Storys the Same Venues Changed

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The 2001 Buick Invitational could have been filed under the heading: Truth is Stranger than Fiction.
 
Phil Mickelson was exasperated. Frank Lickliter was shocked. And the viewing audience was dumbfounded.
 
It was a car wreck, a horror show that you didnt want to watch ' but had to. You covered your eyes with your hand, but separated the middle and ring finger just enough to see what was unfolding.
 
It was disturbing, yet amusing.
 
Mickelson shot 6-under 66 on the final day a year ago, just enough strokes to earn a spot in a playoff with Davis Love III (67) and Frank Lickliter (67), both of whom birdied the 72nd hole.
 
Love was ousted immediately, bogeying the par-3 16th.
 
Mickelson and Lickliter then moved to the second extra hole, the par-4 17th, where the wackiness ensued.
 
Teeing off first, Mickelson pushed a driver into the canyon ' lost ball.
 
Lickliter could see it: the trophy, the winners check, everything hed been working for since turning pro a decade earlier.
 
But before he could get there, he still had to play the present. And instead of properly assessing the situation, he went with his instincts ' driver. Lickliter kept the big stick in his hand and ripped it ' left, also into the canyon.
 
Both men hit provisionals. Lickliter, this time, split the fairway. Mickelson, meanwhile, again went left.
 
Spit it out! he begged.
 
And the timbers obliged, dropping the ball into the approachable rough. Three shots later, the left-hander was in the hole with a 6.
 
Once more, it was advantage Lickliter ' or seemingly so. He found the green with his fourth shot and had a 15-footer for bogey and the victory.
 
Yet his aggressive nature again took control.
 
Lickliter blew his winning effort four feet past the cup, and then missed the comebacker.
 
Im in shock right now, Lickliter said at the time. Other than playing a little stupid, I felt I played pretty good. Its tough to swallow.
 
Said Mickelson: Winning feels great. Ill take it any way it comes.
 
Mickelsons now looking for three in a row. He also collected his first professional victory at this event in 1993.
 
After skipping five months to be with his family, he started this year with a win at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. But, unexpectedly, he missed the cut in last weeks AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
 
That was surprising, and very disappointing, Mickelson said of his missed cut.
 
Tuesday, he played a practice round with a pair of San Diego State University players, Mark Warman, 20, and John Leiber, 22. Both qualified for the tournament by beating out 100 others for the two sponsor's exemptions offered yearly by this event.
 
Leiber nearly aced the 221-yard par-3 11th at the South Course. He then chipped in from the fairway for birdie on the 468-yard par-4 12th. Warman responded with a 110-yard hole-out on the 535-yard par-5 13th.
 
I dont consider them kids. Theyre older than some of the guys we have on tour, joked Mickelson, who played his first PGA Tour event here as a 17-year-old amateur in 1988.
 
Though quite familiar with Torrey Pines, Mickelson knows this week will be unlike any other hes played at this venue.
 
This is a very interesting week, because were going to see the opening of Torrey Pines South, he said.
 
The South Course has undergone major renovations. Its been extended from 7,055 yards to 7,607. In addition, all the greens and bunkers have been altered.
 
Mickelson warned not to expect a winning total similar to his 19-under score a year ago.
 
Its very difficult to make birdies and the greens and the length of the holes on the South makes par a very good score, which is something we havent seen in years past, he said.
 
I think what you shoot on the North Course (6,874 yards) will be about how many under par youll be for the tournament because I think the South Course, if you can shoot par, thats going to be a good round.
 
More on the South Course changes