Villegas Storms into Lead in Boston

By Associated PressAugust 31, 2007, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. -- They have combined for 121 victories and 19 majors. But when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh played together Friday for the first time on the PGA TOUR, the only number that mattered was on their scorecards.
 
The 'Big Three' was a combined 3-over par.
 
On a day when Camilo Villegas shot a career-low 63 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the biggest buzz outside Beantown was on the three biggest names in golf, who delivered some memorable moments they would rather forget.
 
Mickelson twice went on a search-and-rescue mission in the forest along the ninth hole, trying to find his golf ball and figure out how to hit it. He wound up with a triple bogey that spoiled an otherwise solid round of 70.
 
Woods took three shots to get out of the bunker on the 298-yard fourth hole and made double bogey. He spent the rest of the sunny afternoon on the TPC Boston trying to get back to even par, missing four birdie putts inside 10 feet and settling for a 1-over 72.
 
Singh set the tone for this mighty threesome by four-putting from 15 feet on the opening hole. He shot 74. It was the second straight week in the PGA TOUR Playoffs that Singh had a four-putt double bogey.
 
'I don't normally four-putt from that close,' he said.
 
Woods was asked how he would describe the festivities and summed it beautifully.
 
'Over.'
 
Good thing for them the tournament isn't over.
 
Woods hit his second shot into the water on the par-5 second hole, and combined with his double bogey on No. 4, was at 3 over through four holes and already 10 shots out of the lead.
 
'It's not like I haven't been in this position before,' Woods said. 'I kept saying, 'I basically have 68 holes to make it up.''
 
Villegas was three groups ahead and playing the kind of golf expected out of the glamour boys.
 
'Kept the ball in play and rolled in some beautiful putts,' Villegas said. 'I was happy with my round. It's very early in the week, and it's time to keep it going.'
 
He had a two-shot lead over former Masters champion Mike Weir and Ryan Moore, while Barclays winner Steve Stricker continued his solid play with a 67 that helped his chances of staying atop the playoff standings.
 
The Deutsche Bank is most critical for Weir, who needs to finish at least fifth to have any chance of getting to the BMW Championship next week. Otherwise, it's three weeks off before playing the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal.
 
Weir started his round by holing a bunker shot for birdie, and he finished it by hitting into the swamp short of the par-5 18th green and getting up-and-down for par and his lowest round of the year.
 
'Today was nice to get a lot out of my round,' Weir said. 'A lot of the rounds I've played this year, I look back and I think, 'I should have been three or four better.' Today, I can't look at really anything that I could have done much better.'
 
The same couldn't be said for Woods, Mickelson and Singh.
 
The only other time they played together was two years ago at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, an exhibition for the four major champions of the year (Singh got in as an alternate). This was the first time on the PGA TOUR, courtesy of a new playoff system that groups players the first two rounds based on their position in the standings.
 
Some 8,000 fans covered every inch of grass, except when they scattered as an errant shot bounced their way.
 
'It was a fun day,' Mickelson said. 'We just didn't get out of it what we wanted.'
 
Mickelson only had a couple of dodgy holes. He hooked his tee shot into the gallery on the par-5 seventh, hit another hook into the face of a cross bunker, then hit that one into a greenside bunker and escaped with par.
 
His caddie, Jim 'Bones' Mackay, looked ultra serious when he asked at the back of the green, 'Do you know the PGA TOUR record for most square footage of sand raked in a single round?'
 
One rake job was worth the trouble.
 
Mickelson hit 3-wood into the front bunker on the newly designed fourth hole, which tempts players to drive the green on the par 4. With the ball near the back lip, Lefty holed the shot for eagle to go to 3 under for his round.
 
Woods was in the middle of that bunker, but all anyone saw was a blast of sand -- no ball. It came out soft and plugged under the top lip of the bunker, so Woods lashed at it again to jar it loose and send it back to where he started. His third sand shot got to the green, and he missed the putt to take double bogey.
 
'I wasn't even trying to get cute with it,' Woods said. 'It just came out soft and buried under the lip.'
 
Four holes, and Mickelson was already six shots clear of the world's No. 1 player. When they made the turn, Woods had a 3-foot birdie putt to draw even and get back to level par. He missed, of course.
 
Singh, meanwhile, had issues beyond his four-putt at No. 1 and a three-putt at No. 8. He went from bunker to rough to hazard on the sixth hole and did well to escape with double bogey, and he shanked a 4-iron on the 11th hole that caromed out of the trees and into the rough in front of a bunker.
 
'Phil got off to a great start, just had one bad hole,' Woods said. 'I did not get off to a good start, and Vijay basically struggled all day. It was a bit of a grind out there.'
 
There were a few chilly vibes inside the ropes.
 
For the second straight week playing with Mickelson, Singh at times wore dark sunglasses that had ear plugs attached to them. At least the sun was shining outside Boston, unlike last week at The Barclays when he wore them under cloudy skies and a drizzle.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.