Live blog: Day 1 at the WM Phoenix Open

By Bailey MosierJanuary 29, 2015, 4:30 pm

(Editor's note: Grill Room is live from the WM Phoenix Open with a Day 1 running blog. All times local.)

4:57 p.m. That's a wrap for me from the 16th at TPC Scottsdale. #nofilter #wheresthebeveragegirl


4:48 p.m. They came, they saw, they went.


4:25 p.m. Mass exodus.


4:18 p.m. Tiger rolls in his par putt. More cheers for him than either Jordan Spieth or Patrick Reed when they made their birdie putts.

4:11 p.m. "Quiet, please. Quiet," the 16th hole announcer insists.

Tiger over the ball, backs off after someone yells. Entire crowd boos the lone screamer.

Tiger readdresses the ball. More disruptive screams cause him to back off the ball a second time.

Tiger again addresses the ball. Hits it to middle of the green.

4:10 p.m. After Patrick Reed tees off, Tiger tees his ball up.

4:08 p.m. A smiling Tiger Woods walks onto the tee to "Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!" chants.


4:06 p.m. In anticipation of Tiger coming to 16 tee, announcer says into the microphone, "No cameras and no cell phones." Immediately gets booed from the entire crowd.

Don't think they're going to obey.


3:59 p.m. Heading to the tee box to watch Tiger play the 16th. Updates when I return.

3:53 p.m. Morgan Hoffmann is a crowd favorite with this hat:


3:49 p.m. Tiger makes par at 14 and is now one hole away from the 16th. The crowd is ready. This is what thy've been waiting all day for.

3:25 p.m. On the TVs nearby, watch Tiger almost hole out for double eagle on the par-5 13th. Overheard: "He's back!" Back to 3 over, perhaps. But "back" is debatable.

3:21 p.m. Skies look gray and weather seems a bit suspect. Considering staying in the comfy (and covered) set off to the left side of the 16th green.


3:08 p.m. Overheard at the WMPO: "Is there even golf being played right now?" Nah, bro. Keep drinking.

2:59 p.m. The scenery is festive, indeed. Also, the sandwiches are yummy. See on the TVs around the set that Tiger Woods is having trouble at the 11th. If you want to see Tiger this week, I suggest you come out tomorrow. #justsayin

2:38 p.m. Back in the Golf Channel set area, computer charging. Going to go make the rounds and see what the "scenery" is like in these parts. At first glance ... festive.

2:25 p.m. It's that time again to go charge my computer so that I can make it back in time for Tiger Woods to come through. That is, after all, the man everyone has been waiting for. He's 10 groups out. Back to the Golf Central set on 16 again. I shall return.

2:10 p.m. Envious of the drunk guy behind me who, although no one appeared to bring him more beer, he at least has had some beer.


2:05 p.m. Drunk guy behind me breaks into song: "More beeeeer, more beer more beer more beer. More beeeeeer. More beer." 

No one appears with more beer.

1:52 p.m. Spectators do the wave. This is my attempt to capture it in photo form. A masterpiece, if I do say so.


1:43 p.m. Freddie Jacobson makes birdie at the party hole. The Grill Room approves.


1:40 p.m. Time for another Twitter question:

I'm pretty sure anything that is wet. Mostly people holding cans of beers, but the next time I get up from my seat I will investigate further. Stay tuned for this developing story.

1:33 p.m. Rain drops begin to fall from the sky. Most people seem unfazed. The girl with the computer in her lap is fazed.

1:32 p.m. Allenby makes bogey when he fails to get up and down from the bunker. Everything around me is just noise. Can't make out anything, specific, that anyone is saying.

1:26 p.m. As Robert Allenby is teeing off, lady to my left asks me what the real Robert Allenby story is. I tell her that Annabel Rolley, native Australian and host of "Lesson Tee Live," translated the whole thing in the most recent episode of Grill Room. Or, I told her I wasn't sure.

Allenby knocks it in the bunker short, right. Everyone boos, but not in any more exaggerated manner than the boos for everyone else.

1:22 p.m. I find my way back to my seat in the third row, behind the green in line with the pin. Ruben and friends say they missed me and very warmly welcome me back. They tell me I missed a lot of boos and the section to the right of me has been trying to entice the caddies to race.

1:13 p.m. I just read on @GCTigerTracker that Tiger is 4 over through 4. Uhm, that's not good. But, there is some good news. My computer battery is fully charged and I'm heading back into the crowd. From the Golf Channel set, I can see my buddy from earlier, Ruben, and see that the seat to his left is still vacant. A man of his word. Back soon.

1:00 p.m. No funny business allowed.


12:53 p.m. Line to get into the 16th is now around the corner. I asked a group near the front of the line how long they had been waiting, and they said about 20 minutes. I can't imagine why anyone who's up there and has a seat would give theirs up now. They've come so far. 


12:49 p.m. Just got back to the Golf Channel set on 16 to loud roars from the crowd. Is it really a surprise Russell Knox knocks it close? (Just go with it.)

12:34 p.m. As much as it pains me to leave the Golf Channel set and the hospitality area, I'm going to take to the grounds and see what the buzz is outside the 16th for a few. Shall return shortly.

12:26 p.m. I'm not hungry or anything.




12:17 p.m. Things are pretty tame at the 16th at the moment. Meanwhile at No. 1, Tiger Woods teed off 10 minutes ago. Spoke to spectators earlier in the stands, said they got there at 8:30 a.m. and were staying put all day waiting for Tiger to come through.

11:56 a.m. Brains and beauty. The Golf Central pre-game show is about to begin.


11:48 a.m. Time to answer a Twitter question. 

Explosive, it will be, indeed. But I think the hashtag you're looking for is #toothknockedout

11:35 a.m. I wonder if I can call in sick.




11:21 a.m. Crowd especially loud for the Carl Pettersson, Shawn Stefani, James Hahn grouping. The younger crowd must be rolling in with beers in hand (and in belly).


11:10 a.m. On the Golf Channel set, computer charging. This place isn't half bad.



10:45 a.m. You want the bad news or the good news first? Bad news it is. My computer battery is already running low. The good news? My buddy Ruben to my right is planning to stay put all day (until Tiger comes through, which won't be until much later this afternoon) and is going to save my seat. So I'll be back to bringing you action from the front row third row, computer battery fully charged, later this afternoon. For now, I'm off to the Golf Channel set on the 16th to get some charge.


10:33 a.m. First birdie I've seen since I got to the 16th about an hour ago drops from Brooks Koepka. Crowd is pleased.

10:25 a.m. First beer guy sighting. Gets the loudest cheers so far of the day.



10:21 a.m. Spectators around me ask if I'm working or "working." I am insulted! Appalled! And tell them that unfortunately, I'm working, no air quotes. But valid question. These are my kind of people.

10:02 a.m. Crowd breaks out into a "Sea ... Hawks" chant. No Pats fans answer. The cheer soon dies down.

9:50 a.m. A svelte and clean-cut Jason Dufner makes his way to the green. Sweet, older lady to my left says, "I think Jason Dufner cut his hair. He looks terrible. So different than before." Minutes later she also comments how she thinks his belly looks slimmer, too. She is correct on all accounts.

9:36 a.m. Crowd tame for Fowler and Mahan teeing off, but give a huge round of applause for the hometown kid man. All three hit the green and all three make pars.


9:32 a.m. Make my way to the 16th just in time to catch Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Phil Mickelson teeing off. Seats are already packed. I weasel my way into an empty seat in the third row in line with the pin.


9:27 a.m. Happy that I have a media badge and get to bypass this line, already starting to wind its way around the corner. If you're not here yet, you're already missing out.


9:20 a.m. My boss emailed me on Wednesday with the idea to sit at the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale and live blog all the action during the first round. I told him that was a great idea, and I accepted the task. Making my way to the 16th on Thursday morning, here are my initial thoughts:

Why are people awake right now?

It's 5 o'clock somewhere. Or, for those not working the Waste Managment Phoenix Open, time to have fun.


Getty Images

Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

Getty Images

Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

Getty Images

Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

“First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

“I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

“I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

“You never know,” she said.