The La Jolla Follies

By Rich LernerFebruary 13, 2001, 5:00 pm
The last time I saw a six beat a seven was in a Calcutta-style tournament years ago. Louie Epstein, a solid 21 handicap, approached a one-footer at the par-4 finishing hole and said to his son-in-law, Howard Sokol, 'Let me tap that in Howard - that's an eight for a seven.'
Meanwhile, one of their opponents, Mort Schiff, stuffed his triple-bogey roll center cut, and with the stroke he was due, lifted his team to victory.

Phil Mickelson's no Mort Shiff, but now he too knows how the rest of the chops in the world of golf feel. Sometimes a double bogey's actually good enough. The La Jolla Follies didn't close with the kind of fireworks Mickelson set off in Fort Worth last year, when he poured in a long range putt at the 72nd hole for a closing 63 at venerable Colonial. But a win's a win, right?
Poor Frank Lickliter. He's on the verge of his first win, needs only five to put it in the bank, and he tosses seven. Should his caddie have grabbed him by the shirt collar after Lefty blew it in the ravine? Was this a Van de Veldian situation? Doubtful, considering Lick had played the 17th in 3-under over the final two rounds using his driver. As for the putt he jackhammered six feet past the hole, that appeared to be a borderline spasm.
Too bad. Lick's a throwback guy, armed for combat behind the wheel of his beloved Humvee with a cigarette, the cool shades and a hunting rifle. Give him credit for walking step-for-step with the game's heavy hitters on Sunday, playing 4-under over the final six to make the playoff.

As for the rules imbroglio, certainly golf fans received a valuable education on the subject of the provisional ball. I, on the other hand, received a stern warning from my family that bedtime for the kids was fast approaching and that if I didn't spend some time with the little ones I'd be penalized in my own right. Try explaining to a three-year-old that in golf there is no clock, only interminably long blimp shots.
Anyway, Mickelson now owns 18 PGA Tour victories at age 30. He's headed to the Hall of Fame, unless he goes Lighthorse Harry Cooper and comes up empty at the majors, which I think is an impossibility. Phil of late has demonstrated the necessary stones. For the second straight year, he issued a directive to the field and particularly to Tiger - who like Phil has deep ties to the San Diego area - that Torrey Pines is his house. Winning the head-to-head with Tiger has to help him when he gets to the majors, possibly eye-to-eye with Woods.
Granted, the loose swings he made at Pebble and then again at San Diego cast a smidgen of doubt, but remember Phil shot 66 on Sunday in winning last year's Tour Championship. Plus, I believe Lefty's one of the few who actually relishes the idea of kicking Tiger's behind. And it's imperative to think that way. Bring Tiger to the center of the ring. Exchange heavy artillery. You striped one 305, I'll take it 310. You jammed a wedge to six feet. I'll put it to four feet.
By the way, this isn't merely a player-versus-player battle we're witnessing. This is equipment company against equipment company. Titleist was getting hammered by Nike, not in terms of overall market share but in terms of perception. Nike had THE WINNER. Titleist had the bluebloods in Mickelson and Love, considered talented but a bit soft in the wake of Tiger's rampage a year ago. Titleist countered with its new Pro V-1 golf ball, and the added 10 to 15 yards has helped Love and Mickelson close the gap.

Interestingly enough, I'm not sure Love got enough credit for what he did at Pebble. Had Tiger started seven back, then played the first seven holes in 8-under, AND hit 18 in two for a summer-rules, course record 63, it would have been widely hailed as another Tiger classic. Instead it was a Love classic, No. 2 on his hit parade behind his rainbow fairy tale at Winged Foot in 1997.
Love had two viable, winning eagle chances on the 72nd and 73rd holes at Torrey, but alas couldn't convert. Still, he's revived hope that instead of being simply a wealthy, 13-win guy with one major, he might someday conclude his fine career as maybe a very wealthy, 20-win and three major guy ticketed for the Hall of Fame.
Finally, even as I'm writing this column Tuesday morning, Tiger Woods is picking up his 29th ESPY, the most overhyped award in history. I need the ESPYs to tell me Woods was athlete of the year? Steven Segal as a presenter?
As unbelievable as six beating seven at The La Jolla Follies.

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Watch: Tiger throws dart, pours in birdie at 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 7:31 pm

Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which we walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.