Villegas edges Garcia at East Lake

By Associated PressSeptember 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 LogoATLANTA ' Too far behind to do anything about the FedEx Cup, Camilo Villegas put together a stirring rally Sunday that was good enough to win the Tour Championship in a playoff over Sergio Garcia for his second consecutive victory.
 
Villegas overcame a five-shot deficit by making six birdies over his last 11 holes for a 4-under 66, then beat Garcia with a par on the 233-yard 18th hole used in the playoff.
 
The 26-year-old Colombian, who had gone 85 starts on the PGA Tour without winning, picked up his second in a row with a finish that brought the gallery to life on a sunny afternoon at East Lake.
 
Camilo Villegas and Vijay SinghHe birdied the 17th hole from 12 feet to catch Garcia, then twice hit beautiful lag putts from outside 45 feet, once in regulation to finish at 7-under 273, then in the playoff to cap off his season in style.
 
Villegas, who will move to No. 6 in the world rankings, earned $1.26 million for winning the Tour Championship.
 
I cannot emphasize how hard Ive worked, Villegas said.
 
Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson each shot 69, and each had a chance to join the playoff. Kim, playing in the second-to-last group with Villegas, missed from 30 feet. Mickelsons 20-foot birdie putt stayed above the hole.
 
Garcia missed a 20-foot birdie putt to win, then never gave himself much of a chance on the 18th hole in the playoff. He came out of the shot, and it wound up in deep rough some 30 yards short and right of the flag. His chip stayed in the collar of the green, and a chip to extend the playoff was well short.
 
It was the third consecutive time Garcia has blown a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour over the last three years, including a six-shot advantage at the Wachovia Championship in 2005 and a three-shot lead in the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie.
 
I doubted myself too much early on, and it cost me, he said.
 
The consolation prize might be the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average. Garcia came into the Tour Championship trailing Mickelson by one-hundredth of a point, and wound up at 69.40. Mickelson finished at 69.42.
 
Tiger Woods, who had season-ending knee surgery after winning the U.S. Open, did not play the required 60 rounds to be eligible for the award, which will not be official until the Tours Fall Series ends the first week of November.
 
Fun way to finish the year, have it come down to the last shot, Mickelson said.
 
What was supposed to be the highlight of the Tour Championship ' the FedEx Cup ' turned into an afterthought. Vijay Singh effectively wrapped up the $10 million prize two weeks ago in St. Louis, so all he had to do was finish 72 holes at East Lake and sign for the correct score to win the FedEx Cup.
 
I made one birdie and one bogey. It was easy not to make a mistake, he said.
 
Singh closed with a 70 and tied for 22nd in the 30-man field, but none of that mattered. He won the first two playoff events to take the drama out of the FedEx Cup for the second consecutive year.
 
Villegas missed the cut at The Barclays in the first round of the playoffs, which ultimately cost him. He wound up 551 points behind in the FedEx Cup, but that was only bookkeeping.
 
While the FedEx Cup suffered another dull finish, the Tour Championship was anything but that. Over the back nine, it turned out to be one of the best regular PGA Tour events of the year.
 
Mickelson, Garcia, Kim and Villegas ' four of the hottest commodities on a tour without Woods ' had at least a share of the lead along the back nine at East Lake. They were in the final two groups. At least one player made birdie or bogey on every hole except the 18th, which yielded only one birdie in the final round.
 
Villegas might have been the one player no one expected to be there.
 
He started the final round five shots out of the lead, and despite a pair of birdies, gave it all back and more with a tee shot into the water on the par-3 sixth, and a bogey on the next hole. But the Colombian showed his flair, storming right back into contention with three straight birdies as the leaders faltered.
 
Garcia, also a playoff loser to Singh in The Barclays, failed to birdie the par-5 ninth from a greenside bunker, and didnt make his first birdie until the 12th hole. Mickelson was reminded how much his putter has held him back, missing several chances inside 12 feet.
 
Kim was the most steady of the bunch, but after taking the outright lead with a 20-foot birdie on the 11th hole, the 23-year-old did not make another birdie the rest of the round.
 
Kim was the only player who failed to birdie the uphill, par-5 15th, as the others shared the lead at 7 under. Mickelson and Villegas both dropped shots on the 16th by missing the green and hitting chips outside 10 feet, but Villegas redeemed himself.
 
From the first cut of rough on the right side of the 17th fairway, he made an aggressive swing, knelt and clasped his hands as if praying while watching his ball head left of the flag. It caught enough of the green to settle 12 feet away, and he made it for birdie.
 
Garcia went from a three-shot lead to a two-shot deficit until an 18-foot birdie on the 12th got him back in the game. He was solid the rest of the way until the playoff.
 
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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.