of the note and handed it to his new swing coach, Butch Harmon. Arms around each other's shoulders, they walked up the hill toward the sprawling clubhouse for the trophy presentation, another sign that Mickelson might be on the rise.
 
'What's most exciting is I feel like we're just getting started,' Mickelson said.
 
In his third week with a new coach and a new plan, Mickelson suddenly looks better than ever.
 
He missed only four fairways and two greens, and had only one bogey when it no longer mattered. Mickelson closed with a 3-under 69 for a two-shot victory, adding a mini-major to his collection and renewed hope that even bigger trophies await.
 
'If I keep working at these things and keep progressing, I should be able to take on the ultimate tough challenge at Oakmont,' Mickelson said, already looking ahead to the U.S. Open next month.
 
This wasn't Phil the Thrill.
 
Having built a two-shot lead heading to the frightening island green on the par-3 17th, he left the attacking to someone else.
 
Sean O'Hair paid dearly.
 
O'Hair matched Mickelson shot-for-shot along the back nine at the TPC Sawgrass, unable to convert birdie putts to close the gap. He felt he had no choice but to go after the pin on the 17th, and was shocked when his 9-iron sailed over the green.
 
'You've got to make something happen,' O'Hair said. 'I didn't bust my butt for four days to get second place. Obviously, I paid for it.'
 
Mickelson finished at 11-under 277 for a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia, who closed with a 66 with four birdies on the last five holes. But he was only a ceremonial runner-up. The victim was O'Hair, the culprit that familiar and infamous island green.
 
He hit another ball in the water from the drop area and wound up with a quadruple-bogey 7, and his bogey on the 18th hole gave him a 76 and dropped him from second place to 11th place, the difference of $747,000.
 
'You can't force anything on the 17 and 18, you just can't,' O'Hair said. 'I had to today. I didn't have a choice.'
 
Attribute that to Mickelson, who took one hole to erase a one-shot deficit, pulled ahead for good with a par on the 10th hole and didn't miss a fairway over the final five holes.
 
Mickelson moved up to No. 2 in the world with his second victory of the year, and the 31st of his career. He earned $1.62 million from the richest purse in golf ($9 million) and trails Tiger Woods by only $60,000 on the money list, and 98 points in the FedEx Cup.
 
Woods still has twice as many points in the world ranking and likely will stay there for the rest of this year. Mickelson now has a new strategy, a new coach, and renewed hope.
 
'You're just seeing the tip of the iceberg,' said Harmon, who previously worked with Greg Norman and Woods when they rose to No. 1 in the world. 'He's going to get a lot better.'
 
Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal fired off a string of birdies for the third straight day and nearly got into the mix. His fourth straight birdie on No. 12 got him within three shots of the lead, but a bogey on No. 15 stalled his bid and he settled for a 67 to tie for third with Stewart Cink (66).
 
On this day, Woods finished before Mickelson and O'Hair sat down for lunch.
 
After going from bunker to water for a double bogey on the fourth hole, it looked as though Woods might go an entire week without shooting par or better, something he had only done in three majors. But four straight birdies around the turn and a 10-foot eagle on the 16th sent him to a 67 to finish at 288.
 
'I knew I could shoot a round in the 60s here if I'd just make a few putts, and I did today,' Woods said.
 
Eight players were within four shots of O'Hair at the start of the final round, and that number dwindled quickly when only three of those players -- Mickelson, Jose Coceres and Carl Petterson -- made a birdie through the first five holes.
 
Mickelson again met with Harmon for a two-hour session on the practice range some six hours before he teed off, and they worked again before he headed to the first tee.
 
'He's got as much talent as anyone in the world, other than maybe Tiger,' Harmon said. 'If we can get him to play out of the fairway, he can rival Tiger.'
 
Lefty looked irritated with his first drive, a low, sweeping fade that started out over the water before finding the fairway. But he wasted no time catching O'Hair.
 
Mickelson holed a 25-foot birdie putt at No. 1, and O'Hair stayed in the lead by making a 7-footer for par. O'Hair had to make a nervy 4-footer on the next hole to match birdies with Mickelson, and the kid followed with two bunker saves to stay atop the leaderboard.
 
The start of the back nine turned in Mickelson's favor.
 
From a fairway bunker, O'Hair bounced his approach over the green and played a full flop that came out strong and went through the green into more rough. He chipped short and made his first bogey to fall one shot behind.
 
O'Hair appeared to have the advantage on the par-5 11th when Mickelson found the right rough and played a risky shot with a hybrid to the left portion of the fairway. O'Hair had a shot at the green, and his ball came up a yard short of perfect, instead dropping down the slope and into the bunker. It was a simple shot, but O'Hair caught it heavy and settled for par. Mickelson nearly holed his wedge and made a 4-footer for birdie, and suddenly the lead was two shots.
 
'I don't think I lost it on 11,' O'Hair said. 'I think I lost the momentum on 11.'
 
They traded pars the rest of the way, both missing a few good birdie chances on the 15th and 16th.
 
That gave Mickelson a two-shot cushion playing the island green, one of the few holes were he aims for the middle of the green. That's where he hit it Sunday, leaving the risk -- and penalty -- to someone else.
 
The only excitement from Mickelson came on the 18th, when his 6-iron flirted with the banks of the lake.
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.