Notes Lefty looks for answers Toms example

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2009, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenFifteen of his 34 victories have come during the West Coast swing, but the fact Phil Mickelson has failed to break 70 this year does not mean its time for him to panic just yet.
 
Even so, Mickelson only has two tournaments left ' the Northern Trust Open and the Accenture Match Play Championship ' to avoid leaving the West Coast without a single top 10 for the first time in his 17 years on the PGA Tour.
 
Its been more challenging this year, for whatever reason, Mickelson said after he made a daring birdie on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach to make the cut on the number. He wound up tied for 55th when the final round was rained out.
 
Mickelson struggled with his driver at the FBR Open and missed the cut. He didnt hole enough putts at Torrey Pines and tied for 42nd in the Buick Invitational. And whatever progress he was making at Pebble Beach was halted with one bad swing.
 
Lefty birdied his first three holes and was 3 under for the tournament until he hooked a 5-iron with a left-to-right wind. The ball hit a cart path and went out of bounds, leading to triple bogey. It was his second OB in as many days' on the other one, he salvaged a bogey on a par 5 at Poppy Hills.
 
Im making dumb mistakes, a couple of squirrelly shots, I havent putted the best, Mickelson said.
 
Lefty has won on the West Coast seven of the last nine years, and he has had at least two top 10s on the West Coast during that stretch. The two years he won the Masters (2004, 2006), he had at least four top 10s in California and Arizona.
 
Mickelson is coming up on the two-year anniversary of when he began working with Butch Harmon, and while he lost the summer of 07 due to a wrist injury, there remains speculation that his two-coach system isnt best for his game.
 
Dave Pelz works with his short game and supplies more statistics than most golfers can digest. The long game belongs to Harmon, who is built more toward feel.
 
Mickelson has been around too long to worry over a ragged start, although he is starting to grind. In the hour before Sundays round at Pebble Beach was suspended because of rain, Mickelson was a lone figure on the range as he went through five buckets of balls.
 

 
TOMS' EXAMPLE: Over the last decade, there has been talk that some players on the bubble to qualify for a World Golf Championship would skip a tournament to improve their ranking.
 
David Toms faced such a dilemma last week.
 
He was at No. 66 in the world ranking, knowing that Pebble Beach was the final tournament before the 64-man field would be set for the Accenture Match Play Championship. If he sat out ' Toms had not played Pebble since 2002 ' his divisor would drop to 41 tournaments and his average points would be slightly higher.
 
I know if I play this tournament and I play well, Ill get in, Toms said before the tournament. Thats the way I looked at it. I was up in the mountains and I said, If I finish 65th and I didnt get in Id probably have that feeling that I didnt give it my best shot.
 
Heres how it played out:
 
With the gradual reduction in points each week, Toms would have moved to No. 62 in the world had he not played Pebble. Because he missed the cut, his divisor went to 42 tournaments and he received no points, losing all hope of finishing in the top 64.
 
And if he had stayed home from Pebble?
 
Three players moved into the top 64 ' Dustin Johnson, who won Pebble, and Anders Hansen and Charl Schwartzel, who went 1-2 in South Africa ' so Toms would have wound up at No. 65.
 
Ultimately, he set a good example of players on the bubble. Its better to play than to leave matters to someone else. Toms had a pair of top 5s this year in three starts this year, and would have needed to finish 28th at Pebble Beach.
 

 
FACT CHECK: Robert Garrigus either didnt do the math or has been listening to one too many tales about how the world ranking is biased against Americans.
 
I dont know if you guys knew, but Kenny Perry won in Phoenix and lost two spots in the world ranking, which is ridiculous, Garrigus said last week. I think that there needs to be some kind of change to that because if you get the top players in the smaller events, your world ranking points are better.
 
He then noted that Rory McIlroy won Dubai and went from No. 68 to No. 15.
 
In fact, Perry went from No. 15 to No. 9 with his victory in the FBR Open. McIlroy went from No. 39 to No. 16.
 
Garrigus probably doesnt realize that the FBR Open actually offered more world ranking points than Dubai.
 

 
MIA: Anthony Kim grew up in Los Angeles and spent his last few years of high school in the Palm Springs area. But the West Coast swing will end without Kim at either of the PGA Tour stops in his hometowns.
 
He missed the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic with a shoulder injury, leaving Mark Calcavecchia to quip, Has he heard of Advil?
 
More peculiar is how Kim could miss the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. Instead, he is playing on the European Tour for the second straight week, this time at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia.
 
Kim has played only twice on the PGA Tour this year, tying for second in Kapalua and missing the cut in Phoenix.
 

 
DIVOTS: Art Spander, a longtime columnist in the Bay Area, will receive the 2009 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. Spander first covered the Masters in 1967, and he has written from 120 major championships. He will be honored April 8 in Augusta, Ga., at the Golf Writers Association of Americas annual awards dinner. The Northern Trust Open has seven of the top 15 players in the world. There were 12 of the top 15 at Riviera last year, a number that trailed only the four majors, three World Golf Championships and The Players Championship. Renowned saxophonist Kenny G will sponsor the pro-am at the Honda Classic. As part of the deal, he also will perform on the 18th green before the winner gets his trophy.
 

 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Europe has more players (20) than the United States (17) in the Accenture Match Play Championship for the first time since it began in 1999. In the first year, there were 40 Americans and 11 Europeans.
 

 
FINAL WORD: When I was 15 years of age and I made it onto the Irish boys golf team, I thought I was famous. My picture was in the paper. Gradually, it has crept up. ' Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington.
 

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  • Whan details LPGA changes for 2018 and beyond

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 8:56 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Race to the CME Globe’s season-long series and its big-bang finish at the CME Group Tour Championship are secured for another six years.

    Tour commissioner Mike Whan announced a contract extension with CME Group through 2023 in his annual state-of-the-tour address Thursday at the Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Whan also outlined changes to next year’s tournament schedule and detailed specifics of the revamp of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, with a new Q-School Series devised as the final stage beginning next year.

    Highlights from Whan’s address:

    Extending the CME Race . . .

    The Race to the CME Globe, a season-long competition for a $1 million jackpot, will be played at least six more years, with Whan announcing a contract extension through 2023.

    “We’re pretty excited about that,” Whan said.

    The LPGA is also close to finalizing details that will keep the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    2018 schedule will include two new West Coast events . . .

    The LPGA is likely going to lose three events next year, but it will gain three new ones, leaving the tour with 34 events, including the UL International Crown. That’s the same number of events being played this year. Total prize money is expected to reach $69 million, up from the record $65 million played for this season.


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    The Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada is off next year’s schedule, and the Lorena Ochoa Match Play also is not expected to return. The McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open is not returning, but only because it is sliding off the schedule to move up early on the 2019 schedule.

    Whan said two new West Coast events are being added, and they will be positioned on the calendar next to the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, to give players more reasons to stay out west.

    Whan said there’s also a new international event being added to the schedule, but details of the new events won’t be released until the full schedule is released sometime after Thanksgiving.

    “I hope you’ll agree that stability and predictability haven’t always been the calling card of the LPGA, but it has been the last few years,” Whan said. “I’m proud to tell you that the revenues of the LPGA in the last five or six years are up almost 90 percent. We have added 20 title sponsors and over 20 official marketing partners in the last five or six years. Don’t know too many sports that could claim that.”

    Q-School officially overhauled . . .

    Whan said the LPGA Qualifying Tournament will still be played in three stages next year, but the final stage will get a makeover as the Q-School Series.

    The LPGA will continue to host first and second stages, but instead of a five-round final stage, there will be an eight-round finals series, with two four-round tournaments scheduled in back-to-back weeks in the same city, with cumulative scores used over eight rounds. The new Q-Series site will be announced early next year.

    A field of 108 will make the Q-Series finals, with 40 to 50 LPGA tour cards up for grabs.

    The Q-Series field will be filled by players finishing 101st to 150th on the LPGA money list, players finishing 31st to 50th on the Symetra Tour money list, with up to 10 players from among the top 75 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings who don’t have LPGA membership. Also, the field will include the top five in the Golfweek Sagarin College Rankings. The rest of the field will be filled by players advancing through Q-School’s second stage, which could be anywhere from 23 to 33 players, depending how many from the world rankings and college rankings choose to go to the Q-Series.

    Ryu, S.H. Park among winners at Rolex awards

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 5:51 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy winners won’t be determined until Sunday’s finish of the CME Group Tour Championship, but seven other awards were presented Thursday during the LPGA’s Rolex Awards dinner at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort.

    The awards and winners:

    William and Mousie Powell Award – Katherine Kirk won an award given to the player “whose behavior and deeds best exemplify the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA.” Kirk won the Thornberry Classic this year, her third LPGA title. “Some people ask me if I feel obligated to give back to the game,” Kirk said. “I think it’s a privilege.”

    Heather Farr Perseverance Award – Tiffany Joh, who had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma earlier this year, thanked the Farr family and all those who supported Joh through her diagnosis and recovery.

    “I found a great quote from Ram Dass, `We are all just walking each other home,’” Joh said. “I’ve really come to understand the value of all my relationships, no matter how fleeting or profound they seem.”

    The Commissioner’s Award – Roberta Bowman, outgoing chair of the LPGA Board of Directors, was honored for her service the last six years. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan called her “my friend, my boss and my hero.” Bowman deflected the praise for her back on to the tour, thanking Whan, LPGA staff, players, sponsors, fans and the media.

    “The world needs more role models for little girls,” Bowman said. “And they don’t need to look much farther than the LPGA.”

    Ellen Griffin Rolex Award and Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award – Sandy LaBauve, who founded the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf program, was honored as the first person to win both these awards.

    The Griffin Award honors golf teachers and the Lopez Award honors an LPGA professional who emulates the values Lopez demonstrated. LaBauve is the daughter of Jack and Sherry Lumpkin, both teachers of the game.

    “This program doesn’t belong to me,” LaBauve said of LPGA-Girls’ Golf. “I merely planted the seed. The fruit belongs to all of us.”

    Rolex Annika Major Award – So Yeon Ryu won the award, named for Annika Sorenstam, for the best overall performance in women’s major championships this year. She won the ANA Inspiration and tied for third at the U.S. Women’s Open.

    “It’s such an honor to win an award named after Annika Sorenstam,” Ryu told Sorenstam during the presentation. “It’s a special award for me.”

    Rolex Rookie of the Year Award – Sung Hyun Park won the honor, telling the audience in a message translated from Korean that she was disappointed failing to win the KLPGA’s Rookie of the Year Award and was grateful for a dream come true getting the chance to win it on the LPGA.

    Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.