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
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - THE PLAYERS Championship
  • Getty Images

    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    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.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    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.

    Getty Images

    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    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.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.

    Getty Images

    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    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.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    ''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.

    Getty Images

    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    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.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.