Players Hoping for Super Sunday

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 30, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 FBR OpenWith the Super Bowl being contested this Sunday, it means one thing: Phil Mickelson will most certainly be asked who his favorite is to win the game.
 
While Mickelson may or may not offer his opinion, it is also most certain that he would rather win the FBR Open than see Pittsburgh or Seattle win the Lombardi Trophy.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is looking for his third career FBR Open title.
Mickelson enters this weeks stop, the most rowdy scene of the PGA Tour season, as the defending champion. He shot 11-under 60 in the second round a year ago to earn a share of the 36-hole lead. He then added rounds of 66-68 to win by five over Scott McCarron and Kevin Na.
 
The win was his first of the 05 season, and the first of two in a row, as he went on to win at Pebble Beach the following week for a second straight Super Sunday.
 
Mickelson will be looking to become the first player since Johnny Miller in 1974-75 to successfully defend his title in this event. Arnold Palmer won three straight in 1961-63. Ben Hogan (1946-47), Jimmy Demaret (1949-50) and Lloyd Mangrum (1952-53) are also repeat winners.
 
After a lengthy layoff, this will be the left-handers third consecutive start (he will play four-in-a-row including next weeks AT&T Pro-Am). He finished tied for fifth in his season debut at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, and then tied for eighth in last weeks Buick Invitational.
 
Mickelson has twice before retained a title, doing so in Tucson in 1995-96 and in Hartford in 2001-02.
 
Hes the favorite to do it a third time, but here are five others who may well stand in his way:
 
Chris DiMarco
Its been four years since DiMarco won this event, his last on the PGA Tour. Yet he returns to Scottsdale a winner. DiMarco captured the European Tours Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in his last start two weeks ago. The 37-year-old is as confident as just about anyone in golf ' and that was before he ended a four-year worldwide winless streak. Hes hoping that his victory in the Middle East will translate to more wins in the U.S. He has a great track record in this event. In addition to his 2002 title, he finished runner-up in 2004 and tied for fifth in 2001. Sixteen of his last 18 rounds at the TPC of Scottsdale have been in the 60s.
 
Jesper Parnevik
Eight years ago, Parnevik lit his first victory cigar in a tour event, doing so in regards to his three-stroke triumph at what was then known as the Phoenix Open. He added a second tour victory in 1999, two more in 2000, and yet another in 2001. The well, however, has since been dry. Last year, he finished 109th on the money list with only two top-10s in 24 starts. Its early in 06, but things seem to be getting better. Parnevik shot 62-67 over the weekend to tie for second at the Bob Hope. He then tied for 10th at Torrey Pines. He has five top-20s in his last nine trips to Scottsdale.
 
Vijay Singh
Like the two aforementioned contenders, Singh is a past champion at this event, having first prevailed in 1995. Unlike the other two, however, he has never stopped winning. The 1995 Phoenix Open was Singhs second career tour victory. Hes since won 26 times, including this event in 2003. Singh has yet to win this season, but is off to a solid start. He lost to Stuart Appleby in a playoff at the Mercedes Championships and then finished sixth at the Sony Open. He was in The Gulf last week for the Qatar Masters, where he tied for 24th. He has played this event 11 times and has never missed a cut; though, he did withdraw after a first-round 74 in 1999. In his last four starts here, he has finished no worse than T11.
 
Lucas Glover
Glover is off to a very good start thus far this season. He finished sixth under trying conditions at the Mercedes. He then missed the cut at the Sony, but rebounded with a tie for 10th at the Bob Hope and a tied for fourth last week in San Diego. This will be his first appearance in this event.
 
Mark Calcavecchia
Calcavecchia is a horse for this course. He not only set the 72-hole tournament scoring record with his 28-under 256 total in 2001; he established a new tour scoring record which stood until Tommy Armour III won the 2003 Texas Open in just 254 strokes. Calcavecchia won this tournament in 1989 and 1992. He has nine career top-10 finishes in 19 Phoenix starts. He has a pair of top-20s in three events this season.
 
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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."