Mickelson Back in Action at Byron Nelson

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 EDS Byron Nelson ChampionshipIRVING, Texas - One thing Brett Wetterich treasured about his first PGA TOUR victory was the personal congratulation from tournament namesake Byron Nelson.
 
'Last year, sitting by him while I'm getting the trophy ... it's a special feeling,' Wetterich said. 'Just having him in your presence, it gives you the goose bumps.'
 
This year's winner won't get that privilege at the 18th green Sunday.
 
For the first time since Nelson's name became attached to the tournament in 1968, it will be played without him there.
 
'It just seems to be a slight somber feel about it,' Luke Donald said Wednesday. 'I walked past the 18th green and saw there was no position where he's going to sit, and it just seems a little bit different. ... I'm sure it will feel like it's missing something without Byron here.'
 
Nelson died of natural causes Sept. 26. He was 94.
 
The golfer known as 'Lord Byron' was the first to have a PGA TOUR event named after him. His presence helped make the tournament a popular stop for players, whom he greeted as they finished their rounds, and the biggest charity fundraiser on the PGA TOUR. The Nelson is expected this year to become the first to surpass $100 million in total donations to charities.
 
'He lived an amazingly full life,' Tom Lehman said. 'It was quite a life to celebrate. To see an empty chair will be sad, but it'll put a smile on your face thinking about Byron Nelson the man.'
 
The first Byron Nelson Championship without its namesake begins Thursday.
 
Only three of the top 13 players in the world ranking made it to Texas: Phil Mickelson (No. 4), Vijay Singh (No. 7) and Donald (No. 11). Mickelson and Singh are past Nelson champions and Donald has played 16 of his 18 rounds at the Nelson in the 60s.
 
'To be in this particular spot maybe isn't the best for the tournament,' Lehman said. 'I would not say it's an optimal week. But I feel pretty strongly that the legacy of his life and what they've started here will carry through.'
 
The Nelson is a month earlier on the schedule this year, now played before Wachovia and THE PLAYERS Championship. It also split the Texas two-step with the Colonial, which will be played in its traditional spot, May 24-27.
 
Top-ranked Tiger Woods, who made his Nelson debut as a high school kid in 1993 when Byron Nelson got a sponsor's invitation for him, skipped the tournament for the second year in a row. Woods won in 1997, his first time there as a pro, but hasn't played since 2005, when he missed the cut to end his record of 142 consecutive cuts.
 
Wetterich has two top-10 finishes this year, and is still looking for his second PGA TOUR victory. But he gets to find out what it's like to play as a defending champion.
 
'It feels weird because it's the first time that it's ever happened for me,' Wetterich said. 'I think you have to take it as a normal week and go out and do the same things you did last year and two weeks ago, three weeks ago, four weeks ago.'
 
Wetterich will open Thursday on the TPC Four Seasons Resort course, which starting next year will be the only course used for the Nelson. The tournament moved there in 1983, and since 1995, the Cottonwood Valley course across the street has been used with each golfer playing one of his first two rounds there.
 
After this year's tournament, there will be a multimillion dollar redesign on the TPC course that will affect every tee box, fairway, green and bunker on the course. Five holes will be lengthened and the green shared by holes Nos. 5 and 9 will be separated.
 
Cottonwood Valley is where Woods played his last Nelson round. That was also where Arron Oberholser shot a tournament-record 60 last year, missing a chance for 59 when his 15-foot birdie attempt on the 18th hole curled and settled about a foot from the cup.
 
Divots:
Mickelson missed the 7 a.m. tee time for his pro-am round Wednesday because of a flight cancellation while returning Tuesday night from a charity event in Arkansas. He got to the course Wednesday for lunch with the group he was supposed to play with, but didn't have a practice round. ... Three identical motorcycles built by Orange County Choppers were unveiled Wednesday. The tournament winner and sponsor EDS both get one, and the other will be auctioned online to benefit charity. The design of the choppers included 11 chrome wheel spokes that commemorate each of Byron Nelson's consecutive tournament victories in 1945. The Teutuls, the father and sons from OCC, rode the choppers to a spot by the No. 1 tee.
 
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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.