DORAL, Fla. – Phil Mickelson has had a different schedule than usual this year, and that’ll continue leading into the Masters.
Mickelson says the reason he decided to add Bay Hill was twofold – one, he wanted to get a certain number of tournaments in before Augusta, and two, his game simply isn’t where he wants it to be yet.
“I am not playing as, or scoring, I should say, as well as I need to heading into Augusta,” Mickelson said Sunday, after his final-round 68 left him at 8-under 280 for the week.
Mickelson won at Doral a year ago.
He was bothered a bit by an elbow stinger on Saturday, but said the problem “went away” before the final round.
THE KUCH IS LOOSE: Matt Kuchar came into this season with three top-three finishes in his last 52 PGA Tour starts.
So far in 2010, he’s 3-for-8.
Kuchar capped off a strong weekend at Doral with a final-round 68, and he finished the CA Championship at 11-under 277 and tied for third, seven shots behind champion Ernie Els.
“Winning last year got me back on track again,” Kuchar said, referring to his win last October over Vaughn Taylor on the sixth hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.
Did it ever.
Kuchar opened the year by finishing third at the SBS Championship, tied for second two weeks later at the Bob Hope Classic and was in a three-way tie for third at Doral. He’s now just over $1.4 million in earnings already this year, good for seventh on the PGA Tour and about $550,000 behind Els.
TIGER WATCH: When Tiger Woods comes back, the PGA Tour hopes he gives them maybe a few extra days to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of extra attention.
“We need time to do it,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday.
Finchem says he gets the Woods question – “When is he coming back?” – about 300 times a day. Woods intends to remain out of golf at least until the Masters, two people with knowledge of his plans told The Associated Press last week. Finchem did not say when he expects Woods to return.
“It’s going to be huge when he comes back,” Finchem said. “And then we’ll see how … it’s going to be an interesting thing to watch, how he re-enters the game, how he plays, how he deals with the reaction to his statement.”
Finchem also said he believes Woods will return with “a renewed respect.”
“I thought he set the bar for himself, and we all know what happens when Tiger sets the bar for himself,” Finchem said. “I’m as excited as everybody else to see him back this spring, but my sense is, we’ll know pretty soon.”
TOO GOOD: Since 1983, only seven players had recorded a hole-in-one, an eagle on a par-4 and an eagle on a par-5 in the same tournament.
Robert Allenby joined that list this week.
Pat McGowan (Andy Williams San Diego Open, 1984), Blaine McCallister (Tucson Open, 1987), Gary Koch (Andy Williams Open, 1988), Jesper Parnevik (BellSouth Classic, 2002), Jason Day (Turning Stone, 2008) and Rickie Fowler (Frys.com Open, 2009) all managed the same feat that Allenby posted this week.
Here’s something else they all have in common: Even with aces and eagles on their cards, none of them managed to win those respective tournaments.
DORAL FUTURE: Software company CA’s deal to be the title sponsor of the World Golf Championships event at Doral ends this year, and it’s expected that the tournament will have a different name in 2011.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday that Doral will be on next year’s schedule, and that the event will remain part of the WGC series. He said CA will reveal its plans regarding the “repositioning of some of its marketing” in the next week or so.
Finchem said the tour does not anticipate having any trouble finding a new sponsor for the Doral event.
POULTER’S DAY: Ian Poulter had a busy Sunday. Shoot 64, fly home to Orlando and watch the Magic try to lock up a spot in the NBA playoffs.
“Makes dinner taste better tonight,” Poulter wrote on his Twitter feed.
Poulter and Alistair Presnell each shot 64 in the final round, with Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner and Y.E. Yang each getting around in 65. Of those five players, only Presnell cracked the top 10, finishing in a tie for sixth.
No one shot better than 66 in the first three rounds at Doral this year.
NOT SO EASY: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem arrived in time to greet the last dozen players teeing off at Doral.
In the final group was Ernie Els.
Els was among the most furious when Tiger Woods ended his three months of silence on the Friday of the Accenture Match Play Championship, the first sponsor to drop Woods. Els wasn’t aware that Woods was headed back to therapy and described the timing as “selfish.” Finchem later said he should have alerted players to what was going on.
Finchem and Els have spoken over the phone since then, but as the Big Easy approached the commissioner on the first tee, Finchem offered a smile and handshake and said, “Go easy on me.”
Els forced a smile in return.