The Winners Lefty and THE PLAYERS - COPIED

By Brian HewittMay 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSThe Winners: Mickelson And The Players
 
Actually there are six majors. Or, I should say, six mens golf events that compel me, over and above all the others.
 
They are, in order of interest to me: The U.S. Open, The Masters, The Ryder Cup, THE PLAYERS, The PGA Championship and The Open Championship.
 
The Ryder Cup and THE PLAYERS are unofficial majors and are doing just fine without being part of Tiger Woods countdown to Jack Nicklaus.
 
And THE PLAYERS is the most improved of the bunch. For what its worth, it now has the best clubhouse. It has the best field. It has the biggest purse. It doesnt have the best golf course'Augusta National will always be No. 1 there'but its not that far behind any more.
 
And a younger generation of television viewers has come to know its holes almost as well as the holes at The Masters. The U.S. Open traditionally ends of Fathers Day. Now THE PLAYERS, with its new May dates, ends on Mothers Day.
 
THE PLAYERS gets incrementally better, from stem to stern, each year. Sunday at TPC Sawgrass THE PLAYERS staged a pretty good little final round duel between Phil Mickelson and Sean OHair.
 
Mickelson won his first PLAYERS in 14 tries when OHair hit two balls into the water on 17, bogeyed 18 and spent about three quarter of a million on the last two holes alone. Mickelson shot a final round 69, earned $1.62 million dollars and vaulted past Jim Furyk and into the No. 2 spot in the world rankings.
 
The stage is set for next months U.S. Open at Oakmont where the pre-tournament story undoubtedly will be Mickelson vs. Tiger Woods.
 
At the outset Sunday, the fourth round quickly devolved into a kind of match race between Mickelson and OHair, the final pairing. OHair led at the start at 9 under, one better than Mickelson. The second-to-last group of Peter Lonard and Jeff Quinney began at 7 under produced two bogeys on the first hole. Their struggles continued.
 
For the second straight day Mickelson birdied the first and second holes. OHair matched him at the par-5 second with a nifty up and down. Mickelson then took the lead for the first time on the par-4 seventh with a 14-footer. He would never relinquish it.
 
Meanwhile Spains Jose Maria Olazabal, who opened with an horrific 78 Thursday, started climbing his way up the leaderboard. After bogeying No. 1 he birdied the second, seventh, ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th holes to get to 8 under, just two back of OHair. Olazabal wound up tied for third with Stewart Cink, one back of Sergio Garcia. Garcia birdied 14, 15, 16 and 17 and was rewarded for his efforts with second place.
 
At 41 years of age, Olazabal had followed the 78 with a Friday 66 and a Saturday 69. He was looking to become the first Euro to win THE PLAYERS since Sandy Lyle way back in 1987. No European has won the PGA Championship since Tommy Armour in 1930. No European has won the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970. No European has won a major championship of any kind since Paul Lawrie defeated Justin Leonard and Jean Van de Velde at Carnoustie in 1999.
 
World No. 1 Woods, by the way, showed once again that he doesnt know how to mail it in. He started the day nine shots off the lead and with virtually no shot at catching the leaders.
 
After a double bogey at the fourth he responded with four straight birdies starting at No. 8. Then he stepped on a 6-iron from 199 yards on the par-5 16th. The ball stopped 9 and a half feet from the hole and he drained the putt for eagle. Woods parred the final two holes to finish with a closing 67 and an even par total of 288 for 72 holes.
 
Mickelson has now finished third, third and first since officially switching instructors from Rick Smith to Butch Harmon. Afterward he thanked Smith, Harmon and Dave Pelz, his short game guru.
 
He also thanked all the mothers of the world.
 
A more gracious winner you won't find.
 
A more improved event you won't find.
l
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Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - THE PLAYERS Championship
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

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    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry