Tiger Phil Theyre Equal

By George WhiteMay 10, 2006, 4:00 pm
You can throw Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson into a hat, shake them up, and draw them out in order of who is having the better season. And you will get the same result regardless of whom you pick - twiddle-de-dum or twiddle-de-dee, a tit for a tat, even-Stephen ' they are about as close as any two people can get.
 
Statistics agree with what I am saying, incidentally. Yes, I know that statistics generally are for losers. But when you get enough of them, they at least give you an idea of the relative rankings. It appears, then, that the year 2006 - at least the first half - is as close to a tie as you can get.
 
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are easily the top 2 players in the world at the moment.
Of course, sometimes an idea is skewered, too ' this year Woods has been forced to deal with the tragic illness and then the death of his father and has finished just six tournaments. Mickelson has played 11. Woods had to withdraw from one tournament with illness. And the number will stay the same after this week - neither is playing the EDS Byron Nelson.
 
Mickelson leads the TOUR in money won. The top four have all played the same amount of events, and Mickelson holds the edge by more than $275,000 over the No. 2 money-winner, Jim Furyk. Woods, incidentally, is No. 5 in total money.
 
But ' Tiger leads the TOUR by a longshot in money won per event played. Hes averaging $414,185 per event, while Mickelson is second at $294,363.
 
HOWEVER ' ready for lesson No. 1 in why you cant always trust statistics? ' the large disparity could be simply because Woods has played in tournaments where the average payout is greater. Six tournaments probably isnt a large enough statistical advantage to tell definitively who is the better player.
 
Tiger and Phil are almost identical in driving distance. Tiger averages 300.6, Phil 300.5. But Mickelson has hit almost 44 percent of his drives 300-plus yards, while Woods has hit just over 38 percent of his 300-plus. Who has an advantage here? Maybe Mickelson, but it is really too close to call.
 
Lets talk driving accuracy. Mickelson finds the fairway about 3 in 5 times ' 60.3 percent, which is 97th on TOUR. Thats much better than Woods, who hits the fairway only 56.5 percent of the time - way down at No. 153 on TOUR.
 
HOWEVER ' Tiger says this statistic is overrated because if a drive dies in the first cut, half an inch off the fairway, it still counts as being in the rough. Theres a big difference in being in the first cut, where the rough has little effect, to being in the second cut, where the high grass really affects the shot that is played. Maybe Tiger has a point. Lets look at greens hit in regulation, which is the whole point of the drive, anyway:
 
Mickelson is first in greens in regulation at 72.0. Tiger, true to his word, is third on TOUR at 71.2. Thats less than a percentage point difference ' virtually even.
 
Now lets get to a statistic where there really is a marked difference ' putting. Mickelson is No. 1 ' the best. Woods has been having a poor putting season, standing 142nd. In the category of three-putt avoidance, Tiger is even worse ' 189th.
 
HOWEVER ' Woods has an excellent reputation as a clutch putter in his 10-year career. Many players have said that if they only had one player to putt a 6-footer for them, they would pick Tiger. Has the illness of his father had any effect on him as he stood and tried to concentrate? Maybe - if you are looking for reasons for shabby putting stats, this could be a definite factor. But theres no question that, this year, Phil has a big edge in holing putts.
 
Conversely, Mickelson is way down at 183rd in sand-save percentage. The sand-save category is one of the most misleading of statistics. However, he has been in bunkers 50 times, and only saved par on 18 occasions. Undoubtedly he isnt No. 183 on TOUR, but this figure would indicate that sand play has been a problem for him ' especially for a player who leads in putting.
 
Woods, incidentally, ranks No. 75 from the sand, saving par 15 times in 30 tries. He averages getting the ball 10 feet, 5 inches from the pin on bunker shots ' thats No. 126 on TOUR. Mickelson gets it 9 feet, 7 inches, which is No. 90. HOWEVER, the bunkers are, of course, not the same distance from every hole. So unless we are talking about a specific hole, the distance away from the cup is basically meaningless.
 
Now, though, for the important stats ' Mickelson is No. 1 in birdie average while Tiger is No. 2. Neither has played the par-3s well, comparatively speaking ' Phil is No. 20 on TOUR, Tiger is No. 125. But Mickelson is No. 1 in below-par figures on par 5s, No. 2 on par 4s. Tiger is No. 5 and No. 4, respectively.
 
Scoring average ' another important statistic. Phil leads the TOUR at 69.41. Tiger stands third at 69.62. Mickelson would be even better, except they have a fourth round in these tournaments. His fourth-round scoring average is 71.10. Along with a 65, a 66 and two 67s, hes also thrown in a 77, two 74s and two 73s.
 
Most important of all, though, is the number of wins. Mickelson has two. Tiger has, uh, lets see ' two!
 
The two have played in the same tournament five times. Woods won the Buick Invitational while Mickelson finished T8; both reached the quarterfinals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play; Tiger won at Doral while Phil was T12; Phil finished T14 at The Players, Tiger T22; and Mickelson won the major, the Masters, while Woods finished T3.
 
Again, statistics are oftentimes meaningless when taken one-by-one. HOWEVER, taken on the whole, they often let a glimmer of light in on the participants. They do not show much of an over-all difference, though, in these two. Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, or Tiger and Phil they are Nos. 1 and 1A on the PGA TOUR this year.
 
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.