Notes PLAYERS Playoff Dilemma Ryder Fever

By Associated PressMay 13, 2008, 4:00 pm
Starting a sudden-death playoff on a par 3 is rare, but not unprecedented. It last happened on the PGA TOUR eight years ago at the BellSouth Classic, when the playoff between Phil Mickelson and Gary Nicklaus began on the 16th hole because the rest of the course was covered with water.
This time, TOUR officials purposely sought out a hole surrounded by water.
Golf purists might complain that THE PLAYERS Championship took on a carnival appearance Sunday when they changed the sequence of traditional playoff holes so that it would start on the island-green 17th.
Sudden-death playoffs typically begin on the 18th hole because the fans already are in place. Thats where it started the last time THE PLAYERS went overtime, although that was 21 years ago.
Henry Hughes, the TOURs chief of operations and soon-to-be CEO of THE PLAYERS, said officials decided about five years ago to start the playoff at No. 17, and there were no regrets Sunday.
We discussed what would be the most exciting, most compelling, most attractive way to end the tournament should it end in a tie, Hughes said. The entire team concluded that arguably the most exciting hole in golf would be the place to contest a playoff. We think it was exciting. We think the decision was right.
The question is how much the playoff was decided by skill and how much was decided by luck.
Playing the 472-yard 18th would have tested driving ability, iron play, scrambling and the nerves of standing over a putt for the win. Starting on an island green that played 128 yards required a wedge and hope that a gust didnt blow at the wrong time.
Paul Goydos caught a gust of wind. Sergio Garcia did not.
The hole was designed to do exactly what it did, Goydos said. Just got me instead of somebody else.
Goydos had no complaints, however, and he conceded that he hit the ball a smidgen higher than the more penetrating shot he struck in regulation. Garcia hit a sand wedge that was close to perfection.
Goydos was right in one other aspect'the hole did what it was designed to in a playoff. It added drama, and that didnt stop after Goydos hit into the water.
On any other hole, all Garcia had to do was play it safe. But how you do you play that shot conservatively?
I could do exactly the same thing, Garcia said. I was just praying that I didnt get any weird gusts or wind or anything that.
As for the fans? It was impossible for so many of them to get to the 17th green in time for the playoff. However, the large video board behind the 18th green carried the action live.
Ideally, the TOUR should consider what the Masters wont'a three-hole aggregate playoff starting at No. 16 to test a player on a par 5, a par 3 and a par 4, allowing room for a mistake. Who wouldnt love to see a playoff at Augusta National around Amen Corner?
It wasnt all bad. The 17th, after all, is the signature hole at Sawgrass. But maybe its a sign of THE PLAYERS Championship status that it still needs to find a way for its tournament to be a little more than it already is.
Tom Lehman was 37 when he captured his first major in the 1996 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, and thats when he first met and took a liking to a 16-year-old from Spain.
Sergio Garcia played in his first British Open that year. Lehman handed him the claret jug and said to Garcia, Someday, youll win this.
It hasnt happened'yet'although a major is just a matter of time.
In the meantime, news from the PGA TOUR on Tuesday showed how far Garcia has come since then.
Lehman tied for sixth at THE PLAYERS Championship and earned $307,563. Garcia won in a playoff and took home $1.71 million. The significance? Both crossed the $20 million mark in career earnings.
A half-dozen players from the top 50 in the world ranking did not compete in THE PLAYERS Championship, mainly because of injury (Tiger Woods), fatigue (Martin Kaymer) or illness (Trevor Immelman).
For Robert Karlsson, it was all about the Ryder Cup.
The Swede was the only player in the top 50 competing last week somewhere other than Sawgrass. Karlsson was at the Italian Open, where he contended on the weekend and eventually finished third behind Hennie Otto and Oliver Wilson.
But he picked up 9.6 world ranking points, the equivalent of finishing 12th at THE PLAYERS.
Darren Clarke also has the Ryder Cup on his mind, enough to skip U.S. Open qualifying in Europe.
Clarke, whose victory in the BMW Asian Open two weeks ago was his first since his wife died of breast cancer, withdrew Tuesday from U.S. Open qualifying to boost his chances of making the Ryder Cup team for the sixth straight time.
He instead will play the Wales Open at Celtic Manor, which coincidentally hosts the 2010 Ryder Cup.
My win in China really put my career back on track and I want to do everything I possibly can to be part of Nick Faldos side for Valhalla next September, Clarke said.
Clarke said he would have played the U.S. Open had he been exempt from qualifying. He still hopes to play his way into the British Open and PGA Championship, which offer high ranking points and count as official money on the European Tour.
He is playing the Irish Open this week.
World ranking points are awarded to the Nationwide Tour in an effort to boost its credibility. U.S. Amateur champion Colt Knost won last week and received 14 points.
Thats more than Brett Quigley, Tom Lehman, Ben Crane and Ernie Els received after they tied for sixth at The Players Championship.
In its weekly newsletter, the PGA TOUR noted that Ben Curtis had gone 345 consecutive holes without a three-putt, dating to the Honda Classic. He promptly three-putted his 12th hole in the second round of THE PLAYERS Championship, ending the streak at 374 Sergio Garcia is the first player to go from runner-up to winner in consecutive years at THE PLAYERS Championship since Tiger Woods in 2000 and 2001. Alexis Thompson, the 12-year-old who qualified for the U.S. Womens Open last year, was at THE PLAYERS Championship watching older brother Nicholas. She didnt look like the same girl at Pine Needles, though, because she has grown 5 inches.
Hal Sutton in 1983 is the only player to win THE PLAYERS Championship and his first major in the same season.
This is how I make decisions in my life, just like on the golf course. If I decide to hit a 7-iron, then its a 7-iron. Im cool with my decision. I trust my instincts.'Annika Sorenstam, who announced she is retiring after this year.

Related Links:
  • Annika Through the Years
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Classic
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

    Getty Images

    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

    Getty Images

    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

    Getty Images

    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.