You Pick em - Tiger Phil or Vijay

By George WhiteAugust 23, 2005, 4:00 pm
So what we have here is three very good players who have won tournaments a total of 13 times this season. Which one is the best, according to the public perception, is predicated on who happened to win last.
This week that happens to be Tiger Woods. It could have been Phil Mickelson, of course, or Vijay Singh. Ill give you my first choice right here at the top ' Woods. But you see what I mean ' he won just last week, so the exploits of Tiger are firmly in the minds eye. Going back over the course of this season, though, he has been more consistent than the other two. And since he missed the cut back at the EDS Byron Nelson back in May, he hasnt finished worse than fourth in seven outings.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has regained his spot on top of the list of golf's elite.
There has never been a player in the history of the game who has been a better grinder than Tiger. Those of you who peek into this corner regularly know how I feel about this year versus Woods 2000 ' that year and Byron Nelsons 18-win year of 1945 are the two greatest seasons in history, in one mans opinion.
But let me say this ' the man is unbelievable when it comes down to making his strokes count to the ultimate. His putting is off sometimes, his driving is off sometimes, at times he doesnt hit his irons close to the pins ' but he is always, always in it the mix. He gets the maximum amount of pop out of every tournament. He, more than any golfer I can think of, has avoided more cuts with a birdie on the 18th hole. Like they used to say of Nicklaus, when he plays well, he wins easily. When he just plays so-so, he still wins more than his share. And when he plays poorly (for him), he still has a chance to win.
Woods has won five times this year. Tiger showed why he is a great grinder at his first victory this year, the Buick Invitational. He certainly didnt play exceptionally well the final 18 holes, in fact he hit a terrible iron shot at 18. Remember when he fanned the iron that just happened to squirt off way to the right? But he still won by three. Tiger just refused to let anyone near him.
At Doral, he defeated Mickelson in another battle of old-fashioned intestinal fortitude? He defeated Chris DiMarco in a Masters playoff when he was limping at the end ' but still clung to the green jacket like a nasty pit bull. He won the British Open when he was hitting on all cylinders. And he won Sunday when ' again ' he gritted his teeth and just willed the victory to come to him.
Singh, IMHO, is No. 2 here. Singh defeated Ernie Els in the second tournament of the year ' the Sony Open. He won playoffs in Houston over John Daly and at Wachovia over Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk. And he won at the Buick Open when he had to overcome a hard-charging Woods, among others.
Mickelson is in my No. 3 spot, simply because he hasnt been as consistent as Woods or Singh. He won at Phoenix and Pebble Beach, beat Arjun Atwal, Rich Beem, Jose Maria Olazabal and Brandt Jobe in a marathon at the BellSouth, and then broke out of a clutch of players to win the PGA with a brilliant pitch at the final hole.
To say that Mickelson has not had as excellent a season as Tiger and Vijay is certainly not to say that he has had a poor season. It just hasnt been as great a year as the other two.
Woods has been incredibly consistent in the 17 events he has played. Five wins, three seconds and two thirds, 11 times in the top 10. And, he is the leading money winner.
Singh, as usual, has been the workhorse of the three. Hes played in 24 events, and finished in the top 25 an impressive 21 times. He has four wins, two seconds and three thirds.
Mickelson has also won four times, that in 18 tournaments. But its either been a W or nothing, it seems. He had the second-place finish to Woods at Doral, but his next-highest non-winning finish is a T7 at Wachovia.
Dont read this to mean he hasnt played spectacular golf in streaks this year, though. He had a 60 in Phoenix, a 62 in the first round at Spyglass - the hardlest course in the Pebble Beach rotation - and 64s at the Bob Hope and Doral. Hes trying to learn a little strategy and a little different short game from Rick Smith and Dave Pelz. At 35, he has changed much of his game since he was in his 20s. And in his 20s he was still good enough to win 13 times.
There are still 12 tournaments remaining in this year, and you want to bet that the win totals of these three doesnt bulge even further? They have been the three bright spots in an unusually bright year. Players from around the world have emulated Singh and won in the U.S. But Woods, Singh and Mickelson have been something special. Theyre the top of the pyramid, and then you have the pyramid.
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Mickelson 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 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.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. 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.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

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Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”