Mickelson takes first-round lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2012, 2:10 am

LOS ANGELES – Four days after his big win at Pebble Beach, Phil Mickelson keeps right on rolling.

Mickelson hit driver off the deck from just under 300 yards on the par-5 11th that led to a two-putt birdie, and he ended a gorgeous afternoon Thursday at Riviera by chipping in from 35 feet for birdie. That gave him a 5-under 66 and a one-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open.

Dating to the back nine of his second round at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Mickelson has made birdie or eagle on one-third of the holes he has played. And his streak of consecutive holes without a bogey finally ended at 49 on the par-3 16th.

No matter. He looked good with the putter and with his low, penetrating tee shots that he kept below the tree line on a windy day that prevented low scoring.

J.B. Holmes, in his fourth tournament since returning from brain surgery in September, played his final six holes without a par. His round ended with a 315-yard tee shot – a big drive in the cool air of Los Angeles in February – and an approach to 8 feet for birdie at No. 9, the second-toughest hole at Riviera.

That gave him a 4-under 67. He was tied with Hunter Mahan, whose 35-foot birdie at No. 5 sent him on a string of four straight birdies.

They all played in the afternoon, when the wind began to die late in the day.

Jonathan Byrd, who faced the chilly, blustery conditions of the morning, had a 68. He was joined by Carl Pettersson.

The first round was suspended by darkness with 30 players yet to finish the round, a typical occurrence at this tournament with 144-man field and limited daylight.

Mickelson is coming off an 8-under 64 in the final round at Pebble Beach, where he rallied from a six-shot deficit – and beat playing partner Tiger Woods by 11 shots – to change the outlook on his West Coast Swing. Riviera is his final tournament before the Tour moves to Florida, and even on a different golf course, not much has changed.

He holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the long par-3 fourth hole, and then really got going on the back nine.

After a tough pitch to 12 feet that led to birdie on the 10th, Mickelson had 297 yards to the hole on the 11th and decided to hit driver, a shot he had not tried in months.

It came off perfectly and climbed onto the front edge of the green, making Mickelson the only player to have an eagle putt on the 587-yard hole, which played right into the wind. The pin was all the way back, away from a large hump in the putting surface, which gave Mickelson the green light.

His eagle putt from 60 feet died next to the hole.

“I didn’t think it was going to necessarily be reachable into that wind, but I was able to hit a low drive off the tee that scooted along the ground, and I felt like if I could hit one more of those with a driver I could get right up by the green,” Mickelson said. “I felt like it was worth the risk to try to scoop one up.”

The chip-in from behind the 18th was a bonus.

Mickelson made his lone bogey when his chip behind the 16th green ran 7 feet past the cup, and he missed the putt. On the 17th, his wedge rolled back to 7 feet for birdie, but the putt slid by on the left.

He faced another quick chip on the 18th, but it dropped in with perfect speed.

“It wasn’t one I was really trying to make,” he said. “It was quick, it was downhill, and I had to play about 4 or 5 feet of break, so it’s not one that you’re trying to get aggressive with. I was trying to get good speed and try to let it feed with the break, and I got fortunate, obviously, that it went in.”

Holmes was the first player to reach 5 under, and that’s where his fun began – consecutive bogeys when he failed to get up-and-down from just short of the green; a tap-in birdie at the par-3 sixth, with the pin below the bunker in the middle of the green; an 18-foot birdie on the seventh, a three-putt double bogey on the eighth and the birdie at the end.

He has struggled with a slight loss of power since brain surgery in September, and he even topped a shot in Phoenix a few weeks ago. But it’s all starting to come together.

“I feel like each week my swing has definitely gotten a little bit better and improved a little bit,” Holmes said. “My swing speed has slowly come back a little bit being out here and playing this much.”

Byrd woke up Thursday morning to hear the wind whipping at his rental house on the Pacific bluffs. The last thing he wanted to do was play golf at Riviera, but it worked out well for him. He made five birdies in the toughest of conditions. The average score from the morning wave was 73.7.

“We’re staying up on a bluff about five miles away,” he said. “I got out of bed this morning and walked outside, and I was pretty anxious about playing this golf course today because it was howling on top of that bluff. And it whipped all day. My approach was just to keep it in play and have a pretty conservative game plan.”

The afternoon players got a slight break, though the wind remained a factor.

“The last seven holes the wind started to die down progressively, and by the end, it couldn’t be playing any nicer or any better,” Mahan said. “So I was excited to come make some birdies late.”

DIVOTS: UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay, who didn’t miss a cut on the PGA Tour last year, opened with a 78. The Northern Trust Open also gave an exemption to Texas freshman Jordan Spieth, who had a 76. … Tim Clark, playing for the first time since The Players Championship because of elbow surgery, was 4 over through 16 holes.


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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

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


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

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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