Solid start for Mickelson at St Jude Classic

By Doug FergusonJune 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. ' Phil Mickelson wasted no time firing up fans with birdies on the opening two holes. Then came a sliced tee shot into the water and a nearly four-putt green. He birdied two of the last three holes.
 
A typical round for one of golfs most unpredictable stars.
 
Returning to work for the first time since disclosing last month that his wife has breast cancer, Mickelson got off to a solid start in the St. Jude Classic with a 2-under 68 that left him four shots behind Brian Gay.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson was back to his usual scrambling self on Thursday. (Getty Images)
Mickelson wore a pink ribbon stitched into the side of his white cap and at times looked fatigued.
 
Jose Maria Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion recently elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, was the days surprise. Still coping with arthritis pain, the Spaniard shot a 66 to finish in a group that included Rich Beem and Graeme McDowell.
 
Under heavy clouds that brought brief showers midway through his round, Mickelson was easy to spot because of the some 750 fans following him ' one man dressed all in pink.
 
John Dalys comeback was for vastly different reasons, and the result not quite the same.
 
He played on the PGA Tour for the first time since a six-month suspension for off-course activities that brought unwanted publicity. Daly opened with eight straight pars and a birdie, but his putter failed him miserably. He followed with three straight bogeys for a 72.
 
Probably the worst Ive putted in five years, Daly said, wearing a neon green shirt that matched his argyle pants of green and yellow.
 
He offered little in how it felt to be playing before fans near his hometown in Arkansas, who followed him around the TPC Southwind and were treated to a round with few highlights, good or bad.
 
Gay has narrowly missed out on qualifying for the first two majors, although he has one chance left. Having won at Hilton Head last month, a victory this week would get him into the U.S. Open.
 
Mickelson openly shared his emotions and fears before the tournament. He was more guarded after his round Thursday, sticking mainly to his golf and the tropical vacation after the U.S. Open a week before Amy has surgery and begins treatment.
 
It wasnt a great round, but it was a good start, Mickelson said. It was fun to play a little bit.
 
He was particularly pleased with his group ' three-time major winner Padraig Harrington and Cameron Beckman. They chatted between shots, although his talk with Harrington before the round might have been the most meaningful.
 
Harrington won his first two PGA Tour events in 2005 while his father battled cancer. He missed the British Open that summer at St. Andrews when his father died.
 
I know when my dad had cancer, the easiest time was on the golf course because you dont have to answer any questions, Harrington said. You dont have to explain yourself on the golf course. Youve got to remember ' were quite proficient at dealing with that little white golf ball, not quite as good about explaining our emotions.
 
Mickelson spent seven hours practicing at Bethpage on Tuesday, then flew to Memphis for a news conference and a pro-am round. He rose at dawn Thursday for his first round on a course he has not played in eight years. But he said he felt fine, and had all afternoon and Friday morning to rest.
 
He could not have scripted a better start to his round, opening with an approach to 5 feet for birdie and holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the next hole, the par-3 11th.
 
Asked if it felt like a typical round, he replied, Once we got going.
 
I felt a little rusty, but I made a couple of birdies early, and that made it more relaxed, he said.
 
He made a bogey from a bunker was among the leaders until his only poor shot of the day at the worst spot, from the 18th tee. His ball went left into the pond, and Mickelson took double bogey.
 
He excited his following with a 3-iron around a tree and over the water on the par-5 third for a two-putt birdie, but gave that back when he three-putted the next green, having to make a 4-footer for his bogey.
 
Olazabal played four rounds at the Memorial, failed to make it through 36-hole U.S. Open qualifying on Monday and still hurts from injuries that have limited his play in recent years. He sure wasnt expecting a 66, or his name atop the leaderboard.
 
But thats the game of golf, he said. I played pretty solid today and managed to score well. I have to say that the greens were a little soft after the rain, and I think that helped a little bit.
 
Jerry Kelly and Richard S. Johnson were among those at 67, an important start because a victory by either would be a second over the last calendar year, earning a spot in the U.S. Open.
 

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  • Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

    A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

    In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

    “I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

    Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    “I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

    Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

    “We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

    How does she feel?

    “I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

    Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

    New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

    Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

    She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

    “I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

    Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

    “Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

    Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

    You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

    Race to the CME Globe

    Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

    Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

    The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

    Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

    Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

    So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

    Rolex Player of the Year

    The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

    Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

    Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

    Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

    It’s simple math.

    The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

    1st - 30 points

    2nd – 12 points

    3rd – 9 points

    4th – 7 points

    5th – 6 points

    6th – 5 points

    7rd – 4 points

    8th – 3 points

    9th – 2 points

    10th – 1 point

    Vare Trophy

    Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

    Money-winning title

    Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking

    World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

    Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

    At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

    Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

    By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

    Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

    ''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

    Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

    ''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

    Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

    ''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

    ''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

    ''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

    He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

    ''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

    Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

    ''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''