Notes: Chubby's clients continue the run; Tiger's brilliant texts

By Doug FergusonJuly 18, 2011, 1:34 am

SANDWICH, England – Phil Mickelson had to settle for his seventh runner-up finish in a major, although there was some consolation in seeing Darren Clarke on his way to his first major championship.

Clarke’s wife, Heather, died of breast cancer in August 2006, just a month before The Ryder Cup in Ireland. Nearly three years later, Mickelson’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“He was one of the first people that called us, Amy and I, a couple years ago,” Mickelson said. “He’s been through this and couldn’t have been a better person to talk to. We talked for a few hours a couple of times. He’s a tremendous person and a very good friend, and I couldn’t be happier for him. It was fun to try to make a run at him.”

Mickelson’s wife is doing better. She walked with him at Torrey Pines this year, then at The Masters, and after a quick vacation to Paris with the kids, came to the final round at Royal St. George’s.

Mickelson said Clarke essentially told him what to expect during his wife’s recovery process.

“I mean, he’s been through it all, and so I was very appreciative of the time we spent,” Mickelson said.

Clarke likes to keep private conversations just that, although he made clear how much the Mickelsons have meant to him. At the 2006 Ryder Cup, when Clarke walked into the opening and closing ceremonies without an escort, Amy Mickelson walked between Mickelson and Clarke to be with both of them so that Clarke wouldn’t walk alone.

“Phil has been through an awful lot with Amy, and we have spoken quite a lot,” Clarke said. “He has turned into a very good friend of mine through thick and thin, and he said some very, very kind words to me there after the thing, which is great. And Amy is looking fantastic, as well.”


CHUBBY’S CHASERS: Chubby Chandler of International Sports Management is having quite a run when it comes to major championship winners. He got one at the U.S. Open in Rory McIlroy and added another when Darren Clarke won the British Open.

Clarke has been with Chandler since turning pro more than two decades ago, so the major was a long time coming.

“He’s had to work hard for his money looking after me,” said Clarke, who turned to Chandler at the trophy ceremony and said, “I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me through thick and thin.”

None of Chandler’s clients had won a major championship until Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open last year. Then Charl Schwartzel followed with a win at the Masters and McIlroy won the U.S. Open.

In all, Chandler clients have won four of the last five majors.


CLARKE’S TEXTS: Tiger Woods reached out and offered some advice to Darren Clarke on how to handle the pressure chasing his first major championship.

Clarke called the texts sent after Saturday’s third round brilliant, though he wasn’t saying what they said.

“That’s personal and private between the two of us,” Clarke said. “I’m not going down that road at all.”

Clarke was a bit more open about the texts he got from Rory McIlroy. They, he said, were similar to the texts he sent McIlroy as he went after the U.S. Open title last month at Congressional Country Club.

“Sort of “be patient” with Rory and ‘keep doing what you’re doing, keep playing the way you’re playing,”’ Clarke said. “He was sort of telling me the same things I said back to him. As opposed to me being the old wise one and he was trying to give me all the information. So it was different.”

The advice apparently worked, as Clarke won the British Open by three shots.


SERGIO’S SUMMER: And to think that six weeks ago, Sergio Garcia wasn’t even eligible for the U.S. Open or British Open.

The 31-year-old Spaniard changed his mind and entered the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier, not only getting into the field at Congressional but finishing in a tie for seventh.

Then he got into the British Open at the last minute, when he lost a playoff in the BMW International Open in Germany. His earnings in Germany, along with what he won in the U.S. Open, was enough to finish among the top two on a special money list for players not already exempt. He put that to good use Sunday, closing with a 68 to finish among the top 10.

That should be enough to make him eligible for his first World Golf Championship of the year next month at Firestone.

It’s safe to say his fortunes are changing.

“It’s great,” Garcia said. “I think the U.S. Open and Munich were very, very important because that was my last chance to get here. I’ve said it over and over again, this is my favorite championship of the year.”


CASHING IN: Thomas Bjorn, Anthony Kim and Simon Dyson needed a few breaks just to get into the British Open. Once there, they made the best of their good fortune.

All three players were alternates, needing other players to withdraw before they could get in. In Bjorn’s case that didn’t happen until Monday night, when Vijay Singh withdrew.

Bjorn got in only one practice round, but promptly went out to shoot 65 and share the first round lead. He finished the tournament in fourth place, four shots back, and cashed a check for $419,416.

Kim was in contention in the final round, too, finishing tied for fifth for a $293,054 payday. And Dyson finished tied for ninth, pocketing $168,304.


LONG TIME COMING: Darren Clark went 54 starts in the majors – and 20 in the British Open – before finally winning one.

That wasn’t the longest stretch of futility, though.

Tom Kite holds the record by playing in 72 majors before winning his first one in 1992 at the U.S. Open. Mark O’Meara played in 59 majors until winning the Masters in 1998 at age 41. O’Meara then won the British Open that summer, and he remains the oldest player to win two majors in one year.

Maybe that will be Clarke’s next target.

“Can I say that’s it? I’m going to retire now? I can’t,” Clarke said. “I don’t just want to rest on this. I want to keep on going, keep on working on what I’m working on because my golf was obviously very good this week, albeit it was links and links does suit me. But I still feel as if I can compete with the best players in the world, and that’s what I want to do.”


MAJOR EXEMPTIONS: Thomas Bjorn didn’t get his full redemption at Royal St. George’s. But at least he got in as an alternate. And he played well enough to finish in fourth place. That not only is enough to make him exempt for the British Open next year, the top four get into the Masters.

It will be his first time to the Masters in five years.

The top 15 return to the British Open next year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

That will be good news for Chad Campbell and Davis Love III, who had to go through a qualifier near Dallas that was reduced to 18 holes this year because of weather. It also helps Simon Dyson, who was an alternate, and George Coetzee, who played in his first British Open after winning the last spot in the England-based qualifier.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.