Phils Thrill Tigers Defeat

By Brian HewittSeptember 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
And, to think, we are only halfway home.
The FedExCup Cup playoffs, criticized by just about everybody with an opinion or and agenda, has officially become a promoters dream.
Tiger and Phil. Stevie and Bones. Be sure to tune in again next week at Cog Hill near Chicago for Round Three of this four round duel to the golfing death. In pro wrestling they call this a cage match.
Fortunately golf is not pro wrestling. But its suddenly catching the attention of a lot of people who might otherwise be thinking football right now.
Yes, Phil Mickelson rubbed Tiger Woods nose in the dirt a little bit Monday near Boston. And, yes, there were a fair amount of TOUR players who privately took delight in seeing Tiger get his temporary comeuppance.
Mickelson fired a sizzling 66, needing just 23 putts to win the Deutsche Bank Championship at 16 under, two better than Woods, Arron Oberholser and Brett Wetterich. For 10 years Ive struggled against Tiger, Mickelson said, moments after his 33d Tour victory. This was a really fun day.
But there are two more weeks left to this thing they call the FedExCup and many unanswered questions. Woods, the No. 1 ranked player in the universe, may have been a little bit bloodied Monday near Boston where Mickelson took him down. But we now have a week to ponder whether or not he is unbowed. For his part, Mickelson said he might not even play near Chicago next week at the BMW Championship.
The newest FedExCup point standings have Mickelson at the top followed, in order, by Steve Stricker, Woods, K. J. Choi, Rory Sabbatini and Vijay Singh. Because the BMW field will be just 70 players, they will go off in twosomes next Thursday. That means Mickelson and Woods, it should be noted, will NOT be paired the first two days.
To be sure, one of the mostly unforeseen benefits of a FedExCup system most people havent gotten their hands around yet is the consistent likelihood of spectacular groupings.
After The Barclays and Week One of the playoffs, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh ranked fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in the FedExCup point standings. That meant they would be playing in the same grouping in the first and second rounds. This trio had never played together, as a threesome, before on the PGA TOUR.
Strangely, the Big Three played horribly their first nine holes Friday, the first day of the event. Singh four-putted his first hole; Woods made a double bogey on the drivable par 4 fourth; and Mickelson butchered the ninth hole, making bad choices and a triple bogey.
Saturday all three bounced back with more elasticity than a bungee cord. Woods and Mickelson hung a pair of 7-under 64s on the board while Singh tagged along with a tidy 66. Suddenly people were talking about the FedExCup on radio shows and in grill rooms all over the country.
(I know this because my regular Saturday golf group peppered me with FedExCup questions after our round. I knew the answers to most, but not all, of their questions. Sunday morning I spent 45 minutes on the phone with a knowledgeable golf radio guy in Chicago, Phil Kosin. The subject was almost exclusively FedExCup. Kosin doesnt like the FedExCup. But the fact that we spent that much time dissecting it is good for the concept.)
Meanwhile, Mickelson and Woods, in the same group, rarely needs intrigue to spark interest. But intrigue is what it got early during Deutsche Bank week when Mickelson hinted broadly that his current swing instructor, the estimable Butch Harmon, had given him tips on how to deal with his former student, Tiger Woods.
Prior to Monday's final round Mickelson and Woods had played in the same group 18 times in official PGA TOUR events. Woods had shot the lower score nine times. Mickelson had shot the lower score five times. And they had shot the same score four times. Monday Woods' 67 was one shot worse than Phil's 66.
About the previous failures, Mickelson said this: In the past I havent played that well with Tiger. He (Harmon) told me a couple of things he (Woods) likes to do and I kinda was watching for it. And I chuckled throughout the round when Id pick up on it. Working with Butch has really helped me understand how to play my best golf when I play in the same group with Tiger and I hope I have a chance to do that on Monday.
He got that chance when Aaron Baddeley made a mess of the 18th hole in his third round. That set up the twosome of Woods and Mickelson playing in the second to last group behind Arron Oberholser and 54-hole leader Brett Wetterich.
So just what was Phil talking about here? Gamesmanship ploys? Intimidation tactics? Mickelson wasnt saying. He opened the door and left it up to us to try and figure out exactly how Harmon was helping him figure out Woods.
Early on Monday Mickelson played like a guy who knew something he hadnt previously known. He birdied three of the first six holes and seized the lead all to himself at 14-under. Woods was 1-under through the same stretch and trailed Mickelson by three. First week FedExCup points leader Steve Stricker, who had captured The Barclays, birdied four of his first seven and was within two of Mickelson.
The drama was building. And you couldnt help but have the sneaking suspicion that the TOUR had at least something to do with it. Its common knowledge that most fans prefer birdies to bogeys. The scoring at Deutsche Bank in the third round was the lowest (69.973) in the events history'for any round. Put it this way: There were more than a few friendly hole locations and/or tee box set-ups on the weekend.
And you know what?
Why not?
Anyway, Stricker cooled. Mickelson survived a double bogey on the 12th and Woods just couldnt get his putter to work its usual magic on the back nine.
So now the circus tent moves to Cog Hill. The FedExCup gains more traction by the moment.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Deutsche Bank Championship
  • Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.