Phil Mickelson Nick Watney tied at WGC-CA

By Associated PressMarch 14, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. ' Phil Mickelson learned a little about Nick Watney during his trips to Las Vegas in the offseason while working with Butch Harmon, the swing coach for both of them.
 
He got to know Watney a lot better Saturday in the WGC-CA Championship and was even more impressed.
 
Watney overcame a two-shot deficit with three straight birdies early in the third round and had three strong par saves on the back nine for a 5-under 67. Mickelson answered with three straight birdies late in the afternoon during a splendid display of driving and irons and shot 69. They wound up tied for the lead at Doral.
 
Nick Watney
Like Mickelson, Watney is seeking his second win of the season. (Getty Images)
Even though Mickelson longed for another duel with Tiger Woods, he realizes he still has his hands full with Watney.
 
Theres really not any weaknesses in his game, Mickelson said. Hes already won this year and played tough down the stretch in that win, and hes a tough competitor.
 
They were at 16-under 200, four shots clear of anyone else.
 
Watney, who birdied two his last three holes to win at Torrey Pines last month, ended his streak of bogey-free golf on the Blue Monster after 46 holes and still has made only one in the tournament.
 
I just wanted to go out there today and really get into my round and not worry too much about the scoreboard or playing against Phil directly, Watney said. So Im pleased with the way I handled it.
 
Watney has not played in a final group before so many fans, but he has seen what it is like. He was a rookie in 2005 when Doral resembled a rock concert with Woods and Mickelson in the last group, and Woods rallying to win.
 
I would love to have that opportunity, Watney said. Maybe Ill get that shot tomorrow.
 
Woods wont be part of the equation.
 
In his first stroke-play event since winning the U.S. Open in June a week before knee surgery, Woods was thrilled with how he hit the ball, disgusted with how he putted. He managed only a 68 and was nine shots behind.
 
The best Ive hit it in a long time, Woods said. Granted, I havent played in a long time, but still.
 
Mickelson, the best player to have never won a World Golf Championship, is not ready to consider Sunday another duel at Doral. Jeev Milkha Singh (68) and Camilo Villegas (69) were at 12-under 204, while the group another shot behind included former Doral winner Jim Furyk (69), Kenny Perry (71) and Alvaro Quiros (69), a big hitter from Spain.
 
Nick and I need to play well to separate ourselves from the rest of the field, Mickelson said.
 
Lefty worried he might fall behind when he made the turn in only 35 on another good day for scoring. But he hit his stride, going eight consecutive holes with birdie putts inside 12 feet. He converted only three of them.
 
The easiest came at the par-3 13th, when Mickelson hit 5-iron to the green and watched it roll toward the cup. The glare kept him from seeing the ball bounce lightly off the middle of the pin and stop a foot away, but the wild cheer filled him in.
 
I thought after the first bounce it was going to be pretty good, he said.
 
Watney made a terrific par save from an awkward stance in the bunker on the the 13th, and he made another solid bunker save on the par-3 15th when Mickelson hit his tee shot to 6 feet. It looked as though Lefty would go three shots ahead until he missed the putt, and Watney caught him two holes later ' his birdie on the 16th, Mickelsons one wild drive on the 17th leading to bogey.
 
Watney finished with another solid par save after an approach flirted with the water on the 18th. From deep rough, he popped it out to 3 feet and stayed tied for the lead when Mickelson missed a 15-foot birdie.
 
Rory McIlroy, the 19-year-old from Northern Ireland who is down to his last week with a chance at becoming the youngest winner in PGA Tour history, was in the mix until struggling from the rough and making three bogeys over his last five holes.
 
He was at 10-under 206, six shots behind.
 
It looks like its going to be a bit of a two-horse race, McIlroy said. But if I can go out and shoot in the mid-60s and get myself as high up the leaderboard as possible, then it will have been another good week.
 
Woods feels hes making progress, too.
 
It was his best round since his return to competition, at least until he got on the green. He missed three putts inside 10 feet, and his final birdie came on the 16th when he holed out from a back bunker.
 
But it was the finish that lifted his mood.
 
From the edge of the water, with the ball above his feet and the wind in his face, Woods hit a sweeping draw with a 3-iron from 207 yards away that caught the ridge and rolled just past the cup, settling 12 feet away.
 
He missed the birdie putt.
 
I have not controlled the golf ball that well in a very long time, Woods said. And that was fun. I was hitting shots that I had not been able to hit before, which was such a great feeling. Unfortunately, Im just not making any putts.
 
Mickelson, who won two weeks ago at Riviera, can close in on No. 1 in the world ranking by capturing his first World Golf Championship title. It will be his first time in the final group at Doral since 2005, when Woods overcame a two-shot deficit to beat him.
 
Woods, in a tie for 19th, is out of the picture.
 
But the way Saturday went along the back nine, Mickelson still doesnt expect anything to come easily.
 
Related Links:
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    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?''

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    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.

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    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. 

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    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.