Nelson Attracts the Big Four

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 10, 2005, 4:00 pm
04 EDS Byron Nelson ClassicFor the second straight week the PGA Tours biggest names will tee it up in the same event. And this week, Ernie Els will join the action as well. The Byron Nelson Championship marks just the fourth time this year that Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Els and Phil Mickelson will play in the same field.
They will be joined by three other players in the top 10 in Retief Goosen, Chris DiMarco and the defending champion Sergio Garcia.
The star power in this field may help extend two current trends on the 2005 PGA Tour schedule: Big names cashing a winners check and events decided in a playoff.
Starting with Singh's victory over John Daly at the Shell Houston Open, the last three events have all gone into extra holes including last week's Wachovia Championship, where Singh was again a participant. Singh alone has been in three playoffs this year, winning twice (Wachovia and Houston) and falling short to Padraig Harrington at the Honda Classic in March.
So far in 05, seven of the 19 events have gone to extra holes, with all seven coming in the last 13 weeks. The record for most playoffs in a season is 16, which happened twice, back in 1988 and 91. Last year, 14 events came down to a playoff.
Which leads us back to the Byron Nelson Championship where last year was - you guessed it - decided in a playoff. In fact, only the U.S. Open and the Shell Houston Open have had more playoffs in their tournament history.
With Garcia defending his crown in Dallas just days after his tough loss at Quail Hollow, expect him to be in the mix come Sunday along with some other big guns:
The Big Four
Vijay Singh
His stats are almost as staggering as his determination to win ' he came from six back in the final round to claim his third title of the season in Charlotte. In addition to his three wins, the big Fijian also has racked up a pair of runner-up finishes, a third and two more top-5s. Hes first on the money list, first in the all around ranking, first in total birdies and eagles, and second in scoring average for the year. And when it comes to playoffs, Singh can boast of a very impressive 7-2 mark all-time. Oh, and dont forget he won this very tournament two years ago.
Tiger Woods
Ranked No. 1 in the world. Three PGA Tour wins in '05. Masters champion. A mind-boggling 142 straight cuts made. All without being able to find a fairway on a consistent basis. Throw in the fact that he now has a chip on his shoulder after being assessed a two-stroke penalty in Sunday's final round in Charlotte, and Tiger will be ready coming into Big D. Woods finished a shot out of the playoff last year and visited the winner's circle here back in 1997.
Ernie Els
New label is starting to become 'Best player to seemingly never to play in America.' But the fact is the Big Easy has played in six events on the PGA Tour this season. Started the season strong with a third, a second and a sixth in the Mercedes, Sony and Buick Invitational, respectively. A disappointing 47th place finish at the Masters has the critics wondering, but he too has three wins on the year just as Vijay, Tiger and Phil do - albeit they're European Tour wins. Els has played well here in the past with a victory back in 1995 and a tie for seventh last year.
Phil Mickelson
Completes the cycle of the Big Four that have won the Nelson with his win sandwiched between Ernie's and Tiger's back in1996. Also had a chance in 2000 but lost to eventual champion Jesper Parnevik in a playoff (there's that word again). Has had mixed results though in his past several appearances with a missed cut last year and a 44th place finish in '03.
The Great G's - Goosen and Garcia
Retief Goosen
Although the quiet one will play in the Byron Nelson for the first time in his career, he may benefit with all the talk surrounding the Big Four and then proceed with his usual fly under the radar stellar play. Had a solid Masters performance with a third place showing and is coming of a strong runner-up finish to Adam Scott in the Johnnie Walker Classic in China. With the U.S. Open just over a month away, look for the big South African to start ratcheting up his play in time for his title defense.
Sergio Garcia
The not so quiet one will be hard pressed to rebound from his disastrous collapse in Sunday's final round at the Wachovia Championship. But as defending champion here in Dallas, Garcia's pride will ultimately keep him on the right track. Its been feast or famine for Sergio at this event: He has missed cuts in 2002 and 03 to go along with last years title and a tie for eighth in '01.
A Solid Par 3
Nick Price
St. Nick, a two-time PGA Tour player of the year award winner back in the 90s, won his only title here in 1991. Although that was long ago, he has had a remarkable run in each of the past six years here, never finishing outside the top-15. Price was seventh last year and was runner-up to Vijay in '03. One of the games best ball strikers, this course and its conditions set up well for the Hall of Famer.
Robert Damron
Despite not really having anything to write home about thus far in his 2005 PGA Tour campaign, Damron might just find the mojo he needs as he arrives back in town for the Byron Nelson. His lone career PGA Tour win came in a 2001 playoff over Scott Verplank and then last year he was gunning to repeat the feat before bowing out in the playoff to Garcia. Familiar with the course, Damron has played in the Nelson every year since getting his PGA Tour card in 1997.
Jesper Parnevik
The match-maker extraordinaire has some history here at this tournament. Struggling of late without a top-30 finish in his last eight starts, the colorful Swede did in fact win the event back in the turn of the century. And yes, it happened to come in a playoff. That bodes well for Parnevik. As does the fact that four of the past five winners have been come from outside the U.S..
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    Watch: Tiger birdies 3 of 4, then goes OB

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 8:30 pm

    Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off in his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

    Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which he walked in.

    A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

    A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

    Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

    Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at the par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

    His momentum was slowed by his first bogey of the day at No. 9, the product of an errant drive and its ensuing complications. As a result, Woods made the turn 2 under on his round, 9 under for the week, and still five off the lead, like when he started the day.

    But Woods wouldn't wait long to make up for his mistake, immediately responding with another flagged iron and another birdie at No. 10.

    He continued his assault on Bay Hill's par-5s at the 12th, getting up and down from the sand for a birdie-4 that moved him to 11 under par, just two off the lead.

    And with this roll at 13 giving him his third birdie in four holes, the charge was officially on, with Woods just one back.

    Just when it looked like Woods was primed for a late run at his 80th PGA Tour victory, Woods stepped to the tee at the par-5 16th, where he had missed wide right three days in a row, and sniped his drive out of bounds into a backyard miles left.

    He made 4 on his second ball for a bogey-6 to drop back to 11 under, three behind.

    (More coming...)

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    Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

    By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

    Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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    McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

    McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    “I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

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    “I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

    This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

    A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

    McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

    “It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

    As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

    “It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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    Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

    By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

    She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

    Her confidence is high.

    “Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

    Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

    Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

    “One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

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    Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

    “I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

    Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

    “I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

    That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.