Lefty, Stanley eager to get back in action

By Associated PressFebruary 2, 2012, 12:08 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Kyle Stanley and Phil Mickelson looked forward to fresh starts Thursday in the first round of the Phoenix Open. Defending champion Mark Wilson savored some pleasant memories in his return to the Valley of the Sun.

Stanley was eager to get back on the course after a devastating loss at Torrey Pines on Sunday when he had a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole of regulation and ended up losing to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Stanley said. “I think we’ve got to remember that the year has just started, so I have probably 27 or 28 events ahead of me, and the process doesn’t change, the mindset doesn’t change. I’m playing great golf right now.

“I’m just trying to focus on the positive things I did last week. I mean, I played some really good golf.”

Mickelson missed the cut at Torrey Pines, shooting 77-68 in his hometown event a week after opening the season with a tie for 49th in the Humana Challenge. The former Arizona State star won at TPC Scottsdale in 1996 and 2005.

“I don’t know what happened last week,” Mickelson said after his pro-am round with former NFL star Emmitt Smith. “I’m going to put it as something I’m going to shrug off because I know that my practice sessions have been really good.

“I was able to take it a little bit better to the course today. I hit a lot of good shots today, and bringing it from the practice session and bringing it out on the golf course, that’s my challenge right now.”

Snedeker is trying to look ahead, too.

“The great thing about the PGA Tour and golf is as great as last week was, come Thursday morning it’s not going to matter a bit,” Snedeker said. “It’s a new golf tournament, a new course, and I’ve got to get my mind ready to play, and I feel like my game is really good, so I’m excited about teeing off tomorrow morning.”

Wilson, the Humana Challenge winner in his last start, won last year in a Monday finish, beating Jason Dufner on the second extra hole in the frost-delayed event.

“Last week was the first time I’ve ever had a week off after a win,” Wilson said. “So, I was able to soak it up and enjoy answering all the emails I got from friends and family and enjoy time with the family and just sort of ease into this week. It was a welcome thing to do there, to have a week off.”

The 37-year-old Wisconsin native, one of the Tour’s shortest hitters, is done tinkering with his game.

“I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel every week like I was when I was 30,” the five-time Tour winner said. “I don’t do that anymore. I just do the same things over and over again.”

Wilson and Snedeker will play the first two rounds with Sony Open winner Johnson Wagner. Mickelson will play alongside ninth-ranked Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

Sixth-ranked Webb Simpson also is in the field along with FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas, PGA winner Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar and two-time winners J.B. Holmes and Vijay Singh. Simpson and Johnson are the only players in the top 10 in the world ranking in the field.

Holmes is making his second start since having brain surgery in September. The 2006 and 2008 Phoenix winner had structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. He missed the cut at Torrey Pines, shooting 76-69.

“It was great to just get back at it last week. Hopefully, I can improve on that,” Holmes said. “I didn’t play that great, but it was just nice to get back out there and get back in the swing of things.”

DIVOTS: Watson turned heads Wednesday when he pulled into the players’ parking lot behind the wheel of the first “General Lee” from the “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV show. Watson paid $121,000 - including fees - for the 1969 Dodge Charger at Barrett-Jackson’s recent Scottsdale auction. “Lee 01” jumped over a police car in the series’ first episode. … Fred Couples, in the field on a sponsor exemption, withdrew Wednesday because of illness. He was replaced by Ken Duke. … Nick Watney withdrew Tuesday, also because of illness. He was replaced by Jarrod Lyle. … Three-time winner Mark Calcavecchia, rookie Harris English and former Arizona State players Jeff Quinney and Matt Jones also received sponsor exemptions.

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Wise continues whirlwind ascent with first win

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 3:13 am

DALLAS – Still shy of his 22nd birthday, Aaron Wise continues to prove himself to be a quick learner.

Wise went from unheralded prospect to NCAA individual champ seemingly in the blink of an eye while at the University of Oregon. After eschewing his final two years of eligibility in Eugene, he won in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour in his third start as a professional.

He continued a quick learning curve with a win last year on the Web.com Tour to propel him to the big leagues, and he didn’t flinch while going toe-to-toe with Jason Day two weeks ago, even though the result didn’t go his way.

Faced with another opportunity to take down a top-ranked Aussie, Wise made sure he got the job done Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson – even though it took until dark.

With mid-day rains turning a firm and fast layout into a birdie barrage, Wise seamlessly switched gears and put his first PGA Tour title on ice in impressive fashion with a bogey-free 65. Deadlocked with Marc Leishman to start the day, Wise made six birdies in his first 10 holes and coasted to a three-shot win as the leaders barely beat the setting sun to avoid an anticlimactic Monday finish at Trinity Forest Golf Club.


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As it turned out, the hardest part of the day was enduring the four-hour weather delay alongside his mother, Karla, as his afternoon tee time turned into a twilight affair.

“She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”

Wise displayed some jitters right out of the gates, with a nervy three-putt par on the opening hole. But with several players going on birdie runs to turn what seemed like a two-man race into a much more wide-open affair, Wise went on a tear of his own with four birdies in a row on Nos. 7-10.

That gave him a window over Leishman and the rest of the chase pack, and he never looked back.

“I talked to myself and kind of made myself trust my putting,” Wise said. “These greens out here are really tricky, and for me to roll those putts in on 8 and 9 really kind of separated things.”

Leishman had held at least a share of the lead after each round, and the 34-year-old veteran was looking for his third win in the last 14 months. But a bogey on No. 10 coincided with a Wise birdie to boost the rookie’s advantage from two shots to four, and Leishman never got closer than three shots the rest of the way.

“He holed putts he needed to hole, and I didn’t,” Leishman said. “Hit a couple loose shots where I could have probably put a bit of pressure on him, and didn’t. And that’s probably the difference in the end.”

Instead of sitting next to a trophy in Dallas, Wise could have been closing out his senior season next week with an NCAA appearance at Karsten Creek. But the roots of his quick climb trace back to the Master of the Amateurs in Australia in December 2015, a tournament he won and one that gave him confidence that he could hold his own against the best in the world. He returned to Eugene and promptly told his coach, Casey Martin, that he planned to turn pro in the spring.

The same dogged confidence that drove that decision has been the guiding force behind a whirlwind ascent through every rung of the professional ladder.

“I just have a lot of belief in myself. I didn’t come from a lot. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf,” Wise said. “Kind of all along it’s been very, very few moments to shine and I have had to take advantage of them.”

Despite that belief, even Wise admits that he’s “shocked” to turn only his second real chance to contend at this level into a maiden victory. But fueled by the memories of a close call two weeks ago, he put the lessons learned at Quail Hollow to quick use while taking the next step in an increasingly promising career arc.

“It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said. “To walk up 18, knowing I kind of had it locked up, was pretty cool.”

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Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:51 am

DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.

“Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

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Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.

“It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”

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Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:33 am

DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.

Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.

Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


“I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”

Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.

“I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.

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Wise wins first Tour title at AT&T Byron Nelson

By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 1:22 am

On the strength of a final-round 65, 21-year-old Aaron Wise broke through for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, taking the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. Here's how Wise beat the field and darkness following a lengthy rain delay:

Leaderboard: Wise (-23), Marc Leishman (-20), Branden Grace (-19), J.J. Spaun (-19), Keith Mitchell (-19)

What it means: This is Wise’s first PGA Tour win in just his 18th start as a member. Tied with Leishman to start the final round, Wise raced ahead with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 4-10 and never looked back. He'd make eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse and the winner's circle. The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion just locked up Tour status through the 2019-20 season and guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship.

Best of the rest: Leishman reached 20 under par but just couldn’t keep pace with Wise. This is his second runner-up of the season, following a solo second in the CJ Cup in October.

Round of the day: Grace carded a 62 – where have I heard that before? – with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end up tied for third, his best finish of the season on Tour.

Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott looked as though he had done enough to qualify for the U.S. Open via the Official World Golf Ranking when he walked off the golf course. Unfortunately, minutes later, he’d drop from a four-way tie for sixth into a three-way tie for ninth, narrowly missing out on this week's OWGR cutoff.

Break of the day: Wise could very well have found the hazard off the tee at No. 9 if not for a well-placed sprinkler head. Rather than drop a shot, he took advantage of his good fortune and poured in another birdie putt to extend his lead.

Quote of the day: "It's a dream come true to win this one." - Wise