Tiger Phil Back for More at Doral

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 27, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 Ford Championship at DoralThe 2005 Ford Championship was one of those rare non-major tournaments that is easily recalled the following year. Thats because it is one of those rare tournaments ' major or otherwise ' that featured two of the top 4 players in the world going head-to-head for the title.
 
As the PGA Tour swung over to Florida, it did so with plenty of buzz about the sports Big 4. Phil Mickelson had already won twice, while Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh each had one win. Ernie Els had come close to victory at the Mercedes Championships and Sony Open, finishing in the top 3 in both events.
 
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson
Woods and Mickelson battled each other step-for-step through the final round in '05.
The week of the Ford Championship, however, would transform that buzz into a deafening noise (Els won the same week at the European Tours Dubai Desert Classic).
 
Woods and Mickelson, the No. 2 and 4 players in the world, respectively, were paired together in the final round at Doral. Mickelson held a two-stroke lead over Woods with 18 holes to play, with Woods four clear of third place.
 
Adding to the intrigue was the fact that the two ' never good friends ' were a complete bust as partners in the previous years Ryder Cup, going 0-2.
 
It was a true showdown; and proved to be a true shootout.
 
Woods cut his deficit to one by the turn, shooting 3-under 33 on the front side to Mickelsons 2-under 34. He then evened the match with a birdie at the par-5 10th.
 
Woods took the lead with an eagle at the par-5 12th, but Mickelson responded with birdies on 13 and 14 to again create a tie. Both men bogeyed the 16th, leaving the two at 23 under with two holes to play.
 
On the par-4 17th, Woods made a 28-foot putt for birdie to take the lead, and then watched as Mickelsons birdie chip on the 72nd hole lipped out. Tigers 3-foot par save on the final hole sealed an impressive and entertaining one-stroke victory.
 
The Blue Monster has been host to one of the more memorable regular tournaments each of the last four years. In 2002, Els held a commanding lead through three rounds at Doral and then had to hold off a hard-charging Woods on Sunday.
 
The following year, Scott Hoch defeated Jim Furyk in a playoff that was carried over to Monday when Hoch decided that it was too dark to finish it on Sunday. And two years ago, Craig Parry holed a 6-iron from 176 yards to shock Scott Verplank in sudden death.
 
This is Fords final year as tournament sponsor. Next year, the event will be among the World Golf Championship events and will take the current spot of The Players Championship on the PGA Tours FedEx Cup schedule.
 
Even without WGC status this year, Doral will again play host to a top-notch field, as the top seven players in the world are scheduled to compete.
 
Of course, Woods and Mickelson are the favorites, but here are five more players that could give them a run come late Sunday afternoon:
 
Ernie Els
Els usually wins around this time of year; though, it usually comes on the European Tour. Els hasnt competed in this event since his 2002 victory because hes been collecting appearance fees and first-place checks in the Middle East. This will be Els third consecutive PGA Tour start. He tied for 23rd at the Nissan Open and then was ousted in the first round of last weeks WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. In addition to his triumph his last time around Doral, he also has a tie for third in 1999.
 
Jim Furyk
Woods and Mickelson may have been the headliners at last years Ford Championship, but there were plenty of notable names among the supporting cast. Vijay Singh, David Toms, Jose Maria Olazabal, Retief Goosen and Furyk all finished inside the top 10. For Furyk, it was his fourth top-10 finish in his last five starts at Doral. He lost to Hoch in the 2003 playoff, won the event in 2000, and tied for ninth in 1998. Like Els, he also exited early from La Costa, which means he should be well rested and ready to compete again. He has finished in the top 30 in all four of his stroke-play events this year, including a third-place showing at the Mercedes and a tie for seventh at the Sony.
 
Zach Johnson
Johnson is the man who gave Furyk some extra time off last week, knocking him out in the first round of the Match Play. Johnson, who is still in search of his second tour title, received a huge confidence boost at La Costa. He made it to the semi-finals before losing to Davis Love III but rebounded with a 1-up win over Tom Lehman in the consolation match. Johnson missed the cut in his Ford debut in 2004, but rebounded with a tie for third a year ago, shooting 64-67 over the weekend.
 
J.B. Holmes
Woods and Mickelson overpowered the Monster last year, shooting 24 and 23 under, respectively. Thats just what Holmes would like to do this time around. Holmes dominated the competition ' and the course ' down the stretch in his FBR Open victory. He was supposed to play alongside Woods in the third round of the Nissan, but Woods withdrew due to illness and left both Holmes and fans disappointed. This will be his first start on the par-72, 7,266-yard layout.
 
Mark Calcavecchia
If the Ford becomes another shootout, then Calcavecchia may have enough bullets to survive. Calc has a tendency to go low at times, as evidenced by his 28-under showing in Phoenix in 2001. He hasnt posted any really low numbers thus far this year, but he has made the cut in each of his first four tournaments. He has played this event 23 times, and has five top-10s compared to only three missed cuts. His best showing came in a playoff loss to Greg Norman in 1990. He tied for 26th last year and tied for ninth in 2004.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.