Wasted West Coast

By Mercer BaggsMarch 1, 2010, 12:24 am

Phil Mickelson

PHIL-LING EMPTY: Phil Mickelson bogeyed three of his first six holes Saturday to fall out of contention at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. A Sunday 67 netted him a tie for 24th. Mickelson finished the first two months of the year with just one top-10 in four starts, during a period of time in which he usually has great success. In his 18 years on the PGA Tour, Mickelson has reached the Southern Swing winless only four times.

BackspinIt's going to take a lot for Mickleson to NOT be the favorite at Augusta, but he's doing his best to make that happen. Of course, as soon as we start casting doubts and focusing on other players, Mickelson will start winning again. Trying to figure out this man is harder than trying to comprehend why some people think Jay Leno is funny.

Hunter Mahan
HUNTER AND THE PREY:  Hunter Mahan had four birdies, an eagle and no bogeys for a final-round 65 and a one-stroke victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He began Sunday four shots off the lead, but rallied for his second career PGA Tour victory and first in nearly three years. Mahan edged Tour rookie Rickie Fowler, who missed a 20-footer to force a playoff on the final hole of regulation.

BackspinMahan is one of only a handful of players leaving Phoenix happy. Aside from the aforementioned Mickelson, there was: Camilo Villegas, who opened in 62 and finished T-8; Y.E. Yang, who was 6 under on the back nine Sunday and leading the tournament before yanking one into the water on 17; Anthony Kim, who was one off the 36-hole lead, but shot 76 in Round 3 and tied for 24th; and Brandt Snedeker, the 54-hole co-leader who finished bogey-double bogey-double bogey for a 7-over 78 and a tie for 43rd.

Ai Miyazato

Ai Miyazato won the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore to become the first player since Marilynn Smith in 1966 to win the first two tournaments of the LPGA season. Miyazato, who also won in Thailand, closed in 3-under 69 for a two-stroke triumph over Cristie Kerr.
It was Miyazato's third career LPGA win, all three of which have come outside of the U.S. [she won the Evian Masters in France last year]. On the PGA Tour this might be a problem, but on the LPGA – aside from the majors – this isn't much of a concern. The ladies have 26 official tournaments in 2010; 12 of them are contested outside of the States. Miyazato will have plenty of time to celebrate her early success, as the LPGA doesn't return to action until March 25 – in California.
Rosie Jones

FEELING ALL ROSIE: Rosie Jones was named the 2011 U.S. Solheim Cup captain. The 50-year-old, 13-time LPGA winner was a member of seven Solheim Cup teams. She was 11-9-2 with a 3-3-1 singles record. The 2011 matches will be contested Sept. 23-25 at Killeen Castle in County Meath, Ireland.

BackspinSo who's up for consideration the next time the matches are staged in the U.S., in 2013? Just Dottie Pepper, Juli Inkster and Meg Mallon. Pepper thinks she has no shot due to her infamous 'choking freaking dogs' comment regarding the U.S. team in 2007. She's could be right, but if so that's a shame. Pepper is more well-known for her Solheim spirit than any of her major wins. She deserves to lead a team.

Tiger Woods

NO ADE TO OFFER: Gatorade announced Friday that they were ending their endorsement deal with Tiger Woods. Nike, on the other hand, said they were sticking by Woods, while Procter & Gamble, parent company of Gillette, said they will continue to keep him out of their commericials for the time being

BackspinThat's now three major sponsors who have dropped Woods in the wake of his scandal [Accenture, AT&T]. Apparently, the people at Gatorade weren't overly impressed by his mea culpa the week prior. Guess they didn't have room in their hearts to one day believe in him again.    
John Daly

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: John Daly is set to endorse Slix Closer boxer briefs. ... Laura Davies won the New Zealand Women's Open for her 73rd career worldwide win. ... Fran Quinn won the Nationwide Tour's Panama Claro Championship ... Former PGA Tour caddie Greg Rita died Saturday night on his 54th birthday.
Things I hope to never see: a horse's head in my bed; the IRS at my door; John Daly in his underwear. ... Somebody put this lady in the World Golf Hall of Fame, please. ... Quinn earned his PGA Tour card last year by finishing 25th on the Nationwide Tour's money list. He couldn't get into the field at Phoenix, so he dropped down a level and picked up an extra $108,000. ... Rita, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007, caddied for Curtis Strange during his back-to-back U.S. Open titles and for Daly during his 1995 Open Championship win. He is survived by his wife, Kelley, and their 4-year-old son, Nicolas.

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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”