Woods Mickelson Go Head-to-Head

By Sports NetworkFebruary 15, 2003, 5:00 pm
SAN DIEGO -- Tiger Woods shot a 4-under 68 Saturday to grab a one-stroke lead after three rounds at the Buick Invitational. Woods stands at 12-under-par 204, one shot ahead of overnight co-leader Brad Faxon.
 
Phil Mickelson sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole to shoot a third-round 69 and climb to minus-10 alongside Steven Alker. Briny Baird, Fred Couples, Jonathan Kaye, Arron Oberholser and Carl Pettersson are one stroke farther back at 9-under-par 207.
 
Woods, who has won 26 of the 28 times he has led entering the final round on the PGA Tour, will be paired with Faxon and Mickelson in the final group on Sunday. Mickelson is the last player to defeat Woods when he was leading after three rounds, which happened at the 2000 Tour Championship.
 
The final pairing will be interesting as Woods and Mickelson are trying to put controversy behind them. Mickelson referred to Woods' equipment as 'inferior' in a recent interview but the duo has reportedly settled any differences they may have had.
 
'I'm looking forward to tomorrow,' said Woods, the 1999 Buick Invitational winner. 'After taking as much time as I took off. I'm excited about getting out there and competing and we have got a great final group. So it's going to be a lot of fun.'
 
'I was thinking on that putt on 18 I would love to get into that last group,' said Mickelson. 'I love the challenge of it. And Tiger's probably not even a hundred percent, he hasn't played competitively for some time. He's had surgery and he's been rehabbing that. And yet he's still atop the leaderboard, still leading the tournament. So it shows you what a great player he is. And I love the opportunity to play with him and compete against him.'
 
Woods, playing in his first tournament since December knee surgery, got off to a quick start with consecutive birdies starting at the first. He followed that up with a birdie at the par-5 sixth.
 
'I got off to a great start,' Woods said. 'Birdied the first two and just kind of grinded my way along today. I didn't hit the ball particularly well, but I got up-and-down from a lot of places today.'
 
The No. 1 player in the world however faltered at the next and went on to make the turn at 10-under.
 
The eight-time major winner continued his dominance of the par-5s on the back nine. He birdied both, Nos. 13 and 18, to climb into the lead.
 
Woods scrambled for his birdie on 18. He drove his ball down the right side of the fairway, but then found trouble. His second shot sailed into the bleachers right of the green. After a free drop, he nearly holed out for eagle before rolling in a short birdie putt to take the lead.
 
'Well I feel a lot better today. I have felt a lot more comfortable with my driving today,' said Woods. 'I hit some better shots off tees. It's just one of those things where I just need to go out there and hit a few balls after I'm done with this and just kind of get back in that rhythm again.'
 
Faxon had an inconsistent round of 71. He started with back-to-back birdies starting at No. 2. He dropped a shot with a bogey at the par-4 fourth, but responded with a 12-foot birdie putt at the next to get back to 12-under.
 
Faxon, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, later bogeyed the seventh before birdieing the ninth to make the turn at minus-12.
 
'I didn't make any many pars early on,' said Faxon. 'The golf course is really new for me. I didn't play last year and my first round was actually the round that was broken up over two days. But you got a real golf course here. There's a lot of good spots to put the pins and you can get them in some corners where it's really hard to attack.'
 
Around the turn, he made another birdie at the 10th to briefly claim a two-shot lead at minus-13. He then bogeyed two of his next three holes, both of which were due to three putts, to drop back into second place.
 
The 2001 Sony Open winner is looking forward playing with Woods and Mickelson.
 
'I don't think I have played in the last group with World's 1 and 2,' said Faxon, who didn't realize Mickelson has fallen to No.3 behind Ernie Els. 'I'm going to kind of get lost in the shuffle a little bit. I think Phil's going to have a little bit more of a home crowd. Tiger, everybody wants to see him play, because he hasn't played at all this year. So it's going to be mayhem out there. But I'm looking forward to it. I've played with both the guys, but I never played with both of them together.'
 
Mickelson shot his second 69 of the tournament despite a double bogey. 'Lefty' carded three straight birdies starting at No. 2 to climb to 10-under. He then parred the final five holes on the front side and the first two on the back.
 
'I played well today and the course was playing very difficult,' Mickelson said. 'But I did get off to a really good start and had a chance to go really low. But I let a few things slide midway through the round. I missed a couple of short birdies on six and nine.'
 
Mickelson went on to double bogey the par-4 12th, his second double bogey of the tournament. He responded with a birdie at the next to reclaim one of those strokes. Mickelson, who owns 21 PGA Tour wins, birdied the 18th to get back to 10-under and set up a final-round duel with Woods and Faxon.
 
'I felt like because I drove it well it was an easy 69,' said Mickelson. 'Because I hit more fairways today than I did the first two days combined. And that gave me a chance to go at a lot of pins, especially with the lift-clean-and-place.'
 
Charles Howell III, Mark Calcavecchia, Marco Dawson, Luke Donald, Spike McRoy, Craig Perks, Rory Sabbatini and Bob Tway are tied for 14th at 6-under 210.
 
Darren Clarke, who was tied for 22nd at 5-under 211, was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. Clarke signed for a par-4 on the 12th, but actually scored a bogey-5 on the hole.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Buick Invitational
  • Full coverage of the Buick Invitational
  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.