Notes Phil the Thrill at it again Cink stays afloat

By Associated PressFebruary 26, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. ' Phil the Thrill was at it again.
Phil Mickelson survived another scare at the Accenture Match Play Championship on Thursday, beating Zach Johnson 1-up in a second-round matchup of Masters winners.
The fifth-seeded Mickelson is the highest remaining seed after Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh have gone home.
For the second day in a row, Mickelson staggered to victory.
Mickelson was 4-up with five holes to play, but his lead quickly shrunk to 1-up after Mickelson bogeyed the 14th hole, then watched Johnson birdie the 15th and 17th.
Mickelson finally closed out the match with a par 4 on 18.
I had a couple chances with a couple of short putts on 14 and 15 that could have ended the match earlier, but he fought hard to extend the match, said Mickelson, who has reached the third round for the first time since 2006, when he lost to David Howell.
The match played out much the same as Mickelsons 19-hole victory over Angel Cabrera in the opening round. Mickelson was 4-up with five to play against Cabrera, who squared the match on the 17th hole.
Mickelson said he has been working on his swing with coach Butch Harmon this week. Mickelson will face Stewart Cink on Friday.
Cink said hes looking forward to the match.
He has the ability to play really bad for a little while and then just play as well as anybody in the world, Cink said. So who knows whats going to happen. I just hope I have a decent game of my own tomorrow.

RORY ROLLS: Down two holes through 12, Rory McIlroy finished with a kick, birdieing four of the last six holes to beat Hunter Mahan 1-up.
I saved my best for last, McIlroy said. I dug deep and played my best golf when I needed to, which is very satisfying.
The 19-year-old from Northern Ireland had said it would be a dream to meet Tiger Woods in the third round, but that wont happen. Instead, McIlroy will face Tim Clark, who eliminated Woods on Thursday.
Its probably a good thing, McIlroy said. Ill be the first to say if I stood on the first tee with Tiger, I would be intimidated because he has been a hero of mine for the past I dont know how many years.
It would have been great to play him, but maybe another time, McIlroy said.

LONG AND SHORT OF IT: Stewart Cink needed 23 holes to beat Lee Westwood.
Camilo Villegas has played a total of 26 holes in the first two rounds.
In the longest match of the tourney, Cink was 1-up with two holes to play. But Westwood birdied the 17th, and the players swapped shots until Westwood bogeyed the 23rd hole.
Cink has played 42 holes this week. He needed 19 to eliminate Richard Sterne in the first round.
Im tired, but when youre that close in your matches, 1-up and 1-down, you never were more than one hole separated, today or yesterday, the adrenalines always right there, Cink said. So you dont really feel tired until after you get back to the hotel, maybe relax a little bit.
While Cink sweated out his victory on a sundrenched afternoon, Villegas had time take a dip in the pool.
One day after closing out Rod Pampling in 12 holes, Villegas beat Miguel Angel Jimenez in 14 holes (5 and 4).
Villegas has led for 24 of 26 holes so far. Hell try to keep rolling against Geoff Ogilvy on Friday.
Asked if he would see the par-3, 247-yard 16th this week, Villegas replied, Let me tell you something: I just try to focus on each shot and hopefully we can keep winning.

THEYRE BACK: On a day defending champ Tiger Woods was eliminated, only three players reached the third round for the second straight year 'Stewart Cink, Paul Casey and Justin Leonard.
Last year, Cink beat Leonard 4 and 2 in the semifinals before losing the championship match to Woods.
Cink is the only player who has made the third round three years in a row.

ALL-ENGLAND CLUB: Seven Englishmen entered the tournament. Five have reached the third round 'Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Ross Fisher, Oliver Wilson and Ian Poulter.
Another Englishman, Lee Westwood, lost to Stewart Cink in 23 holes.
Obviously, its great for European golf, and its great for English golf, said Fisher, who routed American Pat Perez 6 and 5 on Thursday. Weve got some really good youngsters coming through, as well, that arent here this week. Theyre playing on the European tour. I think the future is very bright, not only for European golf but for English and British golf.
Wilsons 2-and-1 victory over American Anthony Kim may have seemed like an upset. But it didnt come as a surprise to Wilson, who teamed with Henrik Stenson to beat Kim and Phil Mickelson in the Ryder Cup.
(Kim is) a great player, and obviously the Ryder Cup, I think, maybe helped me a little bit, knowing that I already beat him before, said Wilson, who will face Leonard on Friday.
Wilson lost the first hole but fired eight birdies the rest of the way to send Kim packing.
Donald was 2-down with two holes to go but rallied to defeat Vijay Singh in 19 holes, reaching sudden death after Singh bogeyed the 18th.
Donald also needed 19 holes to beat Ben Curtis in the opening round.
My wife keeps telling me, Cant you just win on the 12th or 13th one of these days, to make it easier on her heart, Donald said. I was just pleased to take it into extra holes after being two down with two to play, but feel I just snatched this one out of nowhere.

Related Links:
  • Match Play Scoring
  • Full Coverage ' Tiger's Return
  • Match Play Bracket
  • Full Coverage ' WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

    By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

    Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

    ''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

    Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

    ''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

    Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

    ''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

    ''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour.

    ''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

    He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

    ''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

    Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

    ''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''

    Park's stumble creates wide-open finale

    By Randall MellNovember 18, 2017, 11:46 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park didn’t turn the CME Group Tour Championship into a runaway Saturday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    She left with bloody fingernails after a brutal day failing to hold on to her spot atop the leaderboard.

    OK, they weren’t really bloody, but even the unflappable Park wasn’t immune to mounting pressure, with the Rolex world No. 1 ranking, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the money-winning title among the prizes she knew were within reach when she teed it up.

    “It’s honestly some of the worst pressure,” Stacy Lewis said of CME week. “It’s so much pressure.  It’s just really hard to free yourself up and play golf.”

    Lewis isn’t in the mix for all those prizes this year, but the two-time Rolex Player of the Year and two-time Vare Trophy winner knows what the full weight of this week’s possibilities bring.

    “It’s almost nice to come here without all that pressure, but you want to be in that situation,” Lewis said. “It’s just really tough.”

    Park is no longer in charge at Tiburon.

    This championship is wide, wide open with a four-way tie for first place and 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Park is one shot back after stumbling to a 3-over-par 75.

    Count Michelle Wie among the four tied for the lead after charging with a 66.

    Former world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn (67), Suzann Pettersen (69) and Kim Kaufman (64) are also atop the leaderboard.

    Kaufman was the story of the day, getting herself in contention with a sizzling round just two weeks after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.

    Park is in a seven-way tie for fifth place just one shot back.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    Lexi Thompson (69) is in that mix a shot back, as is Lewis (67), who is seeking to add a second title this year to her emotional win for Houston hurricane relief.

    For Wie, winning the tournament will be reward enough, given how her strong rebound this year seemed derailed in September by an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie fought her way back from two of the most disappointing years of her career, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” Wie said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun. That’s when I play my best.”

    All the subplots make Sunday so much more complicated for Park and Thompson, who are best positioned for a giant haul of hardware.

    They have the most to gain in the final round.

    Park has already clinched the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, but she can add the Rolex Player of the Year title, joining Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win both those awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978.

    A fifth place finish or better could give Park the Player of the Year Award outright, depending what others do.

    “There are a lot of top players right now at the top of the leaderboard,” Park said. “Keeping my focus will be key.”

    Thompson can still take home the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy and the CME Globe jackpot. She needs to win the tournament Sunday to win Player of the Year.

    Like Park, Thompson is trying not to think about it all of that.

    “I treat every tournament the same,” Thompson said. “I go into it wanting to win. I’m not really thinking about anything else.”

    The Vare Trophy for low scoring average is Thompson’s to lose.

    Park has to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson on Sunday to have a shot at the trophy, and they are tied at 9-under overall.

    The money-winning title is Park’s to lose. So Yeon Ryu has to win the tournament Sunday to have a chance to wrestle the title from Park, but Ryu has to pass 31 players to do so.

    The CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot remains more up for grabs, with Thompson and Park best positioned to win it, though Jutanugarn is poised to pounce if both stumble. A lot is still possible in the race for the jackpot.

    The pressure will be turned way up on the first tee Sunday.

    “There is always that little bit of adrenaline,” Thompson said. “You just have to tame it and control it.”

    Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:45 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.

    On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.

    “Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.

    “My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”

    Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.

    New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention

    By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2017, 10:43 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.

    In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.

    Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.

    “It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.

    His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.

    “I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”