Haas leads with Mickelson and Woods in hunt

By Doug FergusonJanuary 29, 2011, 4:45 am
Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson generate a little more excitement at just about any tournament they play, and it doesn’t hurt when they’re both in contention going into the weekend.

It gets even better at Torrey Pines.

The Farmers Insurance Open has served up a leaderboard that could not have come at a better time for the PGA Tour – its first weekend of network television coverage, and golf won’t be competing against any NFL playoff games.

Bill Haas shot a 6-under 66 on the South Course to take a two-shot lead Friday over Anthony Kim, an explosive young American who seems torn between being like Woods on the course and John Daly off the course.

Behind them is no shortage of star power.

Mickelson closed with back-to-back birdies to turn an ordinary round into a decent one, giving him a 3-under 69 on the North Course. That put him three shots behind, along with three of his Ryder Cup teammates – Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler – and defending champion Ben Crane. Also three shots behind is Daly.

Yes, that John Daly.

Never mind that Daly’s last win anywhere in the world was seven years ago at Torrey Pines, when he got up-and-down from 100 feet away in a bunker for a playoff victory. He put together rounds of 67-69, enough to make some wonder if he has any magic left.

“With me, you don’t know what to expect,” Daly said. “I just like the way I’m hitting the golf ball.”

And then there’s Woods, who hasn’t lost a tournament at Torrey Pines since the year Daly won. He was right in the mix after four straight birdies until he lost momentum with a par at the turn, then lost strokes by twice taking two shots to get out of a bunker. About the only thing that saved him were the final three holes.

Woods, who was eight shots behind at one point, hit a 5-iron to 12 feet for birdie on the 16th. From a plugged lie in the face of a bunker on the 17th, he blasted out to 20 feet and made the bending par putt. He finished with a 5-wood from 248 yards that had him crouching with hope that it would clear the water, then waving to a massive crowd when it did.

The two-putt birdie gave him another 69, and while he remained five shots back, only 11 players were ahead of him.

“It’s a round that easily could have slipped away,” he said.

Instead, it set the stage for a weekend on CBS Sports that could turn out to be quite a show. That much was evident in the final hour, as the gallery swelled under the brilliant sunshine and endless views of the Pacific. The fans crammed in around the 16th green, and they lined both sides of the 18th fairway as Woods finished his round.

When it was over, traffic on Interstate 5 leaving Torrey Pines was even more brutal than usual for a Friday afternoon.

No wonder this is one of the most coveted dates on the West Coast for PGA Tour events. It’s where Woods usually makes his debut, where Mickelson always plays – and in this case, where just about anyone can win.

Sixteen players were separated by five shots going into the weekend, which includes Dustin Johnson and Jhonattan Vegas, the rookie from Venezuela who is coming off a playoff win last week in the Bob Hope Classic.

Vegas said earlier this week he had never met Woods, with whom he will be playing Saturday. Woods recalls meeting him at Isleworth during a college tournament last year when Vegas’ brother was playing. So the world No. 3 must not have made much of an impression.

Daly, of course, is impossible to ignore.

He is more than 100 pounds lighter since that last win at Torrey Pines, and his clothing is so bright and loud that even the blimp can pick him up on the course without having to zoom in.

His game is worth some attention, at least through two days.

“When you’re hitting the ball solid, it’s easier to figure out what you’re doing wrong,” Daly said. “As long as I keep doing that, just go out and make a few putts, there’s no telling what might happen.”

Haas ran off four birdies around the turn, and only a late bogey kept his lead from being any larger. The son of Jay Haas, who won at Torrey Pines in 1978, he was a can’t-miss kid out of Wake Forest who didn’t turn any heads until recently. Haas won the Bob Hope Classic and Viking Classic a year ago, giving him more wins in 2010 than Woods and Mickelson combined.

He was at 11-under 133, and coming off a playoff loss a week ago at the Hope. So he’s doing something right.

“A nice 36 (holes) on the weekend could turn this into a great week,” Haas said.

Kim played alongside Woods and birdied his opening four holes. He was tied for the lead after a tap-in birdie at the 10th, but bogeyed the next hole and finished with seven pars, including a three-putt on the 18th.

“I’m really close,” Kim said. “I know I’ve said it a million times. I’m not going to say it again. I’ve just got to make a couple of birdies and see what happens.”

Mickelson did his work on what used to be the pitch-and-putt North, where the rough is deeper than ever and the fairways are narrow and at times extremely difficult to hit. Lefty missed several chances until the end of his round.

“To make those last two felt good, and I’m looking forward to the weekend,” he said.

Making it better was the sight of his wife, Amy, mingling in the gallery for the first time since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2009. She basked in glorious sunshine as she walked with a group of friends and couldn’t go more than 100 yards without some spectator approaching to wish her well.

“It’s been a lot of fun having Amy out here this week,” Mickelson said. “She just looks terrific. After a year and a half, we’re in such a better place, and it’s been a lot of fun having her out here.”

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

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Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm