Bunker Shots Phils Waste Land

By Randall MellFebruary 23, 2010, 7:55 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from the wildest stage in golf to LPGA Player of the Year ramifications in Singapore . . .

Waste Management Phoenix Open

Just six weeks to the Masters, and we’re still looking for confirmation Phil Mickelson’s the man to beat at Augusta National this spring.

Coming into the season, Mickelson looked like a good bet to win his third green jacket whether Tiger Woods was teeing it up or not.

Mickelson poses with trophy after WGC-HSBC Champio
Mickelson poses with the trophy after his one-stroke victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions (Getty Images)
Mickelson registered two pretty good knockdowns of Woods in head-to-head duels last year that got our attention. There was that pairing in the final round at Augusta National in the spring that felt like a heavyweight undercard with both players too far back to truly challenge. Still, it was great theater, Mickelson shooting 67 to Woods’ 68.

And late last fall, Mickelson added to the feeling he was more game than ever to challenge Woods in the biggest events. His win at the Tour Championship, his dazzling play at the Presidents Cup and his head-to-head trouncing of Woods in the final round of the HSBC Champions in China gave him terrific momentum heading into the new season.

Though Mickelson has yet to pick up where he left off last season – Mickelson has one top-10 finish in three starts this year – his next two starts are prime venues to begin his upswing to peak at the Masters.

Mickelson, an Arizona State graduate, has won twice at the TPC at Scottsdale and finished second there another time. He’ll be the defending champion at the WGC-CA Championship at Doral in two weeks.

Stance: There will be no preparing Germany’s Martin Kaymer for the wildest stage in golf, a.k.a. the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. He’s the highest-ranked first-timer being introduced to the hole this week at No. 8 in the world. The 16th hole  is a stadium with a 162-yard par 3 in the middle of it. “It’s like hitting a shot in the Rose Bowl,” Tom Lehman once said. For pros, playing there is like playing through a frat party.

Takeaway:  Three of the top eight players in the world rankings will be playing this week: No. 3 Mickelson, No. 5 Ian Poulter and No. 8 Kaymer. Throw in Fred Couples, Geoff Ogilvy, Anthony Kim, Davis Love III and Camilo Villegas and there’s ample star power to cheer.

Bunker shot: Apologies to Mickelson, but J.B. Holmes rules the TPC at Scottsdale. He’s the man to beat this week. Combine his all-or-nothing record on that course with his recent form, and Holmes has to be favored to win his third title at TPC Scottsdale in five years. He’s coming off a tie for second at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and a tie for third at the Northern Trust Open. In the last four years of this event, Holmes has alternated between missing the cut and winning.


HSBC Women’s Champions

If Lorena Ochoa and Jiyai Shin are going to resume the close contest they waged for Rolex Player of the Year honor last season, this is a good event to make their first moves.

Two years ago, Ochoa won the HSBC Women’s Champions on the Tanah Mera Country Club’s Gardens Course in Singapore by a whopping 11 shots. She dusted runner-up Annika Sorenstam, sending a powerful message early in the year.

Last year, Shin won on the same course, beating Katherine Hull by two shots with Ochoa tying for sixth.

Stance: Suzann Pettersen wants to rise to No. 1 in the world before her career ends. She looked capable of making a quick move to the summit when she won five LPGA events in 2007, but she didn’t follow up, going winless in ’08 and claiming one title last year. With her runner-up finish to Ai Miyazato in the season-opener last weekend, Pettersen looks as if she might be ready to begin making that climb to the top in earnest.

Takeaway: Paula Creamer’s withdrawal from last week’s season opener is troublesome. She fought through the mysterious stomach ailment last year, and when she finally began feeling better, she was derailed by a left thumb injury. She aggravated the injury last Thursday, withdrew after the first round in Thailand and flew back to Detroit to see a hand specialist last weekend. She’s off to see a second specialist in Cincinnati later this week. It’s troubling news for the American women’s game, which could use a boost to rebound from last year’s poor showing. The Americans won five LPGA events in ’09, fewest in any season since the LPGA was formed in 1950.

Bunker shot: The LPGA could use a big story this week to jolt its 2010 storylines to a big start. After this weekend’s HSBC Women’s Champions finish, the LPGA will go silent again for three weeks. An American victory in Asia would elevate anticipation of the American start to the tour schedule at the Kia Classic March 25-28 at La Costa in Carlsbad, Calif.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm