Gogel and Pebble A Match Made in Heaven

By Kelly TilghmanFebruary 6, 2002, 5:00 pm
One would think after his painful loss at the 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Matt Gogel would never want to see the back nine at Pebble again. Thankfully that was far from the case. Gogel has a relentless passion for this heavenly layout. That passion is the very reason he captured the title in 2002.
When you lead a tour event by seven shots with seven holes to play, in almost every case you are a lock to win. That wasnt the situation two years ago when Tiger Woods stole a dream from PGA Tour rookie Matt Gogel. It was one of the more disturbing Sunday scenes in the history of our beloved game, but this young man from Kansas held his head high and listened to the profound words of the worlds No. 1- ranked player just after missing his putt to force a playoff on the 18th green: Be proud.

One year later, a slightly less wet-behind-the-ears Gogel surprisingly made his way to the top of the AT&T leaderboard for the second straight season, thanks to a second round 62 at Spyglass Hill. His mere presence in the lead captured the attention of anyone who witnessed Y2Ks debacle.
However, the question begged, Would he be able to oust the demons lurking from Tigers assault the year before? It only took one day for that answer to surface. A third-round 81 at Poppy Hills instantly erased Gogels chances of victory and perhaps any trace of confidence when holding a lead.
Outside of a few impressive finishes at random PGA Tour events, Pebble is the only place where Gogel has ever scared a win. Surely after his second nightmare came to fruition in 2001, this two-year veteran would harbor a serious grudge against this venue and this tournament. Wouldnt he?
A very smart man once posed this question, What do a hero and a coward have in common? The answer - fear. The only way to overcome a fear is to face it time and time again until it dissipates. Matt Gogel made a concerted effort to continue his rocky affair with this breathtaking golf course by playing it as often as he could.
Later that year, Gogel was invited to play in the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational where he tied for 10th. It was there that a friend, a connected friend, asked him back to play whenever he had the chance. Gogel anxiously took him up on the invitation and brought 15 of his buddies out for the time of their lives, just two weeks before the 2002 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Gogel was facing his fears. He loved his venue and, thanks to his perseverance, learned how to get along with it.

Just a few days ago, one of the best stories in golf began to take shape. For the third consecutive year, Matt Gogel staged a charge at Pebble Beach. As this now three-year veteran, husband and father of a brand new baby girl stood over a 15-foot putt at the par-5 18th that would eventually win the tournament, he said to caddy, Ive made this putt a hundred times. Why cant I make it now? As the old saying goes, the rest is history.

Matt Gogel is now a PGA Tour winner and an example for all who want to call themselves that very same thing. His love affair at Pebble Beach continues and he joins a beautiful list of champions.
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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.


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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."

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."

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.