Imada leads by two at Torrey Pines Mickelson four back
Imada avoided the trouble that caught up with so many other contenders Saturday, making only one bogey and escaping with several key pars for a 2-under 70 that gave him a two-shot lead over Ben Crane and Michael Sim in the Farmers Insurance Open.
Imada essentially won the B-Flight two years ago when he closed with a 67 to finish eight shots behind Woods. No matter the score or who’s in the field, he obviously has figured out something about the tough South Course at Torrey Pines.
He was at 13-under 203 and will be in the final group with Crane, who had a 69, and Sim, the 25-year-old Australian playing Torrey Pines for the first time since he was a teenager at the Junior World Championship in 2002.
“The score looks pretty solid, but it was a struggle out there,” Imada said.
He made a nifty up-and-down from short of the 15th green for one par, saved another par from left of the 16th green, and finished the day with a 35-foot birdie putt that gave him a slightly bigger cushion than he expected.
For so many others, birdies were offset by adventures.
Phil Mickelson lost a ball in a eucalyptus tree and took double bogey, then rallied for a 70 and was four shots behind. U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover made double bogey on one of the easiest par 4s, then followed with four birdies for a 68, leaving him three shots behind going into Sunday.
D.A. Points, who shared the lead with Imada after two rounds, kept pace until he chipped over the 14th green and into the hazard, scrambling for a double bogey. He had a 74, although he was still in the mix.
Ten players were separated by four shots going into the final round, which isn’t much on a course that hosted the U.S. Open in 2008.
“You cannot predict what’s going to happen in this game, especially on this course,” Crane said.
Mickelson would not have predicted seeing a ball get stuck in a tree – two days in a row. On Friday, it happened in his group to Ryan Palmer. This time, it was Lefty who stared up into the eucalyptus tree, even sending a young fan up the tree to help.
“My short game kept me in it,” Mickelson said. “I didn’t hit the ball the way I’ve been hitting it coming in. I don’t feel like it’s far off. But at least I’m in a position now where a good round tomorrow can get it done.”
Mickelson and so many others were in range.
Brandt Snedeker, who played in the final group at Torrey Pines in 2007, birdied the last hole for a 68 and was in the group at 207 along with Mickelson, K.J. Choi (69), highly regarded rookie Rickie Fowler (70), Matt Every (72) and Points.
Ernie Els had a 69 to lead the group at 8-under 208 that also featured Robert Allenby, who has two victories and a runner-up finish in his last three tournaments.
“You can’t really fake it around here,” Els said.
That much was clear on a sun-filled day along the Pacific bluffs. Points was one shot out of the lead and in front of the 14th green trying it pitch to a back pin. It came out a little strong, tumbled down the hill and into a hazard.
Even more adventurous was Mickelson.
He drove left over the cliff on the fourth hole and down the hill in the plants, just above Black’s Beach. Mickelson found his ball, managed to get it back onto the golf course and then thrilled his large crowd with a par.
He wasn’t as fortunate with his next mistake.
Mickelson hit another tee shot to the left on the par-4 seventh, and the fans could hear it clatter into a eucalyptus tree. They just couldn’t hear it land. By the time Mickelson arrived at the base of a tree, rules official Steve Rintoul already had his binoculars out. He had spotted one ball lodged in the branches, but couldn’t identify it as a Callaway with Mickelson’s markings.
One man offered to climb into the tree. Mickelson, not as spry at age 39, gave his full blessing. The man climbed 10 feet into the tree and shook with all his might as the crowd cheered him on. The ball never came down, but it moved enough for Mickelson to realize it wasn’t his. He headed back to the tee and hit another drive behind the trees, and did well to escape with double bogey.
By the end of the day, he still had a chance.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.
There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.
It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.
Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”
Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.
“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.
For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.
Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.
Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.
While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.
When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?
Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.
After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.
The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.
That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.
The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.
While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.
Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.
Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.
“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”
The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.
That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.
Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.
Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.
Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain
The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.
Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.
"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."
Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.
Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.
Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.