Another Major Surprise in Store

By Sports NetworkAugust 15, 2003, 4:00 pm
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Shaun Micheel, a 34-year-old participating in his third major championship, matched the lowest round of the day Friday with a 2-under 68 to take a two-shot lead through 36 holes of the 85th PGA Championship. Micheel stands at 3-under-par 137 as Oak Hill Country Club showed its teeth in the second round.
Masters champion Mike Weir, who bogeyed his last two holes en route to a 1-over 71, joined Billy Andrade, who started the week as an alternate, in second place at 1-under-par 139. Andrade went off in the morning and carded a 2-over 72.
Micheel was 1 over par when he reached the fifth hole, his 14th on Friday. He knocked a 9-iron to three feet to set up birdie and reach even par, but the best was yet to come for the Memphis resident.
At the par-3 sixth, Micheel tried to play a 6-iron to the middle of the green but instead knocked it to 20 feet and sank the putt to match Weir and Andrade in first place at minus-1.
Micheel parred the seventh, then took sole possession of the lead at eight when he played a 9-iron to 25 feet and drained the putt. He added an eight-footer for birdie at the ninth to take a two-shot lead in only his first trip to the PGA Championship.
'I'm kind of glad the day is over and I'm certainly glad the way I finished,' said Micheel, who has three top-10s on the PGA Tour in 2003. 'I was just really happy and really honored to be invited. I wasn't really watching the leaderboard. I was really more concerned about keeping myself in position so that I might have a good weekend.'
Rod Pampling, one of the overnight co-leaders, holed a 9-iron from 148 yards for par on the 18th hole to shoot a 4-over 74 and stand alone in fourth place at even-par 140.
Phil Mickelson, who shared the lead with Pampling on Thursday, had things going with a birdie at the fourth hole to reach 5 under par. It unraveled from there as Mickelson drove into the rough at the fifth, then dunked his second in the water. He left the hole with a double bogey but still held the lead.
Mickelson, who is 0-45 in major championships, splashed his tee ball on the seventh and played his third at the par-4 hole to the collar of the fringe behind the green. He pitched to 10 feet and missed that putt for his second double bogey in three holes.
The left-hander bogeyed 14 and 17 for a round of 5-over 75.
'The difference today was that I did not offset those mistakes with any birdies, whereas yesterday, the couple of bogeys that I had, I made six birdies to offset it and I had a good round,' said Mickelson, who finished second in this event to David Toms in 2001. 'I thought the biggest difference for me today was actually, well, two things. When I missed the driver, it was to the right, which is not good for me and the second thing was, I didn't make any putts.'
Mickelson is part of a group in fifth place at 1-over-par 141 with three-time major winner Ernie Els (70), Chad Campbell (72), Jose Coceres (68), Tim Herron (72), Adam Scott (69) and Tom Pernice, Jr. (71).
Tiger Woods, the winner in 1999 and 2000, will have his work cut out for him if he is to earn his first major title of 2003. He followed up his first-round 74 with a 2-over 72 and is tied for 39th at 6-over-par 146.
He bogeyed two of his final three holes with wedges in his hands from the fairway.
'I thought I hit good shots, but didn't hit it close and that's disappointing,' said Woods.
With Woods safely in the rear-view mirror, Micheel now only has to worry about the Oak Hill Course, some major winners within striking distance and an untested track record in major championships.
'Surely, I'd love to add my name to the long list of names that are on that Wanamaker Trophy, but that's obviously getting a little bit ahead of myself,' said Micheel. 'I haven't really proven myself as a tour winner yet.'
Micheel looked like an ordinary tour player when he double bogeyed the 14th after a poor approach and a poor chip. He bogeyed the 15th when he three-putted but reclaimed the stroke with a birdie at 16.
He saved an amazing par at 17 when his drive landed in the right rough. He left himself with close to 50 feet to save par and poured it in for what Micheel called the turning point of his round.
Micheel birdied 18 but dropped a shot at three. Then came the big finish and now, the final pairing in a major championship awaits.
'I don't see any reason why tomorrow will be any different,' said Micheel. 'I mean, it probably will be, but if I keep hitting the fairway, there's no reason why I can't have another good day tomorrow and even Sunday.'
Weir had control of the championship at 3 under par but stumbled into the clubhouse. He finished on the front nine Friday and missed a four-footer at No. 8. At the ninth, he missed the fairway on the right, then pitched out into the left rough and missed the green short with his third. He got up and down from there and had to settle for a joint second.
'It wasn't the finish I was looking for, but that's this golf course,' said the Masters champion. 'You miss a shot a little bit off-line, it's going to bite you.'
Andrade would have been alone in second place had he not missed the fairway on eight, his 17th of the day. He left with bogey and posted the lowest total in the clubhouse after the morning tee times.
'I know one thing, when they see my name on the leaderboard at 1 under, I don't think they are scared,' said Andrade, who made it in this week when Larry Nelson withdrew. 'I don't think there's anybody scared that Andrade is up there. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. I played the best that I could play for two days and I can't wait till tomorrow.'
The 36-hole cut fell at 8-over-par 148 and several top-ranked players failed to survive the weekend. Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Davis Love III and Sergio Garcia all finished at plus-9; Retief Goosen was 11-over par and 2002 champion Rich Beem posted a two-day total of 17-over-par 157.
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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.”

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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.