Notes Monty Singh Swept Away

By Associated PressFebruary 27, 2004, 5:00 pm
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Colin Montgomerie spent so much time in the sand on No. 18 at La Costa late Feb. 27 that he might as well have been over at Moonlight Beach.

Colin MontgomerieAfter winning his second-round match 5 and 4 over Stewart Cink during Fridays marathon at the WGC/Accenture Match Play Championship, Montgomerie and Stephen Leaney of Australia were all square after 17 holes of their third-round match.
On the par-5 18th, Montgomerie hit his approach shot into a bunker on the left side of the green, drawing a few groans of Oh, Monty! from the gallery.
Getting out would be tricky because Montgomerie had little green to work with. But he never got out, his ball thudding into the turf overhang at the top of the trap and trickling back down into the sand. It was the deciding shot of a match that Leaney would win by sinking a short putt to save par while Montgomerie finished with bogey.
OK, so Monty did at least stick around San Diego longer than he had in the past. In four previous appearances at La Costa, he made it out of the first round only once, in 2000, and then lost his second-round match in 23 holes to Thomas Bjorn.
No, not really, the Scot said before heading to the airport. But never mind.
Montgomerie said he was tired from fighting the flu and diarrhea, which he said he caught during the Malaysian Open last week.
Thats never the best preparation for trying to play golf, he said. Thirty-six holes a day is no fun feeling like that. But never mind.
Montgomerie finally conceded that it wasnt a total drag, having won two matches and $115,000.
It is more so than I had this time last year which is something, he said.
Earlier in the day, Monty was brilliant in beating Cink, with seven birdies and no bogeys in 14 holes.
That is the best I have played here without a doubt, he said after that match.
Then, in perhaps a portent of things to come, he said: It is important in match play not to give holes away as I have tended to do here in the past.
But, as Monty might say, never mind.
Two rounds had to be played Friday after heavy rain postponed Thursdays play.
Lefty on the Loose
Phil Mickelson continued his career-best start to a season, guaranteeing his fifth consecutive top-10 finish by beating British Open champion Ben Curtis, 7 and 6, in the second round and Chris DiMarco, 3 and 2, in the third.
Phil MickelsonMickelson, the No. 6 seeded player, said hes driving the ball better than he ever has.
I missed three fairways today out of the 26 fairway attempts, which for me is exceptional and imperative given how thick the rough is out here, said Mickelson, who credits his better driving to a mechanical change that swing coach Rick Smith came up with.
Mickelson had one bogey in his two rounds Friday, when he three-putted the ninth in his match against DiMarco.
For the most part, because Ive kept it in play, the course seems to be so much easier. I think after 33 years Ive figured that out, he said, laughing.
Mickelson, who won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on Jan. 25, will play No. 3-seeded Davis Love III in the quarterfinals Saturday morning.
Rain, Rain Go Away...
It turned out to be a mild day of sunshine, enough good weather to squeeze in the second and third rounds at La Costa Resort.
It sure didnt start that way.
Padraig Harrington, Peter Lonard and Bob Estes were among those on the practice range at 6:15 a.m. when dark clouds moved in and players were told to leave the range -- not only because of lightning, but hail.
By the time the first matches were under way, however, skies were blue.
Vijay SinghHeading South?
Suddenly, Vijay Singh is heading in the wrong direction.
Singh had 12 consecutive top 10s with his victory earlier this month at Pebble Beach, two short of the modern-day record held by Jack Nicklaus.
But he missed the cut at the Buick Invitational, tied for 24th at the Nissan Open and his second-round loss Friday at the Match Play Championship gave him a tie for 17th.
Singh never trailed in beating Shingo Katayama. He never led against Jerry Kelly, losing 4 and 3.
I knew if I kept on getting it in the fairway and getting it on the green, I was going to put pressure on him, Kelly said. He tried to sneak it between pins and he got caught.
Friend and Enemy
Davis Love III hates losing, but its not much fun beating a friend.
He was paired against Fred Couples in the second round, and Love led the entire way in a 3-and-2 victory.
You dont want to knock your friend out, but you also dont want to get beat, Love said. Its hard to go out and be mean about it and get tough, but I enjoyed playing with him.
And they left the course as friends, as always.
Hes still coming to my house next week and going to a wedding and playing a tournament in Florida, Love said. Nothing changes.
World No. 17 Fredrik Jacobson never played the final four holes in his three matches. He won his first two matches 5 and 4 before losing by the same score to Tiger Woods in the third round. Woods has won nine consecutive matches in the Match Play Championship to push his career record to 17-3. He won here last year. The quarterfinals and semifinals are both scheduled for Saturday, and the forecast is for partly sunny and cool, with breezes in the afternoon.
Related Links:
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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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    Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

    “That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

    So was Woods.

    DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

    “His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

    Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

    “He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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    “The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

    Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

    “Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

    “Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

    Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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    With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

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    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.