Notes Leftys Wild Idea Tigers Dog Taz

By Associated PressApril 4, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Masters is bringing out the metal in just about everyone.
 
For Phil Mickelson, that means two drivers.

With an eye on Augusta National, Mickelson put two drivers in his bag during the BellSouth Classic. It worked so well, he said he would try it at the Masters.
 
'It's a big promo Callaway and I are doing now -- the only thing better than one FT-3 is two FT-3s,' Mickelson said with a laugh.
 
But it's not quite the same club.
 
One driver is an inch longer, and allows him to hit a power draw that moves from left to right. At the BellSouth Classic, he flew the green on the 13th hole, a short par, which he had never been able to do. The other driver allows him to hit a controlled fade, the shot Mickelson relied heavily on when he won the Masters two years ago.
 
'There are a number of holes where you can move the ball left-to-right and have it be very effective,' Mickelson said. 'I can hit a little controlled cut on the holes where distance isn't as big of a factor. And I can use the draw driver and get a little extra pop on some holes. It's nice having that little extra punch.'
 
Mickelson began experimenting with a longer club during the West Coast Swing, but he could only hit the draw. He tinkered with the internal weighting of the club, and found a unique solution.
 
'I used the internal weighting to take the left side out of play so it draws, and I use the other driver to take the right side out of play,' Mickelson said. 'So now I just play with half the trouble.'
 
With a 14-club limit, that means he'll have to take another club out of the bag.
 
Mickelson says the sand wedge is out of the rotation -- he still has a lob wedge, gap wedge and pitching wedge. With the extra driver, he said he would take out the 3-iron or 4-iron, or perhaps the 7-iron or 8-iron, depending on the conditions.
 
Tiger Woods was asked if he ever carried two drivers.
 
'Well, one driver in two pieces, but that's about it,' he said.
 
Ernie Els, meanwhile, is using a 5-wood for the 240-yard fourth hole. Els usually carries a 2-iron, and he was asked the last time he used a 5-wood in competition.
 
'I think I was in junior golf,' Els said.
 
He has been working on a 5-wood from Titleist for the last week, realizing the extra height will come in handy.
 
'Ever since I played here three or four weeks ago, I could see a 5-wood
 
A DOG'S DAY
Tiger Woods' father is battling cancer. He is the defending champion. The course has been changed again, with six holes playing longer. And the first question presented to Woods at his press conference was?
 
Why did his wife buy him a border collie for Christmas?
 
Woods named the dog Taz, short for Tasmania, and he brought it with him to The Players Championship.
 
'As everyone knows, I'm a pretty active guy,' Woods said. 'Taking my little buddy out there on runs is awfully fun. Unfortunately, his pace is a little bit faster than mine, so I've had to learn how to pick it up. He just loves to run all day. Sometimes it can be a bit annoying. But most of the time, it's pretty cool.'
 
ON THE MEND
Chris DiMarco skipped The Players Championship because of a rib injury suffered while skiing, but says he is about 90 percent healthy and expects no problems this week.
 
DiMarco had his sunglasses and cell phone in a back pack, making his last run, when a couple of skiers emerged out of the trees and were headed in his direction. He tried to avoid them, rolled on his back, and one of the items in his pack gouged into his side.
 
He missed the cut last week in Atlanta, attributing that more to rust.
 
'My foot started hurting because I was not putting much pressure on that side of my body,' he said. 'I feel like I'm 90 percent, 95 percent, and hopefully by Thursday, I'll be 100 percent.'
 
Any more skiing vacations in his future?
 
'Golf is my job, but I'm going to live my life,' he said. 'It was a very fluky thing. I could have walked out of my garage and tripped over my kid's baseball helmet and banged up my knee. I'm going to keep going skiing.'
 
ARNIE'S VIEW
Arnold Palmer is not wild about the changes to Augusta National, particularly the par-4 11th. What bothers him more than the additional 15 yards that puts it at 505 yards, is the 50 or so pine trees planted down the right side of the fairway.
 
And not because of the penalty, but the gallery.
 
Palmer believes the trees restrict the view of the fans who want to follow the flight of the ball to the green, which is guarded by a pond on the left. And it reminded him of one year when he won the Masters.
 
'I drove it to the left-center of the fairway, and I had to go to the bathroom,' he said. 'I walked down (to the left) into the woods and took a leak. And when I came out of the woods, the gallery gave me a standing ovation. They all clapped and raised hell. 'Everything came out all right, Arnie?' They were having fun. And I was playing good.'
 
He noticed a different kind of change the next year.
 
'There was an outhouse,' Palmer said. 'Cliff Roberts built a john, which is still there.'
 
AUGUSTA NEWCOMER
The 23-year-old man was making his first trip to Augusta National, and a special badge allowed him on the course a few minutes before everyone else, giving him enough time to watch Tiger Woods without fighting the masses.
 
'This place is beautiful,' he said with wonder in his voice.
 
There are thousands like him at Augusta National, but what made this remarkable was the name on his badge.
 
Michael Watson, the son of two-time Masters champion Tom Watson.
 
'There was always a conflict,' he said when asked why he never made it to the Masters until this week. 'I've been to the British Open a lot, and a couple of U.S. Opens. I love the British Open.'
 
And he was quickly falling in love with the Masters, where his dad won in 1977 and 1981.
 
His father gave him the full treatment, inviting Michael to play a practice round with him on Sunday, the final day members could play before the tournament.
 
DIVOTS
The longest line of the week is not for the merchandise tent. The gates open at 7 a.m., but spectators are not allowed on the golf course until 8 a.m. There were some 2,000 people crammed behind a wooden barricade at 7:45 a.m., watching Tiger Woods go up the first fairway, looking at their watches. Fifteen minutes later, from a distance, they looked like ants streaming across the course, heading in Woods' direction. ... Callaway Golf is having its staff players use a special golf bag in green and white, with yellow trim.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
The 21 countries represented in the field is a record for the Masters.
 
FINAL WORD
'A lot more confident than had I missed the cut.' -- Phil Mickelson, asked how confident he was about the Masters after winning in Atlanta by 13 shots.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 70th Masters Tournament
     
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    Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

    Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

    One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

    Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.


    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


    Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

    Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

    He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

    ''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

    ''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

    ''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

    ''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

    Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

    ''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

    ''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

    Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.