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
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry