Augusta Scouting Report
You couldnt design Augusta right now..We would all say, I cant play this. Its ridiculous.
Wednesday, at PGA National, Honda Classic defending champion Ernie Els was asked for his take on Ogilvys take.
Well, I wouldnt go that far, Els said, with respectful smile. .He (Ogilvy) is right in the fact that he says that if they kept on, how shall I say, massaging the golf course to the point where, yes, at times, when the weather turns, and flag positions are in certain parts, it becomes very much on edge.
In some cases, yeah, some of the years, some of the rounds weve played there, its been almost to the point where its laughable. But, hey, we play a major there. Its still a very good layout and they just try and test the players. At times, they have gone maybe past the point.
Spokesmen for the late Alister MacKenzie, the man who designed Augusta National, were not immediately available for comment. But golf course architecture cognoscenti are in general agreement that MacKenzie never built Augusta Nationals greens to run at the speeds the players get at the Masters.
Interestingly, the general consensus is the last time the Masters produced its famous Sunday roars was 2004 when Phil Mickelson birdied the 72nd hole to edge Els.
I think youre right, Els said. 2004 was the last time there was a really nice shootout.
DOS AMIGOS: Early last season Camilo Villegas gave his close friend Sergio Garcia a self-described figurative kick in the butt.
Listen, man, Villegas told him, youre better than youre playing. He kindve looked at me and said, You know, youre right.
Not long after that Garcia won The Players and finished the year ranked No. 2 in the world. Villegas wont take full credit for the turnaround. But, clearly, somebody needed to say something to Garcia, and Villegas said it.
What was it that caused Villegas to give his friend the advice?
I just said, Listen, buddy, come on, just forget about all the little things (outside of golf) that are happening,''Villegas said. Just stop complaining and crying for little things and play golf. I think he took it the right way and played great from there on.
MORE CAMILO: Next week for Villegas is the WGC-CA Championship at Doral where he was a rock star his rookie season en route to a second place 2006 finish. Does he look forward to all the attention he will get next week in Miami, where the Spanish-speaking population turns out in large numbers to see him play?
The media and the fans have been very, very good to me and thats nice, he said. It feels good.Do you really enjoy signing 200 autographs? Let me tell you, it can get to you, but its part of the job. The fans have been good to me. The media has been great. I try to be good to them.
In other words, Villegas gets it.
A LIST BARBECUE: The place to be for dinner Tuesday night was the home of Aussie Robert Allenby, who fired up the grill for friends and sponsors at his U.S. digs, which are just 10 minutes from PGA National.
Among those attending were reps from Srixon, Cleveland and TaylorMade. But, alas, there were no shrimp on the barbie.
I didnt get the kangaroo in on time, Allenby said, adding the main entre was good old-fashioned steaks.
Allenby pulled a few strings and scored a shipment of VB and Crown lagers courtesy of my friends at the Australian Embassy in Washington. VB is short for Victoria Bitter, a beer especially popular in the Melbourne, Allenbys birthplace.
Victoria Bitter, yeah, Allenby said. We call it Vitamin B in Australia.
SOUR NOTE?: Saxophonist Kenny G, a golf nut, co-sponsored the pro-am Wednesday and told a revealing story on himself that involved Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at the 2001 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in which G partnered with Mickelson.
Mickelson double-bogeyed the 72nd hole and G bogeyed it to leave them in a disappointing tie for first with Woods and his partner, Jerry Chang.
Walking off the green, Gs cell phone rang and it was Woods on the other end. Hey Kenny, its Tiger, said Woods, who turned out to be calling from his private plane. God, you really choked coming down 18, didnt you?
G said his response was something he cant now repeat which, he said, Woods enjoyed. Tiger went on to congratulate G for sharing the trophy. And, said G, Ill never forget that.
Asked if Woods had anything to say, on the call, about Mickelsons closing double bogey, G said, Well, he may have, but Im not going to tell you.
PET PEEVE OF THE WEEK: Losing a brand new golf ball the first time you hit it. (I will NEVER tee off on the first hole with a new ball.)
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.