Notes Americans dominate Leftys wild ride

By Associated PressFebruary 25, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' Only 17 Americans played in the Accenture Match Play Championship, the fewest in the event that began in 1999.
They posted a 13-4 record in the opening round Wednesday ' and one of the losses came when Steve Stricker beat fellow American Dustin Johnson.
By contrast, the 20 Europeans in the field went 10-10, with Peter Hanson beating fellow Swede Robert Karlsson in the only match between Europeans.
Only 19 of the 47 international players won their first-round matches. The largest remaining international contingent is from England, with six players surviving.
Not a lot of Americans in the field, to tell you the truth, Stricker said.
Stricker will face Ernie Els, a South African, in the second round.
The most notable victory by an American may have been Pat Perezs 1-up victory over Irelands Padraig Harrington, the worlds No. 3 golfer.
Obviously, winning is a huge confidence, said Perez, who lives in Scottsdale. But once you start beating guys like him, the confidence just keeps going up.

LEFTY PULLS IT OUT: Three days after winning the Northern Trust Open, Phil Mickelson was 4-up over Angel Cabrera with five holes to play.
Then Mickelsons lead evaporated into the desert air.
Cabrera rallied to force sudden death before Mickelson recovered to win in 19 holes, birdieing the par-4 first hole.
I was fortunate to win in sudden death, but Ill gladly take it, Mickelson said.
Cabrera trimmed Mickelsons lead with a par on the 14th hole and birdies on the next three holes, squaring the match on the 17th. Both players parred the 18th, with Cabrera rolling in a 10-footer to force sudden death.
I give him a lot of credit for gutting it out, Mickelson said. I was fortunate to come out on top with somebody that was really getting hot there at the end.
Mickelson, ranked fifth in the world, advanced to face Zach Johnson, who beat Graeme McDowell 3 and 1. Mickelson improved to 14-9 in match play.

BIG EASY, FINALLY: Ernie Els headed to his hotel after his opening match Wednesday, which was a refreshing change.
The Big Easy usually goes to the airport.
Els ran off three straight birdies late in his match against Soren Hansen for a 4-and-2 victory, advancing to the second round for the first time in seven years. He skipped two years when it was held at La Costa Resort, a course he never liked.
Glad to get through, Els said.
The last time he won in this event, Els defeated Jeff Sluman, 4 and 3, at La Costa in 2002.
Els is a six-time champion of the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, but the only time he has advanced beyond the third round of the Accenture Match Play Championship was in 2001, when he finished fourth in Australia.
Then again, the World Match Play is 36 holes per match, leaving a greater margin for error. Plus, Els has a home at Wentworth in England, and even helped redesign the course.
Its more of a sprint here, he said. If you get off to a bad start, its hard to get back into it.

OVERTIME: In a match between two players who had won at least 80 percent of their matches, former 2006 Match Play winner Geoff Ogilvy survived a scare from 2002 winner Kevin Sutherland before winning in 19 holes.
I was hoping on the 17th tee to not go down 19, obviously, Ogilvy said.
He should have expected it.
The year Sutherland won, he was 2 down with two holes to play until winning the next two holes against David Duval, then beating him in 20 holes. Sutherland almost did it again. He won the 17th hole with a par, then holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th.
Ogilvy, however, got up-and-down from the bunker on the 19th hole (No. 1), to advance to the second round.

NO WORRIES, MATE: Australia turned out to be a good place to tune up for the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Anthony Kim, Lee Westwood and Camilo Villegas all fought off jet lag to win their opening-round matches after competing in the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia, last week.
I know I have not slept for more than three hours in a row for two weeks, said Westwood, who beat Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand 2 and 1. It is part of professional golf. We play all over the world now and you have to be able to adapt to time change.
Westwood finished his match before noon Wednesday ' or 4 a.m. Thursday in Perth.
Villegas romped past Australian Rod Pampling in 12 holes (7 and 6).
Kim defeated Lin Wen-Tang of Taiwan in 13 holes (7 and 5). Kim estimated that he logged 47 hours in planes in the last two weeks as he traveled between tournaments in Malaysia and Australia, then flew back to the United States.
Kim said working out helped him recover from jet lag quicker.
Im definitely getting better, but at the same time Im in better shape, so its easier for me to find my rhythm as far as getting to the gym and then going and playing, he said.
Kim advanced to a second-round match against Englands Oliver Wilson, a 3-and-1 winner over South Koreas K.J. Choi.
(Kim) has been on a long trip back from Australia, so maybe a bit of jet leg will kick in, Wilson said.

OUCH!: As if losing to Davis Love III in 21 holes wasnt painful enough, Henrik Stenson had a brush with a cactus on the second extra hole.
Stenson hit his tee shot into a tangle of prickly chollas on the par-5 2nd hole. He managed to extricate his ball but not before backing into a cactus.
As Stenson trudged back to the fairway, he had to pick a cluster of needles off his purple shirt. Ive got tweezers, one fan called out.
I was all over the place, right and left and unfortunately not often in between, Stenson said. Lot of desert visits and picking up cactus. Bit painful at times up the back, especially on the second extra hole.

Related Links:
  • Match Play Scoring
  • Full Coverage ' Tiger's Return
  • Match Play Bracket
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.