Tiger Woods in his comfort zone against worlds best

By Doug FergusonNovember 4, 2009, 6:07 pm

HSBC Championship

SHANGHAI – Tiger Woods is playing for the third time in China with a strategy he’s used in winning 81 times around the world.

“Finish lower than anybody else,” Woods said Wednesday at the HSBC Champions.

That has proved elusive at Sheshan International Golf Club, and it doesn’t figure to be any easier this time around.

Woods headlines the strongest field ever in Asia, which includes world No. 2 Phil Mickelson, three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, defending champion Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, who leads the Race to Dubai.

The world’s No. 1 player was runner-up in 2005 and 2006 at the HSBC Championship, the latter when he finished two shots behind a South Korean that hardly anyone knew – Y.E. Yang, who is far more famous now.

Yang became the first player to win a major championship where Woods had the 54-hole lead, winning by three shots in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine. It was the first major for an Asian-born player.

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“It was a relaxed atmosphere for me,” Yang said. “Now, there’s a little bit more pressure, I guess. I’m not as relaxed as I was back in ’06. Maybe it’s because Tiger is here. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through a lot of tournaments. Maybe it’s because the stress finally is trickling down.”

There is a lot more punch behind the fifth edition of this tournament. On each of the bright red signs at tee boxes and grandstands is that familiar logo of a spinning globe to signify this has become a World Golf Championship, the first individual WGC held in Asia.

That might help Woods get over the hump.

Woods has won a WGC event every year since the series began in 1999, including the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in August. He now has won 16 times in his 30 starts in the WGCs, and has never finished out of the top 10 in a stroke play WGC event.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing against such great fields,” Woods said. “That’s the whole idea of having the World Golf Championships. It’s not just the major championships that we all get together, and The Players (Championship). It’s now these World Golf Championships events. It’s a lot of fun for players to compete against these guys. For some reason, I’ve also had a lot of success.”

Garcia and Mickelson are past champions at Sheshan International, and the memories are particularly fond for Garcia.

A year ago, his victory moved him to a career-high No. 2 in the world, and he had opportunities earlier this year to move past Woods to No. 1 in the world ranking. Instead, the 29-year-old Spaniard has gone an entire season without winning.

He’s hopeful that will change this week.

“It’s a deeper field,” Garcia said. “A World Golf Championship always has a little bit more special feeling.”

Even so, the biggest threat might be Mickelson.

With a putting tip from former PGA champion Dave Stockton, Mickelson feels as though he has put all the pieces together. It showed at the Tour Championship, which he won by three shots over Woods, and at the Presidents Cup, where he was 4-0-1.

Mickelson struggled last week at the Singapore Open, although he chalked that up to a grass he had never seen on the putting surfaces. He says he is just as excited now as he was when the FedEx Cup ended on the PGA Tour.

And it’s a big week for Lefty outside the ropes, too.

Mickelson disclosed Wednesday that he has two golf projects in China – a massive complex in Kumming that will feature two golf courses, a par 3 course and a teaching academy with former swing coach Rick Smith; and a course in Tian Jim in which the design is to be inspired by golf holes from around the world.

At a downtown press conference Tuesday, Mickelson spoke of the importance of helping stoke interest in China, and that it helps when he and Woods are among those appearing overseas.

This will be the first time they have competed against each other in Asia.

“I think this is a very important event for the players,” Mickelson said. “We want to help grow the game here in China. We want to compete against the best players in the world. And to be able to win a world-class event in China would mean a lot to me and all of the other players in the field.”

As for his courses, and his efforts to translate his short-game DVD and book into Chinese?

“To win here would help my cause in promoting the game of golf here,” Mickelson said.

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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

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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.


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''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.


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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.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.