Rest can only help Tiger, Phil after wild Saturday

By Randall MellOctober 6, 2013, 12:49 am

DUBLIN, Ohio – Saturday’s wretched weather came with a silver lining.

If you’re a Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson fan, you got to see Tiger and Lefty from sun up to sun down at the Presidents Cup.

Actually, with the monsoon season here at the TPC Rain Forest (aka Muirfield Village Golf Club), there wasn’t much sun, but there were a ton of birdies by the game’s two biggest stars in a marathon day of golf.

Saturday was jam packed with three sessions of play, the conclusion of Day 2’s foursomes, Day 3’s fourballs and the start of Day 3’s foursomes.

Woods and Mickelson put on a fireworks show. They combined to be a part of 15 birdies and an eagle on the day. 

Sunday holds the promise of another full day of Tiger and Lefty.

That could be a good thing . . . or it could be a bad thing.

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While Woods and Mickelson have had their share of struggles in Ryder Cups, the Presidents Cup has been their tonic. They’ve played brilliantly leading the Americans so far this week, but this weekend is challenging them with an awful lot of golf over a late-season run of an awful lot of big tournaments.

At the end of Saturday, with the Internationals trying to turn this event around, you had to wonder how much gas is left in Woods’ and Mickelson’s tanks. It was such a long, grueling day.

“I don’t know how these guys are still on their feet playing in conditions that were very tough,” Internationals’ captain Nick Price said of all the players in Saturday’s marathon.

This has been a long season for both Woods, 37, and Mickelson, 43. Woods has battled through back, neck and elbow issues and isn’t that far removed from knee problems. Woods confessed at the Tour Championship last month that he was feeling tired, that he struggled in the middle of that championship under “tired” legs.

Mickelson made his own revelations at the Tour Championship, explaining that this season was too busy for him, that he needs to significantly cut his schedule to be at his best. He does have that psoriatic arthritis issue. He battled stiffness after a rain delay in the middle of the first session on Thursday, and he didn’t feel right coming back out after play resumed.

There have been challenges here for both players.

“They are exhausted,” Couples said.

You wouldn’t know it, though. They’re responsible for five of the USA’s 11 ½ points.

Woods is 3-0 in this Presidents Cup, teaming with Matt Kuchar in all three of those victories.

Woods played 31 holes on the day. He was there before the sun was up, in position to play at 7:35 a.m. He didn’t leave Muirfield Village until after the sun set.

Woods helped the Americans notch two points on Saturday. In that early conclusion of the suspended foursomes, he and Kuchar needed four holes to finish off Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, 4 and 2.

After a short break, Woods was right back out there in fourballs with Kuchar again, taking down Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama, 1 up.

After another short break, Woods was out once more with Kuchar, this time to take on Ernie Els and Brendon De Jonge in foursomes.

“Tiger, honestly, is beat up,” U.S. captain Fred Couples said. “But he is playing his tail off.”

Amid Saturday’s three sessions, Woods sat through a 1-hour, 17-minute rain delay. His joints can get creaky, and there were late signs on the scoreboard that maybe his energy’s depleting. Woods and Kuchar lost the first hole in the day’s last foursomes match and trailed all the way until the sun set, falling 2 down through nine holes to Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge when play was suspended.

Couples said Woods and Mickelson aren’t just vital on the course. He relies on them heavily off the course in helping make decisions. He asked them point blank if they were good to go in all five matches.

“I can ask Tiger anything, and he goes,`No, I'm playing five matches,’” Couples said. “And I said, `OK.’  And I asked Phil, and he said, `I've never been more excited to play golf in my life, and I'm ready to go.’  So that was pretty easy for them.”

At the Ryder Cup a year ago, Mickelson created some debate when he asked that he and Bradley sit out the Saturday afternoon fourballs session to be fresh for Sunday singles. The Americans ended up losing the Ryder Cup by a single point. There will be no similar scrutiny this week, but just how much fuel both Mickelson and Woods have remaining is a legitimate question.

Mickelson didn’t have to show up quite as early as Woods on Saturday morning. After finishing his foursomes match Friday evening, Mickelson joined Keegan Bradley on the first tee for Saturday’s fourballs at 8:33 a.m. They won that match, 2 and 1, against Els and de Jonge.

Mickelson and Bradley took a 2-1 record together in the day’s last foursome session, but they struggled early in that last match, falling 2 down to Jason Day and Graham DeLaet before fighting back to square the match with five holes to go. That’s where they stood when darkness suspended play.

Maybe a night’s rest is all Woods and Mickelson need to finish off what they’ve started so brilliantly.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.