Garcia leads Woods, Mickelson at Deutsche Bank

By Doug FergusonSeptember 1, 2013, 1:16 am

NORTON, Mass. – Sergio Garcia opened with five birdies in seven holes, closed with an eagle, and wound up as the guy everyone was chasing Saturday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

By everyone, that means 28 players within six shots of his lead with 36 holes to play.

And somehow, that includes Phil Mickelson.

On another day of soft conditions and plenty of birdies on the TPC Boston, Garcia had a 7-under 64 during a cool, cloudy morning that stood up for the 36-hole lead when the long and wild afternoon was over. The Spaniard was at 13-under 129, one short of the tournament record. He had a one-shot lead over Roberto Castro and Henrik Stenson.

Tiger Woods, in the 1-2-3 grouping with Mickelson and Adam Scott that attracted a massive crowd standing three-deep in spots, made a 35-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 67 and was among those within six shots of the lead.

Mickelson, however, managed to steal the show with a 71.

And this was no ordinary 71.

''I was playing terrible, and I shot even par,'' Mickelson said. ''I could easily have shot myself out of the tournament. I got it in the hazard I don't know how many times. If I go on and play the way I believe I'm going to this weekend, I'm going to look back at those nine holes as the key to the entire tournament.''

Lefty went on some kind of crazy ride, completely losing his swing during one stretch when he looked closer to hitting Rhode Island than hitting a fairway. He drove left into the hazard on No. 9, way right into the hazard on No. 10 and would have found another hazard on the par-3 11th except for hitting a tree.

He hit into the gallery to the left on No. 12 and into the gallery to the right on No. 13. His tee shot on the par-3 16th came up short and into the water for double bogey. Mickelson closed with two birdies for a 71 and was five shots behind.

''It's embarrassing to hit shots like that, and to have a bunch of people out there, playing with Tiger and having every shot exposed on TV ... you know, it's embarrassing,'' Mickelson said. ''But we all have our moments like that. And you just have to deal with it.''

His recovery shot on the 11th was so good that Mickelson didn't bother explaining it. From a patchy lie, just inside 100 feet from the flag, the pin close to the edge, he took a full, hard swing with a wedge and hit it with so much spin that it rolled back to a few feet of the cup.

''To go ahead and try to play that shot with that much speed, and (he) didn't have a whole lot of room up there ... but he pulled it off,'' Woods said. ''And then he was struggling through that little stretch there. But he held the round together, and had a nice finish at the end.''


Video: Highlights from Woods, Mickelson and Scott

Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, videos and photos


Asked about the shot at No. 11, Mickelson replied, ''I could describe it, but nobody is going to understand that. It was a really good shot.''

He later tried. He mentioned the angle of attack and the angle of the face on the wedge and the weight ... and then he gave up on the explanation.

''It's not a very high percentage shot,'' he said.

And just think – the second event in the FedEx Cup playoffs is not even half over.

Stenson often refers to tournaments as three-and-a-half days of a marathon just to get to the back nine for a chance to win. If that's the case, this is starting to feel like a marathon with a 4-minute mile pace.

The cut was at 1-under 141, ending the season for some players who have no chance of being in the top 70 in the FedEx Cup to advance to the third playoff event in two weeks north of Chicago.

Woods didn't feel as though he got much out of his round, and a radio reporter suggested he might be capable of a round lower than 65 if he puts it all together.

''There's going to have to be to get back into this thing,'' Woods said. ''There's so many guys up there that are 9-under par or better. There's a ton of guys up there. It's going to take a couple of low rounds.''

Stenson had eight birdies and a clean card in his round of 63. Castro was 7 under for his round at the turn and had to settle for a 65 after a rough patch in the middle of his back nine. Matt Kuchar and PGA champion Jason Dufner each had 66 and were three shots behind. Justin Rose had a 63 and was another shot back, along with Jordan Spieth, who had a 66.

Garcia is not a regular at the second FedEx Cup playoff event. He prefers to take this week off to rest, but he couldn't guarantee that he would be among the top 70 in the standings after the Deutsche Bank Championship who will advance to the third event.

So far, it looks like a good move.

''Unfortunately, I didn't play well enough and it was touch-and-go if I was going to make the BMW without playing here,'' said Garcia, who is at No. 55. ''Sixteen guys could easily pass me if they played well. So we decided to come here and make a little bit of an extra effort of playing five weeks in a row, which I don't usually enjoy very much.''

Garcia looked as if he would be much higher in the FedEx Cup standings earlier this year, when he had top 10s in a World Golf Championship, the Masters and The Players Championship. But his year took a bad turn off the course. During a two-week spat with Woods that began at The Players Championship, Garcia jokingly said during a Q-and-A at an awards dinner in London that he would invite Woods over during for dinner during the U.S. Open and serve fried chicken.

He apologized the next day, though he was clearly rattled. Garcia hasn't finished in the top 20 since.

''Everything has been kind of a little difficult, but it's good,'' Garcia said. ''It's been a good learning experience. So I think that you always have to try to take the positives out of all those things and learn from your mistakes. And hopefully, (they) make you a better player, a better person.''

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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.