TOUR Notes Mickelson King of the Desert

By Pga Tour MediaJanuary 29, 2008, 5:00 pm
News and notes from PGA TOUR officials for the PGA, Champions and Nationwide tours.
PGA Tour (75x100) PGA TOUR:
  • Phil Mickelson is the reigning King of the Desert. Hes won seven PGA TOUR events played in the deserts in the western U.S. He has three wins in the old Tucson event and two each at the FBR Open and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. No one else has more than three wins in the desert.
  • More on Mickelson: He has eight Top-10 finishes at the TPC Scottsdale, including four in the last five seasons. Over the last five years at the FBR Open, Mickelson has 14 rounds in the 60s (out of 18) and is a collective 60 under par.
  • At least one rookie has won a tournament in the past nine years and 19 of the last 20. The only year in the last 20 in which no rookie was able to win was 1998. Two rookies won last year'Brandt Snedeker and George McNeill.
  • Its important for rookies to get off to a good start in order to maintain or improve their eligibility status. Four rookies are already among the Top 50 on the FedExCup points list'Dustin Johnson (21st), Chez Reavie (25th), Matt Jones (39th) and Brett Rumford (43rd).
  • When Fred Couples finished in a T8 last week at the Buick Invitational, it marked his first Top-10 finish since he was T3 at the 2006 Masters.
  • Mark OMeara spends most of his time now on the Champions Tour, but last week the 51-year old made the cut at the Buick Invitational before finishing 66th.
  • Look for someone with Phoenix-area ties to contend this week at the FBR Open. Players with ties to the area have won seven of the last 12 FBR Opens including last year when local resident Aaron Baddeley won.
  • Ryuji Imada is not known as a big hitter. In fact, he was 148th on TOUR in Driving Distance last year. Last week, though, he nailed the longest drive of the young season at the Buick Invitational. His final-round blast on the 14th hole hit a cart path before going 414 yards.

    Champions Tour CHAMPIONS TOUR:
  • Mark Wiebe joined the Champions Tour last September, but he didnt have his first 3-putt until last weeks Turtle Bay Championship. Wiebes 3-putt on the ninth hole of the opening round ended a stretch of 296 hole without one.
  • Two PGA TOUR veterans posted their best finishes in quite some time last week in Hawaii. Fulton Allems T2 was his best finish since he won the 1993 World Series of Golf and Wayne Gradys T4 was his best effort since winning the 1990 PGA Championship.
  • Fred Funks run of 15 consecutive sub-par rounds ended with a crash last week with a final-round 81 in tough conditions at the Turtle Bay Championship. Funk finished in four-event, two-Tour swing of Hawaii with $185,571 in earnings on the PGA TOUR and $310,103 on the Champions Tour. Hes set a goal of winning $2 million on each Tour this year.

    Nationwide Tour NATIONWIDE TOUR:
  • While this weeks Mexico Open presented by Corona is a new event on the Nationwide Tour, its not a new event. In fact, this years playing of the Mexico Open will be the 50th in its history. It will be the second Nationwide Tour event to be played in Mexico'the Monterrey Open was held from 1993-2001.
  • When Scott Dunlap won last weeks season-opening Panama Movistar Championship, it marked the sixth different country in which hes won an event. Dunlap has won professional events in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Peru, Argentina and now Panama.
  • The 3-under winning score posted by Scott Dunlap last week in Panama was one of the highest winning scores in a 72-hole event in Tour history. Only the even par score shot by Omar Uresti at last years Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship at Wente Vineyards and the 1 under shot by Doug Martin at the 1993 South Texas Open were fewer strokes under-par.
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    Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

    Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

    Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

    Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

    Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


    Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

    Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

    Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

    Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

    Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.