Mickelson Wins GHO for Second Straight Year

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2002, 4:00 pm
Cromwell, Conn. -- Phil Mickelson came from five strokes down in Sunday's final round to win the Greater Hartford Open by one shot over Davis Love III and third-round leader Jonathan Kaye. Mickelson, the winner of this event last year, became the first player in the 51-year history of the tournament to successfully defend his title.
Mickelson finished at 14-under-par 266 after spinning a wedge back to three feet to set up a final birdie at the 18th. He closed with a six-under 64 and notched the 21st victory of his PGA Tour career.
'To win this tournament the last two years is a cool feeling,' said the 32- year-old lefthander, who collected the $720,000 first prize for his second win of the season.
Mickelson talks about his win.
Mickelson, who captured the Bob Hope Classic in his first start of 2002, joined Tiger Woods as the only multiple winners on the PGA Tour this year.
Mickelson, clearly a crowd favorite last week when he finished second behind Woods in the U.S. Open, received the same strong support this Sunday as he made his way toward the amphitheater surrounding the 18th green at the TPC at River Highlands.
'There's nothing greater than the feeling walking up 18 and feeling the support from the crowd and the community and everyone who is involved with this tournament,' he said. 'To be able to experience that from a player's perspective is an incredible feeling.'
Love had an opportunity to tie Mickelson but missed an 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th and posted a 67. Kaye, bidding for his first win, also had a chance to force a playoff with a birdie at the last but badly pushed his 12-foot attempt to the right of the cup. He shot an even-par 70 to tie Love for second place at 13-under 267.
Scott Verplank, tied for the lead early on the back nine, made two bogeys on the way in and finished with a one-over 71. He was alone in fourth at 11- under.
Joel Edwards' 63 was the best round of the day and lifted him into a tie for fifth place with Jim Carter (68) at minus-10.
Mickelson began the day at eight-under and broke into double-digits under par with a 15-foot birdie at the second hole and a 12-footer at the fourth. He then tied Kaye and Verplank for the lead at 12-under by holing a sand wedge from over 100 yards for eagle at the par-four seventh.
He three-putted for bogey at the par-three eighth, however, horseshoeing out a par putt from 2 1/2 feet.
After bombing a drive of over 300 yards down the fairway at the 462-yard 10th, Mickelson hit a wedge to 15 feet for a birdie to return to 12-under. He got up and down to save par from over three green at 11, then came up one revolution short on a 25-foot birdie try at the 12th.
Mickelson's vaunted short game helped produce a birdie at the par-five 13th. His three-iron second shot wound up just right of the green and he chipped up to tap-in range to seize the lead at 13-under par.
Then Kaye, who was one-over for the day through 12 holes, got into the eagle action at the 13th when he spun his third shot with a sand wedge back into the hole to leap-frog Mickelson and move to minus-14.
Mickelson made a brilliant save at the 14th, where his drive found the left rough and his approach clipped a tree. His ball came to rest in a sandy downhill lie well short of the green but he managed to chip to within five feet to set up an important par.
At the short but tricky par-four 15th, Mickelson's tee shot with a three-wood ran through the green and down a slope behind it. Another skillful chip left him with a four-foot birdie.
He quickly went from tied for the lead at 14-under to leading outright when Kaye failed to save par from four feet at the 14th.
Mickelson tightened up the leaderboard after landing in a fairway bunker off the tee at the par-four 17th. His long shot from the sand went over the green, and he chipped to eight feet and missed the putt for a bogey five.
He made up for the poor drive at 17 with a monstrous poke of over 330 yards at the 444-yard 18th. Left with 110 yards in, Mickelson knocked his wedge approach to the rear of the green and it spun back past the edge of the cup. After successfully negotiating the remaining three feet for birdie, Mickelson headed to the putting green with his family to wait out the finish.
Kaye had chances to pick up shots down the stretch. He missed a six-foot birdie putt at the 15th and an uphill 10-footer at 16, then two-putted from long range to par the 17th.
Kaye didn't give himself much of a shot when he drove into the rough between bunkers right of the 18th fairway. Though he did very well to carry a seven- iron 195 yards to the back of the green, his putt to force extra holes never had a chance.
'I had plenty of opportunities,' said the 31-year-old Kaye, who finished second for the fourth time in his career. 'I just couldn't shake a putt in when I needed to. That was the difference.'
Love, whose year started off shaky with five missed cuts in his first 10 starts, posted his best finish of the season and his third top-five showing in the last six events.
'I'm making improvements,' Love said. 'Obviously, at the beginning of the year, I wasn't playing up to my standards. But I'm pretty happy with the state of my game.'
Full-Field Scores from The Canon Greater Hartford Open

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.


Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''