Allenby Awesome Mickelson Shaky at Hope

By Sports NetworkJanuary 17, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Bob Hope Chrysler ClassicPALM DESERT, Calif. -- Australia's Robert Allenby fired a bogey- free round of 9-under-par 63 on Wednesday to take the first-round lead of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

This is the only five-round tournament on the PGA TOUR schedule. The format sees each player grouped with amateurs over the first four rounds before the cut is made.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson had seven birdies, three bogeys and one double in the first round.
The golfers compete on all four courses -- The Classic Club, Bermuda Dunes Country Club, the Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West and La Quinta Country Club. Sunday's final round will be at The Classic Club.

Allenby fired his 63 at LaQuinta.

Reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson made his 2007 debut on Wednesday at La Quinta and turned around what could have been a disastrous round. He dropped three shots in his first four holes, but rebounded with a 2-under-par 70.

Mickelson, who has not played competitively since the Ryder Cup in September, is tied for 47th place.

He was 1 over par on his front nine thanks to two bogeys, a double-bogey and three birdies, but flew out of the gate on the second nine.

He holed a 4-foot birdie putt at the 10th and collected back-to-back birdies at the par-5 11th. Mickelson drained a 20-footer for his third consecutive birdie at 12. At the par-5 13th, Mickelson missed the green, but his vaunted short game bailed him out with a tap-in birdie.

Mickelson dropped a shot at the 14th when he came up short of the green with his second. That storied short game let him down as his chip came up 20 feet short and the three-time major champion missed the par putt. Mickelson parred out for his 70.

Mark Calcavecchia and Craig Kanada are tied for second place after both opened with rounds of 7-under-par 65. Calcavecchia shot his 65 at The Classic Course, while Kanada posted his score at Bermuda Dunes.

Allenby began his round on the back nine and collected his first two birdies at his first two par-5s, the 11th and 13th. He added birdies at 14 and 16 to make the turn at 4-under-par 32.

On his second nine, Allenby flew out quickly with a birdie at one. He tallied back-to-back birdies at five and six to move into sole possession of the lead at minus-7.

Allenby ran into trouble at the par-3 seventh, but holed a 6-foot par save. At his final two holes, Allenby sank a pair of 25-footers for birdie to shoot his lowest number at this tournament.

Allenby had an interesting round due to the fact that the scorekeeper following him gave him credit for eagles on two holes, when in fact, he made birdies. For a period of time, it looked like Allenby would flirt with a magical 59, but he knew his correct score all along.

'The scorekeeper was trying to be nice to me, but I don't think he was all there today,' joked Allenby. 'Every time I made a birdie, he came up trying to shake my hand. Not quite sure what the situation was there. And then obviously the Golf Channel thought I was trying to shoot 59 or 60, probably like everyone else. But I knew what was going on.

'But I played well, tee-to-green I played really well and I made a lot of putts obviously. I made all the short ones and made a lot of putts from 10 feet.'

Charley Hoffman. Dudley Hart, Scott Verplank, Matt Kuchar, Jason Gore, Tripp Isenhour, Bob Heintz and Johnson Wagner are knotted in fourth place at 6-under-par 66.

Former world No. 1 David Duval got off to a strong start on Wednesday. He recorded three birdies and an eagle for a 5-under-par 67 at The Classic Course and is part of a group tied for 12th place.

'I feel like I'm playing well,' said Duval, who shot a 59 at the Palmer Course en route to victory in 1999. 'I finished up last year, I think, for the most part accomplishing my major goals.'

Last week's surprising Sony Open in Hawaii winner Paul Goydos carded a 4- under-par 68, while defending champion Chad Campbell joined Mickelson at minus-2.

Related Links:

  • Full Coverage - Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from a trip to Augusta.

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

    Getty Images

    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

    Getty Images

    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.