Woods dominates European Tour events

By Randall MellNovember 6, 2013, 9:27 pm

Fifteen years ago, Tiger Woods broke through to win his first European Tour event outside a major in spectacular fashion.

Eight shots down to Ernie Els entering the final round of the Johnnie Walker Classic, Woods blitzed Blue Canyon Country Club in Thailand to win with a final-round 65. He beat Els in a playoff.

“It’s amazing what he did,” Els said in the wake of that defeat.

The thundering footsteps Els heard coming that week still echo through the European Tour.

Woods will make his 121st start in a European Tour event when he tees it up Thursday at the Turkish Airlines Open.

You think Tiger Woods’ winning percentage is good on the PGA Tour? He’s even more of a certain thing in a European Tour sanctioned event.

Woods has won 40 of the 120 European Tour events he is credited for playing as a pro in his career. That’s a 33 percent winning rate. Yes, World Golf Championship events (18) count in that total. So do majors (14). If you want to put an asterisk there, put an asterisk, but those events count for European Tour pros, too.

In 309 PGA Tour starts, Woods has won 79 times, a 25 percent winning clip.

Yes, the nature of PGA Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned events can blur the statistical lines between the tours, but those events still pit the best of both tours against each other.

Thirteen years ago, when he made nine starts that counted on the European Tour, Woods was so comfortable he considered becoming a member of the European Tour while also playing the PGA Tour.

“I thought about it, back in early 2000, when we had seven, maybe eight events, that were co-sanctioned events, and the minimum number to play to be a member was 11 at the time,” Woods said in his news conference Wednesday at the Turkish Airlines Open. “I obviously just had to add a few more, but I didn’t go that route, and Monty ended up getting a few of those [Order of Merit] titles those years.

“It was something I did consider.”

Colin Montgomerie probably should have sent a thank-you note to Woods for not becoming a European Tour member. Montgomerie’s run winning seven consecutive Order of Merit titles in the ’90s would have ended a year early if Woods’ were a member. Woods actually led the European Tour in earnings in ’99, 2000, ’02, ’05, ’06 and ’07, but he wasn’t eligible for the Order of Merit because he wasn’t a member.

Two years ago, Luke Donald was credited as the first player to win the PGA Tour money title and European Order of Merit in the same season. Woods actually would have done that six times if he had been a European Tour member those years.

Woods was credited for winning a European Tour event over 12 consecutive years (1998-2009).

While much is made of Woods’ pursuit of Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record 82 titles, and Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 professional major championship titles, Woods is also sneaking up on Seve Ballesteros’ record 50 European Tour titles. Bernhard Langer (42) is second behind Ballesteros with Woods third.

Yeah, if Tiger passes Seve on the Euro Tour win list, there is probably an asterisk in order. Woods, after all, has won 29 of his 40 “European Tour” titles in the United States.

Woods, of course, is the favorite to win this week. Ladbrokes favors him 4/1 to win with Justin Rose at 10/1.

“This has turned into one of the biggest events on the European circuit,” Woods said before his practice round Wednesday. “So, I’m excited to be here, excited to go out and take a look at the golf course today and see how it’s playing and come up with a plan to play it the next four days.”

Woods complained that he wasn't sharp when he lost that 18-hole exhibition match to Rory McIlroy last week at Mission Hills in China. He said he shut down his game for two weeks after the Presidents Cup. This week will mark his first tournament action since he played the Tour Championship almost seven weeks ago.

“The rust is starting to come off a little bit,” he said.

If Woods wins this week, he will be credited for having as many European Tour titles as Lee Westwood (22), Ian Poulter (12) and Luke Donald (7) combined.

Ernie Els is listed as the European Tour’s all-time leading money winner with 29,467,156 euros.

Woods, though, actually dominates in money won in European Tour sanctioned events. Woods has won 45,153,187 euros in his career.

This week, Woods looks to pad those numbers and add to his European Tour success.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, 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.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

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 PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

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 Course 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. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

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.

Getty Images

Mickelson 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.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. 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.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.