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.

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Watch that time Tiger throttled Ames, 9 and 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 4:54 pm

Nine and eight. Three words that live in golf lore. Just say them and any golf fan can tell you what they mean.

In the 2006 WGC-Match Play, Tiger Woods faced Stephen Ames in the opening round. Ames, when asked prior to the event about his chance of winning, infamously said, "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it."

What happened on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at La Coasta Resort & Spa, was the most lopsided result in tournament history: 9 and 8 Check out the highlights below:

After his win, Woods was asked if Ames' comment had motivated him. Woods replied, "9 and 8."

Woods eventually lost, 1 up, to Chad Campbell in the third round. He then won his next start at Doral and went on to finish the season with six consecutive Tour wins, including The Open and PGA. He also won his first start in 2007 to make it seven consecutive Tour titles.

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Schedule change, caddie change for Casey at Match Play

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 4:12 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Paul Casey originally planned to skip the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, opting for two weeks off before the Masters.

Those plans changed when he removed the Arnold Palmer Invitational from his schedule and returned home to England last week to attend the funeral of a family friend. That adjustment also prompted a caddie change this week, with Scott Vail stepping in for the Englishman’s normal caddie, John McLaren.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Tee times

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

“We looked at tickets and it just didn't make sense for Johnny to fly back. We try and base our schedule around playing the best golf possible, but also having quality family time,” Casey said on Tuesday at Austin Country Club. “For Johnny to break up a nice three-week break with his family, there was no point to ruining that.”

This isn’t the first time Casey, who won the Valspar Championship two weeks ago, has needed a replacement caddie. At last year’s Travelers Championship, McLaren took a similar break and was replaced on the bag by Shannon Wallace. Although it’s not uncommon for caddies to take a week off, McLaren does have one stipulation.

“The only rule we have is that if Johnny is not going to work, he picks my caddie. So he picked the caddie,” said Casey, who is 20-12-1 in 12 starts at the Match Play and has advanced to the championship match twice.

Westchester Country Club hosted the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. (Getty) Getty Images

Westchester selected to host 2021 U.S. Women's Am

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 3:20 pm

The USGA announced Tuesday that Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., has been selected to host the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur. The tournament will be held Aug. 2-8, 2021.

The club's West Course first hosted the event in 1923, and it boasts a storied history of professional tournaments as well. The PGA Tour hosted the Westchester Classic, later known as the Buick Classic and eventually The Barclays, at Westchester from 1967-2007, including the first-ever FedExCup playoff event, won by Steve Stricker in 2007.

The course was also the site of the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, won by Fred Couples, and the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, won by Inbee Park.

"The USGA is thrilled to bring the U.S. Women's Amateur to Westchester Country Club for the second time," Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman, said in a release. "One of the USGA's three oldest championships, the Women's Amateur consistently identifies the world's top female players, and we are confident Westchester will provide the ultimate test for the championship's 121st playing."

First held in 1895, the Women's Amateur is open to players with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 5.4. Sophia Schubert won last year's event at San Diego Country Club, while this year's tournament will be held at The Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs.

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Stock Watch: Park rises again, under the radar

By Ryan LavnerMarch 20, 2018, 12:48 pm

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


Rory (+10%): The massive drives, the fist pumps, the unmistakable strut – McIlroy finally found the spark that he needed to play confident, aggressive golf. Bring on Augusta and his shot at history.

Tiger (+7%): It was another forgettable end to a final round, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Five events into his comeback, Woods has now carded 10 consecutive rounds of par or better – all on tough tracks – and can be viewed as a legitimate threat at the Masters. Remarkable, really.

Inbee Park (+5%): Fighting injuries and questioning whether she should retire, the Queen ‘Bee routed a top field in just her second start back. Stud.

Bryson (+3%): When The Machine operates properly, he’s one of the best ball-strikers in the world. Yes, he’s still painfully slow, but there’s no denying his talent – his runner-up against a star-studded field should help him tremendously.

Laura Davies (+2%): Fifty-four years old and nursing an Achilles injury, she turned back the clock with one of the coolest performances of the young season, on any tour. She’s still got tons of game.


Henrik Stenson (-1%): Maybe he’s just destined to go winless at Bay Hill. In the past four years, he’s had three excellent chances to win there and came away empty-handed each time.

Rickie (-2%): Hanging near the lead, Fowler closed his third round bogey-double, then shot 74 in the final round to drop out of the top 10. Sigh.  

P-Reed (-3%): His whiny protest to a rules official about a free drop – “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth” – got even juicier when the Ryder Cup partners were drawn in the same group at the Match Play. Get your popcorn ready.

Ted Potter Jr. (-5%): His impressive victory at Pebble Beach over DJ, Phil and J-Day is looking more and more like a fluke each week. He’s now missed four consecutive cuts.

Fan behavior (-7%): Another week, another player complaining about increasingly hostile spectators. The Tour has (frustratingly) remained quiet on the issue, but the tipping point will come when one of these dopes affects the outcome on the 72nd hole.