Mickelson backs up early optimism with opening 69

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 29, 2016, 1:22 am

SAN DIEGO – Every year on the West Coast, Phil Mickelson strikes an optimistic tone, talking up a new piece of equipment or swing tip that will elevate his game to another level.

This time, he actually has the results to back up the hype.

A week after tying for third in Palm Springs, Mickelson shook off an early double bogey Thursday and birdied four of his last six holes for a 3-under 69 on Torrey Pines’ South Course. A 27-foot birdie on the last gave Lefty his best round on the South in five years, and just his third opening round in the 60s since 2004.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” he said afterward.

And that hasn’t always been the case the last few years. Winless since his surprising Open title in 2013 – when he returned to No. 2 in the world – Mickelson had grown tired of spraying the ball all over the map and relying on his otherworldly short game to score.

Last season, he ranked outside the top 140 on Tour in ball-striking, his world ranking had plummeted outside the top 30, and in November he decided it was time for a new direction, parting ways with legendary swing coach Butch Harmon.

The biggest change in Mickelson’s game under new coach Andrew Getson, at least through five competitive rounds, is with the driver.

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Getting his swing on plane was the first step, and now he says it seems “very easy off the tee” because he isn’t trying to square up the face with his hands. He can feel cut shots and draws, similar to how he swings with his irons. Last week in the desert, he led the field in strokes gained-tee to green and didn’t record a bogey on the weekend for the first time in his PGA Tour career. 

Still, he said that his swing was still a week away from where he wanted it. On Thursday, he was asked whether, after a week, his swing was where he hoped it would be.

“It is,” he said. “That just puts more pressure on me, I shouldn’t say that, but it is. It doesn’t mean that win or lose is the definition of success or failure. It means that I’m starting to swing the way I want to, the way I have intended to for months, and I’m starting to hit shots again like I used to.

“I don’t know when the results will come, very possibly this week, or it could come later, but I feel like the swing, the shot-making, the game is finally where I want it.”

The numbers weren’t eye-opening Thursday – in fact, he missed more than half of the fairways on the South (six of 14) – but he got better as the round progressed, leading to a two-putt birdie on No. 13 and 5-foot birdies on 14 and 15. In all, he made six birdies on the South Course, which averaged 73.36 and yielded only three of the top 14 scores on the leaderboard.

Afterward, Mickelson raved about his “patience,” a word rarely associated with the unpredictable star.

This is a new Phil, indeed.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.