Road to Augusta Starts at Doral

By Golf Channel NewsroomMarch 1, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Ford Championship at DoralIt can no longer be said that the PGA Tour season starts at Doral. But the road which winds northerly, up Magnolia Lane, and eventually into the joyous, two-sleeved comfort of a dowdy green jacket certainly begins in Miami, Fla.
 
The Ford Championship sparks the tours Florida Swing. Five tournaments and 623.52 miles later and the boys will be battling at the seasons first major.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has finished 2nd (2002) and T9 (1998) in two appearances at Doral.
This weeks event could deliver on what the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship failed to do: pit the worlds top-ranked players against one another down the stretch.
 
World No. 1 Vijay Singh is here, as are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen. Not to mention Match Play champion David Toms and Adam Scott and Mike Weir and Davis Love III. And then theres the European crew: Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Bernhard Langer, Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose.
 
In all, 11 of the top 12 on the Official World Golf Ranking will test their talents on the Blue Course at Doral Resort and Spa. Ernie Els, who won this event in 2002, is the lone exception. Hes in the field at the Dubai Desert Classic, where he will collect a hefty appearance fee.
 
While appearance fees are commonplace, and legal, on the European Tour, they are not on the PGA Tour. However, many of the world-class players have been lured to Doral thanks to lucrative corporate outings, where they will be handed six-figure fees to entertain Ford Motor Company executives on Monday and Tuesday.
 
Woods has green on his mind this week ' not money, but rather smoother putting surfaces.
 
I can tell you what, Woods said at the Match Play. I cant wait to putt on some good greens.
 
Woods is making just his third start at the Ford Championship, and his first since he finished runner-up to Els in 02.
 
Woods was noncommittal about appearing until his stay at La Costa was shortened in a second-round upset loss to Nick OHearn. This will give him at least three tournaments (Bay Hill and The Players Championship) to fine-tune his game before he vies for his first major title since the 2002 U.S. Open.
 
Now that the West Coast Swing has been swung, players are hoping the Sunshine State will live up to its name.
 
Rain reduced the Nissan Open to 36 holes, and then cancelled the first day of play at the Accenture.
 
The Ford Championship has never been played in less than 72 holes over its 43-year history. Last year, it needed 73 holes to determine a winner.
 
Craig Parry beat Scott Verplank on the first hole of sudden death, when he holed a 6-iron from 176 yards on the par-4 18th, which just happened to play as the toughest hole on tour a year ago.
 
Raymond Floyd is the only player to successfully defend his title, winning in 1980-81. However, several players have triumphed on multiple occassions.
 
Billy Casper, Doug Sanders, Jack Nicklaus, Mark McCumber and Steve Elkington have all won twice. Floyd, Andy Bean and Greg Norman have each won three times.
 
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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."

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    Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

    After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

    La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

    "Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

    The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

    "That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."