Phil Mickelson leads by two at WGC-CA Championship

By Associated PressMarch 13, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. ' The WGC-CA Championship looks like any other big golf tournament held over the last nine months.
 
Phil Mickelson brings some star power. He built a two-shot lead Friday by chipping in for birdie for the third time and smoking a 3-wood from 245 yards around the palm trees and over the water, setting up another birdie.
 
The group chasing him includes two guys who already have won this year ' Nick Watney (Buick Invitational), who shot 67 and was two shots behind; and Kenny Perry (FBR Open), who had a 64 and was another shot back.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is in the driver's seat with 36 holes to play. (Getty Images)
And Tiger Woods was nowhere to be found.
 
Only this time, hes actually playing in the tournament.
 
Mickelson finished strong for the second straight day and put himself in the last group at Doral for the first time in three years. His foil on the Blue Monster typically is Woods, but Lefty will be keeping different company this time.
 
Woods was 10 shots behind.
 
It kind of (stinks), Mickelson said. I hope he comes out tomorrow and plays a great round and makes a move. I would love to get him back from 05. I came close in 05 and got beat, and I would love the opportunity to play head-to-head.
 
Mickelson was at 13-under 131 and will have to settle for Watney, the only player at Doral who has yet to make a bogey.
 
Rory McIlroy, the 19-year-old from Northern Ireland who is trying to become the youngest PGA Tour winner in history, finished with an eagle and a birdie on two dangerous holes for a 66 and was two shots behind. He was tied with Perry, 48, who has three children older than McIlroy.
 
Woods beat Mickelson in an electric final round four years ago at Doral that came down to the last shot. They were paired again in the last group in the third round in 2006, and Woods got the best of him again.
 
This time, however, Woods looks like just another player in the field.
 
He again struggled with his distance control, the frustration growing with every shot too long or too short, leaving him few birdie chances. He made some progress, though ' a 70, one shot better than the day before.
 
But he was at 3-under 141 and in a tie for 35th in the 80-man field at this World Golf Championship. Told that Mickelson was disappointed he could not face Woods, the worlds No. 1 player smiled.
 
Me, too, he said. What am I? Ten back? Thats not a very good spot to be in. Hopefully, tomorrow I can shoot a good round and at least give myself somewhat of a chance going into Sunday.
 
Woods returned from knee surgery two weeks ago in match play, but this is first stroke-play event since he won the U.S. Open last June, and it showed. It was the first time in his 19 starts at a WGC event that he has failed to break 70 the first two rounds.
 
And he has never been this low on the leaderboard at any time, let alone the weekend.
 
I need to play well and I need to have help, and thats the problem when youre so far back, Woods said. Youre not really in control of your destiny being that far back.
 
He didnt have much control of his shots, either.
 
The worst of it came on the par-5 10th, when he was in the middle of the fairway with a 3-iron in his hand. Feeling it should have been a 4-iron, Woods blocked it into the bunker. He blasted out long and onto the fringe, caught the lip with his birdie putt, then missed his 3-foot putt for par. It was his first bogey on a par 5 at Doral since the 12th hole in the second round in 2005.
 
Mickelson also made bogey on a par 5 at No. 12 when he hooked his first tee shot out of play. But he escaped with a bogey, and that was the only big blunder of the round. He ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch starting on the 14th hole ' the exception was a 4-foot birdie he missed at No. 16 ' and seized control at the end of his round.
 
First, he chipped in for birdie from about 20 feet short of the seventh green. Then came his best swing of the day, carving a 3-wood around the palms, over the water and into a slight breeze from 245 yards into 15 feet on the par-5 eighth. He two-putted for birdie.
 
That gave him a cushion going into the weekend, but Mickelson has been around long enough to not let that excite him.
 
Theres going to be low scores out there, and Im going to have to keep pace, he said. But fortunately, Im playing well enough, and believe I can do it.
 
Watney last month won at Torrey Pines with two birdies on the final three holes, his second career victory. About the only thing he has in common with Mickelson is a swing coach ' Butch Harmon ' but he has played a half-dozen times with Mickelson.
 
I definitely like the pairing, Watney said. Hes one of the best players of our generation, and Im looking forward to what I can learn and see if I can hang with him for a couple of days.
 
A dozen more players were within five shots of the lead, coming from all over the world.
 
Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, who first struck a golf ball with a club he fashioned from a bamboo stick and bicycle tires, was atop the leaderboard until a triple bogey on the 18th hole. He shot 70 and was at 9-under 135 with Camilo Villegas and Rod Pampling.
 
I think we all as players cannot wait for Tiger to get back on top of his game and hopefully be able to keep pace with him, Mickelson said. Not that weve been able to do it in the past, but we are hoping to have those opportunities to go head-to-head.
 
For now, Mickelson will have to carry on without him.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - WGC-CA Championship
  • Full Coverage - WGC-CA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

    Getty Images

    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

    Getty Images

    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

    Getty Images

    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.