Woods and Mickelson at It Again

By Sports NetworkMarch 2, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 Ford Championship at DoralMIAMI -- The calendar says 2006, but Thursday's first round of the Ford Championship at Doral strongly resembled last year's final round.
In 2005, Tiger Woods overcame a two-shot deficit on Sunday to defeat Phil Mickelson in one of the PGA Tour's best duels.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods had eight birdies and no bogeys in the first round.
On Thursday, Woods fired an 8-under-par 64 and leads Mickelson and others by a shot at the Blue Course at Doral Golf Resort & Spa. The pair went out at the same tee time -- albeit on different nines -- but the feeling was similar to last year.
'I'm going to try and keep stride with Tiger and maybe we can have another shot at it on Sunday like we did last year,' said Mickelson.
Mickelson was joined in second place by former PGA Champion Rich Beem, Mark Wilson, Ryan Palmer and Camilo Villegas at seven-under-par 65.
Another former PGA Champion, David Toms, posted a 6-under-par 66 and is in seventh place along with Dean Wilson, Scott Verplank, Daniel Chopra and Michael Bradley.
Woods wasted little time getting into red figures on Thursday. He birdied three of his first four holes, including a tap-in at the par-three fourth hole.
The reigning Masters and British Open winner parred his next six holes, but birdied 11. At the long, par-5 12th, Woods was able to reach the green with his second, then two-putted for a birdie.
Mickelson was 5 under par playing the course from the 10th tee, then drained a 7-footer for birdie at his 14th, No. 5 at Doral. He collected another at six to get to 7 under par for the championship.
Woods kept pace. He chipped in for birdie from 25 feet away on the fringe at the 15th, which put him into a tie for the lead at minus-7. He tapped in a 3-footer for birdie at No. 16 to move into the lead.
Both players squandered chances on the way into the clubhouse. Mickelson, last year's PGA Championship winner, missed a nine-foot birdie putt at the seventh and a drive into a bunker halted his birdie chances at the par-5 eighth.
The lefthander had close to 30 feet for birdie at the par-three ninth, but the ball stayed above ground. Mickelson still posted his lowest score of the 2006 season.
'It was fun,' said Mickelson. 'I felt like I had pretty good control. I hit some good shots. I seem to roll them in today. I'm optimistic for the next few days.'
Woods narrowly missed a 25-foot birdie putt at 17 and struggled on the closing hole. His drive landed in the rough, then he caught a flier lie that sent the ball through the green. Woods elected to putt and his birdie putt moved four feet right. The No. 1 player in the world converted the par putt for the first-round lead.
'I hit the ball well today and also made a few putts.' said Woods, who won his first two starts on the season at the Buick Invitational and in Dubai. 'It's nice to get on true greens again.'
This event features nine of the top-10 players in the world. Number two Vijay Singh shot a 5-under 67 and is part of a group tied for 12th place. Retief Goosen, third in the rankings, carded a 2-under 70 to get into a tie for 61st, while Ernie Els, the 2002 champion, only managed an even-par 72. He is part of a group in 98th place.
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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.