Notes Mickelson Gaining Momentum

By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayCARLSBAD, Calif. -- Phil Mickelson is among those players sorry to see the Match Play Championship leave La Costa Resort after this year, and for good reason.
Mickelson was 23 when he won the winners-only Mercedes Championships in 1994, beating Fred Couples in a playoff. He won again in 1998, the final year the Mercedes was held at La Costa, by holding off Tiger Woods and Mark O'Meara.
But the Accenture Match Play Championship has not been as kind, part of that due to the fact anything can happen over 18 holes of match play.
He twice was eliminated in the first round, lost in the third round three other times and saw his best chance frittered away in 2004 when he made bogey on the par-5 18th hole to lose to Davis Love III in the quarterfinals.
Is it frustrating?
'I would say so, yeah,' he said. 'I love the golf course. I love coming out here, because it brings back so many great memories.'
Some of them are from his victories, but Lefty also saw La Costa from behind the ropes as a teenager, watching with his father as players like Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Lanny Wadkins competed in the Mercedes.
But he is good enough that a few victories might take him a long way.
'I had a very good chance when I lost to Davis,' he said. 'I was playing well in 2004. I had a couple of wins, and I ended up losing on the last hole. That was the year I could have gone quite far.'
He made it to the third round with relative ease Thursday. Mickelson built a 2-up lead on John Daly after six holes and had control until hitting his approach into the water on the par-5 eighth, and Daly squared the match with a birdie on the ninth. Mickelson made eagle on the 11th to regain the lead, and pulled away.
Next up is David Howell of England, who has never played against Lefty.
'He's a great player, isn't he?' Howell said. 'I'm just going to have to shoot a good score.'
Friday could be a rubber match of sorts between Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh.
Harrington can't recall facing the big Fijian in match play, but he does remember two playoffs against him. Singh won the Malaysian Open five years ago, beating the Irishman in a playoff. Last year, Singh missed a 30-inch putt in a playoff at the Honda Classic to lose to Harrington.
'Hopefully, I want to play a little better than I did today,' Harrington said.
He was 3 over for his round and two holes down to Angel Cabrera when Harrington birdied the 16th and 17th to square the match, then halved the 18th hole with birdies.
He won on the first extra hole when Cabrera caught a tough lie in the bunker.
'I haven't got a consistent swing,' Harrington said. 'I haven't got a consistent anything.'
Tiger Woods will play the third round against Chad Campbell, whose career took a turn for the better thanks to the No. 1 player.
Campbell grew up in west Texas and played at Midland College for two years, doing well enough to attract attention from NCAA Division I programs. Among the schools interested was Nevada-Las Vegas, but it only had one scholarship left and was recruiting a top junior from California -- Woods.
Woods had narrowed his choice to Stanford and UNLV before opting for the Cardinal. With a scholarship available, Campbell headed for Las Vegas.
Asked if Campbell ever thanked him for going to Stanford, Woods laughed and said, 'No.'
But he knows Campbell well.
'He drives it great, hits his irons really well,' Woods said. 'When he gets that putter rolling, he can really put up some good numbers.'
There was an ominous sign Thursday, when Campbell played in the match behind Woods and won the 18th hole for a 1-up victory over Henrik Stenson.
'The times I saw him back there,' Woods said, 'he was in the fairway.'
Geoff Ogilvy is carrying a couple of banners at La Costa. He is the only player making his debut at the Match Play Championship who is still playing, and the only Australian out of the 10 who started in the 64-man field. ... With Rory Sabbatini having been eliminated in the first round, Chad Campbell is the only player who can win a $500,000 bonus for capturing the West Coast Swing. His only hope is to win the tournament. ... Eight of the 16 players remaining are from the United States, which started with a career-low 25 players in the field. Europe, which started with 17 players, is down to Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and David Howell.
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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, 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.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry