Tiger Phil Headline Buick Field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 Buick InvitationalThis weeks Buick Invitational will not have Vijay Singh, nor will it showcase Ernie Els, nor will it feature Retief Goosen.
 
You would think that the absence of three of the top 5 players in the world would invariably better the winning odds for most everyone else in the field of 156.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has won two of the last three Buick Invitationals.
But it really doesnt, because as far as the field is concerned, its the other two players from the leading five who greatly decrease those winning odds.
 
Those other two, of course, are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
 
Singh, Els and Goosen have combined to have little success in limited opportunities at Torrey Pines. Singh has played the tournament four times and is without a top-10. Els tied for sixth in his debut a year ago. And Goosen has never before made the trip to La Jolla, Calif.
 
On the other hand, Woods has eight top-10s in eight Buick Invitational starts, including seven top-5s and three victories. Mickelson also has three wins and seven top-5s in 13 appearances as a professional.
 
The two have combined to win five of the last seven editions.
 
This will mark the season debut for Woods. He blew off the Mercedes Championships in order to extend his period of rest following a hectic off-season. Hes the defending champion, having won by three strokes over Luke Donald, Charles Howell III and Tom Lehman a year ago.
 
Mickelson made his first tour start in three months at last weeks Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and tied for fifth in a tournament that he won in 2002 and 2004.
 
To say that these two are the favorites this week is an understatement. Instead, here are five other players capable of breaking the Woods-Mickelson monopoly.
 
Luke Donald
Donald has finished runner-up in this event each of the past two years. In 2004, he and Chris Riley lost in a three-way playoff to John Daly. He then shared the 54-hole lead last year, before closing in 1-over 73 and again being relegated to second place. He also finished tied for seventh here in 03 and tied for 18th in 02. This will mark Donalds first event of the year ' on either the PGA or European tours. That could hinder his quest for the gold. In each his two silver medal campaigns, he had previously competed in the Sony Open, and had both times knocked off the winter rust by finishing in the top 20. Thats the bad news. The good news: he won his most recent Stateside start, the unofficial Target World Challenge in December. Donald shot 8-under 64 in the final round to turn a six-stroke deficit into a two-stroke victory.
 
Pat Perez
Pat Perez
Pat Perez earned his best Buick Invitational result last year in a tie for sixth.
Perez was born in Phoenix, Ariz., went to school at Arizona State and currently resides in Scottsdale. But he calls this place home. He won the 1993 Junior World title at Torrey Pines, beating Woods by eight strokes. He went to Torrey Pines High School and worked as a kid in the cart barn at the course. His father even works as a starter at the Buick tournament. He knows the North and South courses better than most everyone else in the field, but its taken him a while to turn his knowledge into an advantage. He missed the cut in two of his first three Invitational appearances and tied for 50th in the other, saying the pressure of playing at home was too much. He must have learned to deal with the stress, however, as he tied for sixth last year. He opened last weeks Bob Hope with a 12-under 60, but somehow fell to 73rd by week's end.
 
Charles Howell III
Howell has only played in this event three times, but has a pair of top-10s. He tied for seventh in his 2003 debut and then was a part of the logjam for second last year. Howell entered the final round a year ago just one off the lead, and though he closed in 72, he had a chance to win up until the final hole. His 95-yard approach shot on the 72nd hole ' his third on the par-5 18th ' appeared to have gone in the hole for an eagle, but improbably caromed out of the cup and into the water, leading to a bogey. Howell tied for 53rd in his first start of the season at the Sony Open.
 
Bubba Watson
Before the 2002 tournament, the host South Course, which is contested three of the four rounds, was given a $3.2 million Reese Jones facelift. The layout was bolstered to more than 7,500 yards. And, fittingly enough, its last three champions ' Woods in 2003 and 05; Daly in 2004 ' have been bombers. That means Big Bubba should have an even greater advantage this week. Bubba Watson is averaging over 336 yards off the tee. Watson finished fourth in his first event as a tour rookie two weeks ago at Waialae County Club. Hes already about half way to retaining his card for next season. Also keep an eye on Charley Hoffman. Hes second on tour in distance at 322 yards per pop, and, being a San Diego native, he has the all-important California Connection (see below).
 
Arron Oberholser
Just because the big boys have a big advantage on the South Course, the little guys cant be counted out. For example: Jose Maria Olazabal. Right after the venue received official Monster status, Olazabal stepped in a promptly won the 2002 tournament over J.L. Lewis and Mark OMeara ' neither of whom is noted as a long driver. Arron Oberholser ranked 145th in driving distance last year, but was inside the top 50 in driving accuracy and greens hit in regulation. He also has the California Connection in his favor. This event has been very kind to its native sons recently, with 10 of the last 14 champions having been born in the Golden State. Oberholser was born in San Luis Obispo and has two top-10s over the last three years in at Torrey Pines.
 
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."