Mills Wins MTS Classic

By Marty HenwoodJuly 13, 2003, 4:00 pm
Canadian Tour-LargeWINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Mother Nature threw everything she could at Pine Ridge GC Sunday, but she couldnt prevent Jon Mills from securing his first Canadian Tour title at the MTS Classic.
 
The 25-year-old Oshawa native came in with a final round even-par 71 for a four-day total of 9-under 275, three shots clear of Bryan DeCorso of Guelph, ON. Rookie Lee Williamson finished four shots off the pace, while Anders Hultman and Mark Johnson came in at 4-under 280.
 
Not only did those near the top of the leaderboard have to wait out a storm delay for over an hour before teeing off, but once play resumed, gusting winds that reached 60 km/h swirled throughout the 6,522 yard layout for the rest of the afternoon. Scores skyrocketed and birdies were at a premium, but Mills, who began the day with a one-shot lead on McMillan and Chris Wisler, tamed the conditions to take home a $24,000 payday.
 
After Wisler, playing in the group in front, went birdie-eagle on his first two holes to take a one shot lead, Mills chipped in for eagle on the par-5 second hole and never looked back. He led by three at the turn and cruised to his first pro win on the back side. McMillan and Wisler werent able to keep pace once the course began baring its teeth.
 
Its a great feeling being able to deal with those conditions, with so much on the line, said a relieved Mills. We were backing off shots all day long because of the wind, and you could only attack the course when you had a chance.
 
Just six of the 73 players that made the cut managed to break par Sunday.
 
With a large a boisterous gallery behind him, McMillan stayed neck-and-neck with Mills before a double bogey on the par-4 eighth left him playing catch-up the rest of the way. McMillan was the last amateur to win a Tour event when he took honours at the 1996 Xerox Manitoba Open, and finished second to Ben Ferguson here in 2000. Twenty-four hours after getting himself back in the tournament with a blistering 65 in Round 3, McMillan wasnt able to turn on the jets Sunday. He drained a 50-foot bomb for birdie on the sixth that sent a thundering roar throughout Pine Ridge, but the double on eight put him in a hole and he never recovered.
 
I was right in the tournament until number eight, and that cost me a lot of momentum, admitted the three-time Tour champion. I hit a lot of shots today that didnt work out, but thats golf. Jon was so solid today, and he deserves to be where he is right now. If we could have put some heat on him early, maybe things could have been different. But this looks good on him.
 
McMillan joined the appreciative crowd in an animated scenario on the final green. After Mills left an eight-foot par putt teetering on the lip of the cup, the packed gallery and McMillan urged the wind to howl just one more time while Mills jokingly willed the ball to fall in the hole. He settled for bogey, but the outcome was no longer in doubt.
 
As an amateur, Mills enjoyed a memorable season in 2001, winding up sixth at the NCAA National Championship and peaking at number-14 in the GolfWeek magazine amateur rankings. The former Kent State University star also helped Canada to the Four Nations Cup crown two years ago. After securing a Canadian Tour card in the fall of 2001, Mills advanced to the final stage of PGA Tour Qualifying three months later and earned a Nationwide Tour card for 2002. He struggled during his first year on that circuit and returned north for this season. On Sunday, Mills was asked to compare his amateur success with his first professional title.
 
Wow, this is such a great feeling, its the best thing I have done in golf. The Four Nations team, the NCAA'they were great experiences, but this tops it all. I talked to my family and my wife (Megan) on the phone last night, and I know they were following on the computer today. They were as excited as I was- Ill be phoning them as soon as I am done here.
 
Mills admitted to suffering from a case of the nerves Saturday afternoon, when he struggled coming in and saw his lead shrink from four shots to one. After the third round, he said he would regroup Sunday and he was true to his word. While the overflowing gallery for the most part was pro-McMillan, Mills was impressed with the cheers that rang out for both players as they made their way around the course.
 
That crowd was fantastic, even if I was the bad guy, he laughed. I didnt want to get into match-play with him, and I was able to avoid that. I noticed how big a cheer got on the first tee, but they cheered for both of us all day. He was the hometown guy, but it was a great crowd.
 
NOTES: The toughest hole at Pine Ridge, the 231-yard, par-3 ninth, took on its toll on Tour players once again this week. Playing uphill to a domed green, there have been ten holes-in-one on the hole since 1912. The final tally through 72 holes this week: 16 birdies, 185 bogeys, 15 double bogeys and one other.Mills knocked his tee shot on nine to the back fringe Sunday before two-putting for parIt was the first time since McMillans victory in 96 that a Canadian-born player has won in WinnipegThere have been five first time winners in the first six Canadians Tour events of 2003. Only Derek Gillespie, who won the Corona Ixtapa Classic in Mexico, had hoisted championship hardware prior to this season.
 

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.


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    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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    Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

    “That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

    So was Woods.

    DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

    “His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

    Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

    “He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told PGATour.com afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.


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    “The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

    Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

    “Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told ESPN.com, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

    “Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

    Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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    With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”


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    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.