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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    CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.06 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

    1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
    2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
    T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
    T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
    T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
    T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
    T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
    T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
    T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
    T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
    T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
    T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
    T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
    T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
    T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
    T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
    T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
    T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
    T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
    T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
    T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
    T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
    T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
    T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
    T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
    T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
    T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
    T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
    T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
    T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
    T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
    T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
    T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
    T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
    T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
    T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
    T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
    T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
    T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
    T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
    T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
    T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
    T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
    T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
    T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
    T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
    T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
    T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
    T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
    T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
    T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
    T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
    T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
    T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
    T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
    T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
    T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
    T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
    T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
    T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
    T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
    T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
    T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
    T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
    T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
    T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
    T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
    T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
    T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
    T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
    T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
    T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
    T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
    T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
    75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
    76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
    77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.