Mickelson beats Els Woods for HSBC title

By Doug FergusonNovember 8, 2009, 4:56 pm

HSBC Championship

SHANGHAI – Phil Mickelson won the HSBC Champions on Sunday by rallying against a familiar foe.

Only it wasn’t Tiger Woods.

Mickelson made an 18-footer to save par on the 16th after whiffing on a flop shot, then holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th to close with a 3-under 69 and overcome a late charge by Ernie Els, who was in the lead until hitting into the water and making bogey on the final hole.

Woods was never a factor in the final World Golf Championship of the year, falling six shots behind on the front nine and doing well to stay on the leaderboard the rest of the way. He hit into the water with his third shot on the par-5 18th and had to scramble for bogey to close with a 72 and tie for sixth, five shots behind.

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods didn't present much of a challenge to Phil Mickelson. (Getty Images)
It was the third time in his last four tries that Woods played in the final group without winning.

Mickelson finished at 17-under 271 and earned $1.2 million in winning his second WGC event of the year. It was the first time he won a tournament while playing in the final group with Woods.

As clutch as Mickelson was down the stretch, Els was the opposite.

The South African, devastated when Mickelson beat him with a birdie on the final hole of the 2004 Masters, was 10 under for his round and had a one-shot lead playing the 538-yard 18th. From the middle of the fairway, he went at the green with a fairway metal and landed in the middle of the lake.

Els had 218 yards to the front of the green on a downslope in the fairway, not enough for him to hit 4-iron, while a 3-iron might go over the green and down the bank into the water. He opted to hit a high cut with his 5-wood and “basically duffed it.”

“But I can’t think about that,” Els said, who started the round seven shots behind. “For me to come back all the way, to actually share the lead at that point, was quite nice. I’m disappointed about that, but I’m going to really think about the 63 I shot.”

Els settled for a share of the course record at Sheshan International, a 9-under 63 matched earlier in the day by Rory McIlroy, who finished fourth, and Daisuke Maruyama of Japan.

Els waited in the scoring trailer for Mickelson to finish, and Lefty tried to keep it interesting. He drove into the massive gallery lining the left side of the fairway, then hit into the left rough just short of a bunker. But he hit wedge safely to the middle of the green, and rolled his birdie putt within tap-in range for another victory.

Mickelson won for the fourth time this year, tying a career best.

Ryan Moore, who only qualified for the HSBC Champions by winning his first PGA Tour title in August, closed with a 68 and finished alone in third, which should be enough to move him into the top 50 in the world.

Even with Woods out of the way, Mickelson has a way to keeping it entertaining.

Despite birdies on the 13th and 14th to keep him in the race with Els, it was a par that turned the tournament in his favor.

Mickelson was left of the 288-yard 16th green in short rough, a pot bunker separating him from the flag. Mickelson went for a high flop shot, and was stunned when the club slid through the grass and barely moved the ball.

He tried a bump-and-run that came up short and appeared destined to make bogey. His putt came off the hump of the green, and Mickelson pointed to the cup with his putter as it took one last turn to the left and dropped for par.

“I thought that was one of the best putts I’ve made in a long time,” Mickelson said. “When I made that putt – I didn’t know what Ernie was doing on 18 – but I knew I had a chance.”

McIlroy’s strong finish for fourth place allowed him to move into second place behind Lee Westwood in the Race to Dubai with one only tournament remaining before the Dubai World Championship and the $7.5 million bonus pool.

“It certainly gives me a lot of momentum going into the next two weeks,” McIlroy said. “Hopefully, it’s a bit of a springboard into the next two weeks. Looking forward to it now.”

Woods couldn’t wait to get out of China, where he had finished second his previous two trips to the HSBC Champions.

“Anything that could go wrong went wrong for me today,” Woods said.

Starting the round two shots behind, and playing in the final group with his chief nemesis for the first time in more than four years, Woods missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the second hole and a 10-foot birdie on the third. He followed that by hitting his tee shot into the water on the fourth for double bogey.

Then came a camera click on his tee shot at the seventh, leading security officials to manhandle one spectator back inside the ropes, and temporarily strip the credentials from a Reuters photographer who they thought had taken the picture early. He eventually was allowed to stay on the job.

Woods was on the verge of shooting 40 on the front nine until making his first birdie, then he followed with two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. By then, he simply was too far behind.

“I didn’t really envision shooting even par today,” Woods said. “I would have had to have shot 67 to get into a playoff. So the guys took it deep, and I didn’t.”

Mickelson now heads into a long winter’s break. Sunday was his final round of the year, and he now takes three months off before starting his 2010 season at Torrey Pines in late January.

 

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x