Mickelson On Top at Hogans Alley

By Associated PressFebruary 16, 2008, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenPACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. --Phil Mickelson knew immediately that he was going to enjoy this walk at Riviera.
 
Under blue skies off Sunset Boulevard, the last trace of wind was on its way out of town, leaving Mickelson and the late starters Friday afternoon in the Northern Trust Open with a second straight day of the easiest conditions. Then came a 3-iron from 247 yards on the par-5 first hole that was so true it left him 12 feet away for eagle.
 
He settled for a birdie, but that sent him on his way toward the top of the leaderboard, a position that is becoming familiar on this storied course of shotmaking and precision.
 
'I thought that was a nice way to start the round, because it wasn't an easy pin to get up-and-down from a lot of places around the green,' Mickelson said.
 
What followed was a mixture of solid shots, some wizardry with his wedges and one big putt, a 60-footer that dropped into the center of the cup on its final turn for birdie at No. 5.
 
When he finished his round with a 20-foot birdie to strong applause from the fans scattered above the 18th green, Mickelson had a career best at Riviera, a 7-under 64 that gave him a four-shot lead. He was at 10-under 132, poised for the second straight year to capture a title in the one city on the West Coast swing that has eluded him over the years.
 
'A lot of putts went in,' he said. 'Shots ended up close. It was a good day.'
 
Robert Allenby, who won at Riviera in a cold rain and a six-man playoff in 2001, ran off four straight birdies around the turn and finished with six straight pars for a 66 that put him at 6-under 136, along with Jeff Quinney (137).
 
The group at 137 included Chad Campbell, Scott Verplank and Scott McCarron, a UCLA grad who nearly won this tournament in 2002.
 
For those who faced a cold wind Thursday afternoon and more swirling breezes Friday morning, the best anyone could muster was David Toms (68) and Kevin Sutherland (69), each at 3-under 139.
 
'It was interesting, the last 27 holes that I've played with the wind and everything,' Toms said. 'You certainly had to think about it on your club selection. It made a lot of the holes play very difficult. Overall, I'll take the two rounds I've put on the board.'
 
For the second straight day, not everyone finished the round before dark. It got so bad that Charlie Hoffman had time to go to the pretzel stand between the second green and the third tee.
 
'So there will be a Saturday cut,' quipped Rory Sabbatini on his way to the 18th tee as the sun began to dip behind the hill, and players were still just making the turn.
 
The Players Advisory Council recommended this week another change in policy to a Saturday cut if the field is more than 78 players. If approved, that wouldn't happen until Florida at the earliest. Otherwise, when the cut is more than 78 players, only the closest to 70 can play on the weekend, and the notorious 'Rule 78' nearly happened for the third time in five events.
 
It came down to a 4-foot putt.
 
John Merrick, one of six players who returned Saturday morning to finish the second round, came up short of the ninth green and chipped 4 feet by the hole. He missed his par putt to finish at 4 over, meaning that 78 players made the cut at 3 over.
 
If Merrick had made the par putt, 79 players would have been at 3 over, and only 69 players would have teed off in the third round.
 
None of this mattered to Mickelson, of course.
 
Lefty is in his element on the West Coast, winning 15 of his 32 titles in either California or Arizona, everywhere from Palm Springs to Pebble Beach, from Torrey Pines to La Costa, Tucson and Phoenix. Everywhere but Los Angeles.
 
He said he is desperate to add this trophy to his collection, and someone asked him Friday if this was the one tournament he wanted.
 
'Well, I haven't won the U.S. or British Open either, and I really want to win those,' he said. 'But let's not jump ahead of ourselves.'
 
The guys chasing him were not jumping to any conclusions.
 
'If Phil is at 10 under, that's fine,' Allenby said. 'There's a long way to go. There's still 36 holes to go and a lot of birdies out there. I've made plenty of birdies here before, so there's no reason why I can't do it on the weekend.'
 
Quinney will join Mickelson and Allenby in the final group. Quinney made a late surge up the leaderboard, including birdies on the 12th and 15th holes, but ran into trouble on the last hole.
 
Four shots behind the second-ranked player in golf can be daunting, but so is Riviera.
 
'You don't have to shoot 8 under on Saturday,' Quinney said about the deficit. 'If you get firm greens and the wind blows a little bit, a couple under can move you a long way.'
 
Even so, Mickelson appears to be hitting his stride.
 
Strangely enough, Riviera had not been kind to him in the past. It was not part of his regular schedule on the West Coast, and when he did play, hardly anyone noticed. Until last year, Mickelson had missed the cut in four of eight appearances in the Northern Trust Open, and never finished better than a tie for 15th.
 
Last year, however, he was on the verge of victory until a bogey on the 18th hole and a playoff loss to Charles Howell III. Now, he takes a four-shot lead into the weekend and is as optimistic as ever.
 
'I don't know why it's turned,' he said. 'When I played last year, I felt really good on the course, and I felt I was going to play well. And I felt heading into this week I was really close to playing well.'
 
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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.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.