Lefty Lapping the Field at BellSouth

By Sports NetworkMarch 31, 2006, 5:00 pm
BellSouth ClassicDULUTH, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson, the defending champion and two- time winner here, posted a 7-under 65 Friday to take a six-stroke lead after two rounds of the BellSouth Classic.
Mickelson completed the opening 36 holes at 16-under-par 128. That was one stroke better than the old 36-hole record set by Larry Nelson in 1988.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson followed up a Thursday 63 with a 7-under 65 on Friday to lead by six.
'It's not the easiest thing to do,' Mickelson said of following a low round with another good score. 'On the other hand, when you're playing well and you have some confidence, if you just get a couple of putts to go in, it sets the tone for the day. I was able to attack a lot of pins and get the ball close and play for birdies, rather than fighting for pars.'
Both of Mickelson's first two wins at this event came in weather-shortened, playoff affairs.
J.J. Henry also fired a 65 in round two to climb into second place at 10-under-par 134. Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal is one stroke further back at minus-9 after a 64. Australian Gavin Coles stands alone in fourth place at 8-under-par 136 after an even-par 72 in the second round.
Mickelson got off to a flying start as he birdied 10 and 11 on the TPC at Sugarloaf to quickly jump to 11 under. After a par on 12, he birdied the 13th to keep rolling.
The 2004 Masters champion parred his next three holes before dropping in another birdie putt on the par-4 17th. Mickelson moved to 14 under with a birdie on the first.
The 35-year-old former Arizona State star ran in a birdie putt on the fifth. Mickelson made it two straight with a birdie on six. He parred the final three holes and has played 28 consecutive holes without a bogey.
'Well, it was a fun round. I enjoyed coming out this morning when the greens were fresh and making a couple of putts early,' Mickelson said. 'It was fun to keep the ball in play and feel like I was trying to make birdie every hole rather than fighting for par. Those rounds are few and far between for me, but I love them when they occur.'
Henry opened with back-to-back pars before jumping up the leaderboard with four straight birdies from the third to move to 7 under.
The Connecticut native parred each of his next six holes around the turn. Henry dropped in a birdie on the par-4 13th and made it two straight as he also birdied 14. After three more pars, Henry closed with a birdie at the last. He has gone 26 consecutive holes without a bogey.
Olazabal got off to a flying start with four birdies over his first six holes. After parring his next four holes, the Spaniard collected birdies on 11, 13 and 15 to get to minus-8. He closed with a birdie on No. 18 to close out a bogey-free round of his own.
'I played a lot better than Thursday without question. I made a lot of putts today and that was the key for today's round,' said Olazabal. 'I hit my irons okay. The only area where it was not all that good was the driving. Even though I hit most of the fairways, I did not feel comfortable with it.'
Jonathan Byrd posted a 4-under 68 to get to 7-under-par 137. He was joined in a tie for fifth by Shane Bertsch (69) and Charles Warren (72). Luke Donald, Duffy Waldorf, Ian Poulter and Ryuji Imada were one stroke further back at minus-6.
The cut line fell at even-par 144 with 79 players moving on to the weekend. Among those missing out on the final two rounds were Rory Sabbatini, J.B. Holmes and Olin Browns at 145, Miguel Angel Jimenez (146) and Chris DiMarco (153). DiMarco, a playoff loser to Tiger Woods at the Masters last year, is battling a rib injury.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.