Mickelson Stays on Top Furyk Fades

By Associated PressFebruary 10, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. --The conditions were the toughest Phil Mickelson has faced in eight months, a day of survival when it was important to keep the ball in play and keep big numbers off the scorecard.
 
That's the kind of language often used at the U.S. Open.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is looking for his first PGA TOUR win since last year's Masters. (WireImage)
This was only the wet, cold, windy and miserable Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where patience is tested not because of 6-inch rough but six-hour rounds. The similarity Saturday was Mickelson tied for the lead going into the final round, the first time he's been in that position since last summer at Winged Foot.
 
All he has to do now is write a better ending, although redemption didn't even cross his mind.
 
'I don't really think in those terms,' Mickelson said. 'I would like to get off to a good start this year, and I love playing this tournament, having won it a couple of times. It would be nice to get momentum on the West Coast.'
 
Mickelson made only two small errors at Spyglass Hill and shot a 2-under 70, putting him at 14-under 202. He was tied with Kevin Sutherland, who birdied the last hole at Poppy Hills and also found himself in a familiar spot.
 
It was the second time in three weeks he birdied the last hole to get into the final round. And it was the second time all the focus was on somebody else. He had Tiger Woods in the group ahead of him at Torrey Pines. Now he gets Mickelson at his side at Pebble Beach.
 
'That's to be expected,' Sutherland said. 'I'm playing well right now. I'm shooting scores that I should be shooting given the way I'm playing, so I feel good about tomorrow.'
 
John Mallinger, a 27-year-old rookie, had a 68 at Poppy and was one shot behind.
 
Mickelson is perfecting his swing by the day, and what helped this week was the perfect rotation of courses. He played Pebble Beach on Friday, the only day the wind didn't blow much, and shot 67.
 
Sutherland opened with a 72 at Pebble Beach on Thursday and rallied at Spyglass and Poppy.
 
Jim Furyk had to take on rain that fell sideways in 20 mph gusts at Pebble Beach on Saturday, and it was costly. He hit a fairway metal for his second shot on the par-4 10th over the cliffs and took double bogey, and wound up with a 76, six shots behind.
 
'A tough day to be at Pebble,' he said. 'I could have done a lot better job. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow.'
 
More 'Crosby' weather was in the forecast for Sunday, and that was OK with Mickelson. While he has started slowly this year after a four-month layoff, he is most pleased with the ease in hitting draws, fade and low, piercing tee shots.
 
The key if the weather gets bad is to drive the ball well,' he said. 'You have to put the ball in place because from the rough or the bunkers, you're just fighting for par the whole time. I'm actually really excited about my chances. I've been driving it better than I think I ever have, and I'm excited about putting it to the test here.'
 
Aiding his chances are the limited number of contenders.
 
The 42-year-old Sutherland plays his best golf in his native California, but his only PGA TOUR victory came five years ago down the coast at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
He was one shot out of the lead going into the last round at the Buick Invitational, but closed with a 74 and tied for 14th.
 
Mallinger, making only his eighth career start on the PGA TOUR and his fourth this year, made his first bogey of the week by missing a 3-foot par putt on his 15th hole, then went birdie-bogey-birdie to give himself a chance.
 
Some big names are atop the leaderboard, but they have a lot of ground to cover.
 
Davis Love III shot 70 at Spyglass and Corey Pavin shot 67 at Pebble Beach. They were tied for fourth at 9-under 207. Vijay Singh was poised to move a little closer to the top until hitting a tee shot into the ocean, another shot over the corporate boxes on the 18th at Pebble Beach and making double bogey to shoot 71. He was eight shots behind, along with Tom Watson, who had a 72 at Spyglass.
 
Furyk knew what he was in for when he arrived on the putting green and the wind was already rustling through the Monterey pines. Once he got out to the six holes along the Pacific, the flags were bending at a 90-degree angle and trouble was waiting on every miss.
 
He didn't miss many, except for the putts. Furyk hit the ball so clean that he gave himself birdie putts inside 18 feet five times in the first seven holes, finally converting after hitting a 7-iron from 106 yards on the downhill seventh.
 
Furyk was even par, two shots behind, when he hit a pedestrian drive on the 451-yard 10th and had a 3-wood left into a strong wind coming into him and off the ocean on the right. It hung over the cliffs and stayed there, dropping into a sandy area next to a fence. He wound up with double bogey, then dropped two more shots as the weather got worse.
 
Divots
Bill Murray gave tournament director Ollie Nutt a scare on the first tee. He asked for quiet, then informed the gallery that this would be his last appearance in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. After setting up over his ball, he looked back up and added, 'As an amateur.' Then he ripped one down the middle as the crowd roared. ... The celebrity presence at the AT&T was best defined by a marshal on the 14th fairway. There was laughter and cheering ahead on the 15th tee, and he was asked who was in the group ahead. 'Kevin Costner, Don Cheadle and ... I'm not sure who the other two guys are,' he said. Those would have been the PGA TOUR players, Dean Wilson and D.J. Trahan. OK, so they're not household names, but still. ... Tom Watson is eight shots behind, but still happy over one goal -- he and son Michael made the pro-am cut and are tied for second.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.