Mickelson tied with Haas Tiger falters

By Doug FergusonJanuary 30, 2011, 4:16 am
Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – Phil Mickelson found the trick to playing the revamped South Course at Torrey Pines and left himself one round away from winning on a course that once felt like home.

Going against his nature, Mickelson played it safe again Saturday and wound up with a 4-under 68 to share the lead with Bill Haas going into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open. Haas missed a 4-foot putt par putt on the last hole for a 71.

It has been 10 years since Mickelson won his third title at Torrey Pines, a public course he grew up playing in San Diego.

“I love playing well in this tournament, and I’ve missed it,” Mickelson said.

Tiger Woods, who has not lost a tournament at Torrey Pines since 2004, shot himself out of the tournament with careless mistakes. Woods had a 2-over 74, ending his streak of 21 rounds at par or better on the South Course in PGA Tour events. He was eight shots behind, his largest 54-hole deficit at Torrey since 2004.

Even with his longtime nemesis out of the way, Mickelson doesn’t see an easy path to winning.

Haas is coming off a two-win season in 2010, and lost in a playoff a week ago at the Bob Hope Classic. He kept making enough birdies to keep in front of Mickelson, including a 25-foot putt on the 15th, the toughest on the course.

They were at 12-under 204.

Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson each made eagle on the par-5 18th to shoot 69 and were one shot behind. Another shot back was Anthony Kim, showing signs of turning his game. Kim escaped with only a bogey on the 15th after an adventure through the eucalyptus trees, and birdied the 18th for a 71.

John Daly, who pulled within one shot of the lead early in the third round, fell apart with a string of bogeys and shot 76.

Mickelson has taken every opportunity to criticize the South Course since Rees Jones redesigned it ahead of the 2008 U.S. Open. Lefty has yet to finish higher than fourth since then.

This time, Mickelson decided not to go for broke.

“I’m not taking on the risk. I’m just playing it much more conservative because the reward isn’t there,” he said. “This course doesn’t reward you for taking on any challenge. And my more conservative approach into the greens, albeit boring, has led me to be on top of the leaderboard.”

Only eight players managed to break 70 on “college day” at the tournament, when players were encouraged to wear their college colors or their team logos. Mickelson, who didn’t have any Arizona State garb on, matched D.A. Points for the low round.

Haas didn’t make too many mistakes, and pulled ahead with two good birdies. With the tee back in U.S. Open territory on the 13th, making it play over 600 yards, Haas nearly got home with a 3-wood that set up and easy up-and-down birdie. All that kept him out of the lead was a wedge that bounced over the firm 18th green into the rough.

Woods started the third round only five shots behind, and that was as close as he got.

It what has become a troublesome theme for Woods this week, the wedge is what held him back. From just over 100 yards in the fairway, he dumped a wedge into a bunker and left himself no shot, blasting out to 20 feet for bogey. That was followed by a three-putt bogey, and a bunker-to-bunker bogey on the fifth hole.

He picked up birdies on the par 5s on the front nine, and played 1 over the rest of the way. When he was in the fairway with a short iron or a wedge, he never gave himself many looks at birdie.

“I did not play well at all today,” Woods said. “It was a struggle all day, and I finally found something at 16, but 15 holes already had bone by. So that was pretty frustrating.”

A new season might bring an end to yet another streak for Woods. He has never finished out of the top 10 in his 12 tournaments as a pro, and ended Saturday in a tie for 24th.

The star of his group was Jhonattan Vegas, the Venezuela rookie coming off a playoff win at the Hope. He made his first meeting with Woods seem like an ordinary round. With some good par saves and a two-putt birdie at the end, he wound up beating Woods by five shots and still has a chance to win the tournament.

Vegas was at 9-under 207, only three shot out of the lead.

“I felt comfortable playing with him,” Vegas said. “And the crowd was crazy, but it was fun. I enjoyed it.”

Few people are having more fun than Mickelson, who hopes to have discovered how to win at Torrey Pines, and is relishing in having his wife, Amy, mingling in the crowd at a golf tournament for the first time since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2009. She showed up at the 18th green at the Masters when Mickelson won last year, and spent much of her time in a golf cart at the soggy Ryder Cup in Wales.

Mickelson now faces a familiar name. He has spent far more time playing with Jay Haas than his 28-year-old son, although he has seen enough of Bill Haas to know Sunday will require a lot of patience and a few putts.

There is nothing fancy about Haas except the fact he won twice last year and has another good chance Sunday.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

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?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

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

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

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.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


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.