Hanging with Tiger Phil and Geoff

By Mercer BaggsAugust 17, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill. -- Around 8:10 a.m. local time Thursday, Chris DiMarco, Michael Campbell and Lee Westwood began their opening round in the 88th PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club.
There were close to a hundred people on hand to watch them, which was pretty good considering the time, the fact that this wasnt exactly a marquee grouping, and that the 10th hole is actually located in Wisconsin.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson had a few conversations Thursday.
After they all teed off, about one of those 100 continued with them down the fairway.
Everyone else was waiting for the 8:30 group. The one with British Open champion Tiger Woods, Masters champion Phil Mickelson and U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy.
By the time the three showed up, the crowd had more than doubled. There were a solid number of fans on hand to see Mickelson and Ogilvy birdie the hole, and watch Woods make bogey.
But, given the hype surrounding this particular threesome, it wasnt quite what was anticipated.
'There was nobody out there,' Mickelson said. 'It was nice and quiet.'
I think most of them got lost, couldnt find No. 10, cracked Woods. Its way the hell out there.
He aint lying. Captain Kirks never traveled that far.
Amy Mickelson was out there, with periscope in hand. She was joined by a few others, including Phils swing instructor, Rick Smith.
I spotted Tigers wife, Elin, just after the group had teed off on 15. I didnt see my next shot until they teed off on 16.
As the round progressed, the number of people increased, with probably a thousand or so watching them on each hole ' and that was just inside the ropes.
Actually, there were around 75-100 ' including media, tournament officials and security ' inside the ropes, which is a ridiculous amount of people. Its the largest gathering Ive ever been a part of, and, according to a couple of other writers, it was the biggest group they could recall since Annika Sorenstam played in the 2003 Colonial.
I heard the people in the gallery say Jesus Christ so much when we all walked past them that I thought the Lord Himself was following the group.
For the first three or four holes, I wondered who was guarding the media center. Somebody could have picked it up and run away with it, joked Ogilvy, who had his ball almost stepped on a couple of times by photographers and reporters.
Ducking in and out of the ropes throughout the day, I was surprised to find that the crowd actually seemed a little subdued over the first few holes.
Perhaps it was because of the early a.m. start, or maybe because of the starting locations proximity to the clubhouse, but the fans were rather reserved.
It picked up a little at the par-4 12th, when Ogilvy and Woods each hit approach shots inside of 5 feet, and it got a little louder on each hole, with each good shot thereafter.
But it wasnt over-the-top. It wasnt a raucous scene. If anything, it was appropriate and respectful. The fans did a great job of being a part of the show, not the show itself. They reacted the way they should have, when they should have.
Once they made the turn, though, the crowd multiplied like Gremlins.
The back nine was little bit different, said Woods. I think most of them waited for us to come around and took the lazier approach.
With beer sales having started at 7:45, and with the increase in temperature, the gallery became more vocal.
Yet, unlike in the final round of the Open Championship, when cell phone cameras clicked incessantly, there werent many distractions. The only time Tiger had to back away from a shot was when a kid dropped his water bottle as he was preparing to hit his tee shot on the third hole.
Tigers caddie, Steve Williams, glared in the direction of the offender, but somehow managed to restrain himself from pummeling the boy.
As for the crowd's allegiance, Woods received more applause than the other two when his name was announced on the first tee. But there were more 'Go Phil's throughout the course of the day than there were 'Go Tiger's.
'And one 'Go Joe,'' said Ogilvy, who still gets confused by some fans for PGA TOUR player Joe Ogilvie. 'I felt right at home with that.'
At least that fan kind of knew who he was. Before starting his round, a woman asked her husband, 'Who's the guy in the green?'
That would be your reigning U.S. Open champion, ma'am.
Geoff Ogilvy held his own against the top 2 players in the world in round 1.
Ogilvy, the major champion, did manage to get a proper mention here and there, and there was even an Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! shout from one of his countrymen after he stuffed his approach shot at 12.
I didnt have the amount of fans that they had, Ogilvy said, But I had a few legitimate fans out there.
While the number of patrons increased after the first nine, the number of working media decreased dramatically inside the ropes, which can be attributed to two things. One, it was lunch time. And a true member of the press never misses a free meal. Two, we were headed away from the clubhouse, back into the nether regions.
Though not hungry, I, being a summa cum laude graduate, was somehow not smart enough to figure out the latter.
Throughout the day, there was very little interaction between the three players. They all shook hands underneath a tent before the start of the round, and that was about it until the end. On the opening tee, Woods stood on the right side, while Mickelson hovered about on the left ' much like when they were Ryder Cup partners a few years ago.
When Tiger and Phil did speak, they talked about schedule, Ryder Cup, just some stuff we have coming up, according to Mickelson.
But that was to be expected. Woods and Mickelson said as much in their respective pre-tournament press conferences.
This is a major championship, and these three are here to compete and win, not ham it up and share stories. Tiger talked as infrequently to Ogilvy as he did to Mickelson. Even on the 12th tee, which crisscrosses the 15th tee, Woods barely acknowledged Stewart Cink as he walked by and said something to him.
There were no outward signs of hostility, no ill will, no gamesmanship.
On the whole, they all played well, but not overly so, each shooting a modest 3-under-par 69. 'We all played OK,' said Mickelson. 'We all left some shots out there, but we all put ourselves in good position heading into the next three rounds.'
Woods had the best shot of the day when he nearly jarred a 3-iron with his second shot on the par-5 fifth. On the same hole, Mickelson made a phenomenal escape from the left trees, nearly advancing his second shot through a narrow path onto the green.
That was something, Ogilvy said in compliment of Mickelsons shot. I never would have tried that. Phil chooses clubs in a way that I cant see. But he has the ability to see things differently than I do.
When they all tapped in for par on the ninth green, the three shook hands with one another, and with each others caddies. Tiger looked at Phil and said simply, Good round; nice playing.
They then piled into vans that shuttled them back towards the clubhouse to sign their scorecards.
It was at that point that I realized that I was one of three reporters still around. After hanging with Tiger, Phil and Geoff all day, they had abandoned me. There was no media shuttle. And there was no Scotty to beam me back in.
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    Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

    Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

    One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

    Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

    Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

    Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

    He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

    ''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

    ''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

    ''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

    ''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

    Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

    ''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

    ''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

    Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''

    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.