With Woods gone fans go wild for Mickelson

By Associated PressMay 2, 2010, 3:53 am

Quail Hollow ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – The large crowd bunched together near the clubhouse was yelling “Phil! Phil! when Phil Mickelson was still inside signing his scorecard.

A man started chanting “Here we go Lefty, here we go!” as Mickelson began a television interview.

Eliminate Tiger Woods from the weekend, add a few afternoon cocktails to a Saturday crowd that didn’t seem to be thinned much by the world’s No. 1 player missing the cut, and Mickelson became the top attraction at the Quail Hollow Championship.

“I think that’s Charlotte, though,” Mickelson insisted after his 1-under 71 left him tied for second, two shots behind Billy Mayfair. “We get a lot more people at this tournament and they’re very supportive. I think it might be that.”

But it’s clear with Mickelson coming off another Masters victory and in contention for his first win here, he’ll be followed by a large gallery on Sunday when he’s in the next-to-last group.

“To be within a couple shots of the lead, I felt like I had to fight hard today and play hard because I didn’t have my best stuff,” Mickelson said as the fans shouted his name again. “I had to control my misses.”

GOOD AND BAD: Davis Love III was born in Charlotte and attended North Carolina. His daughter is with him this week and he heard plenty of “Go Heels!” chants while shooting a 4-under 68 on Saturday to put himself into contention for his first victory in two years.

But he’s not the only golfer who enjoys coming to Quail Hollow. Even a guy who missed the cut didn’t want to leave.

“I went out to pitch this morning and Derek Lamely was out there just working on his game and he goes, ‘Isn’t this place so nice?”’ Love said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ I guess he missed the cut and he was just out practicing, and he was happy.”

Lamely didn’t make the weekend after shooting 75-72. But his feelings about Quail Hollow are shared by many on the PGA Tour.

“This is a great place to play golf,” said Love, who went bogey-free Saturday to move within two shots of the lead and earn a pairing with leader Billy Mayfair in the final group Sunday. “It’s like a mini-major.”

Not that everyone is completely happy with the setup. Mickelson had his caddie keep the flagstick in on a long putt on 18 where he said he couldn’t play it toward the hole.

“For as beautifully designed as this golf course is from tee to green, the greens are some of the worst designed greens that we have on tour,” Mickelson said. “I would say 18 is the worst on this tour, but it’s not the worst on this golf course. Twelve is, and we have some ridiculous putts here that you just can’t keep on.”
Anthony Kim, the 2008 Quail Hollow champion who finished third in the Masters, was in good shape heading to the 16th hole at 7 under after consecutive birdies.

Trouble was, Kim soon was walking down the wrong fairway.

His tee shot on the par 4 was so far right he was “in the junk, let’s say very nicely,” according to Kim. He then got aggressive, trying to hit “a miracle shot.”

It didn’t work, the ball hit a tree and bounced backward, forcing him to play his third shot down the parallel 18th fairway.

Kim then faced a shot where he had to hit it over the grandstand.

“It was a pretty good shot,” Kim said. “I couldn’t see the flag properly because there were so many people, but you saw the top of it.”

Kim got it on the green, but missed the putt for bogey – and still was cheered – before finishing with consecutive pars and a 2-under 70 that left him four shots behind leader Billy Mayfair.

“I love North Carolina,” Kim said. “I may just buy a house out here. This is my favorite tournament.”
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy left the Masters two days early with a wayward game and an aching back, wondering if he needed a long break.

Three weeks later, his back and game are loosening up.

McIlroy, who needed an eagle late in his round Friday to make the cut, shot a 6-under 66 on Saturday at Quail Hollow. It left him just four shots off the lead and energized after his painful stretch that included two missed cuts.

“It’ll probably take another two or three months to clear fully,” McIlroy said of his back. “But I feel as if I can swing with a lot more freedom and I can actually practice more, hit more balls and spend more time on the range, which has definitely helped.”

McIlroy, who finished tied for 10th at the U.S. Open and tied for third at the PGA Championship last year, got off to a quick start in 2010 before his back first flared up in February when he finished sixth in Dubai.

“I’d get on the range and I’d maybe only hit 100 balls because I wasn’t feeling very good,” McIlroy said. “So I’d have to stop my session short there, and it’s sort of been like that for the last couple months.

“I’ve added a couple events to my schedule just to try and play a little bit more and just get a little bit of fluidity back into the season.”
After taking the Wachovia name off the tournament a year ago amid criticism during the bank bailouts, Wells Fargo is running television commercials during CBS’ telecast again. No decision has been made if the bank will rename the tournament in the future. Its contract as title sponsor runs through 2014. … Jim Furyk three-putted from about 12 feet for bogey on 18 for a 71, leaving him five shots back.

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."