Mickelson Still Hot in the Desert

By Associated PressJanuary 30, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 FBR OpenSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Mickelson stayed on pace to win back-to-back tournaments for the first time in his career Friday, shooting a 3-under-par 68 to take a one-shot lead in the FBR Open.
Mickelson had three birdies and an eagle before bogeying the last two holes.
His 36-hole score of 10-under 132 was just beyond the reach of Jonathan Kaye, Jeff Sluman and first-round leader Scott Verplank.
'It could have been a really good day, but it's close enough to where a good round tomorrow will give me a chance,' said Mickelson, who was winless in 2003 and wound up a career-low 38th on the money list after three years of finishing second.
The left-hander also led with two rounds to go at the Bob Hope, which he won Sunday for his 22nd title, and has been in the 60s all seven rounds this year.
'I feel very comfortable with the way I'm playing, which I haven't had in a long time,' Mickelson said.
Verplank started one shot ahead of Mickelson and was up by that margin after 16 holes before also finishing with consecutive bogeys. That threw him back with Sluman, who carded a 67, and Kaye, who shot 68.
Masters champion Mike Weir finished the first round Friday morning with a par-saving, 11-foot putt for 65. Then he played the second in 69 to stay within two shots of the lead. He was joined at 134 by Ricky Barnes (67).
Seventy players made the cut at 142 - a sign the course was toughened by lengthening some holes. Last year's cut was at 4 under.
Three-time Phoenix winner Mark Calcavecchia and Paul Azinger, the 1987 champion, shot 66s and easily got in the final field as part of an eight-golfer group at 137.
Defending champion Vijay Singh, a two-time winner, carded a 69 for 140 - in the money by two strokes, and in position to try to extend his run of 10 consecutive top-10 finishes.
Chris DiMarco (2002), Jesper Parnevik (1998) and Lee Janzen (1993) were other Phoenix winners who got in, but Rocco Mediate, the 1999 medalist, was out after back-to-back 72s.
Mickelson birdied the fifth hole with a short putt and the eighth with a 45-footer from the fringe.
But the former Arizona State athlete drew the biggest roar from the gallery with a drive of more than 360 yards on the par-5 13th, followed by a 5-iron shot that stopped within 3 feet of the cup.
Mickelson holed the eagle putt, dropping to 11 under.
Two holes later, he birdied No. 15, a par-5 lengthened by 57 yards last year as part of a PGA effort to toughen the course, for the second straight day. This time, he laid up short of the water encircling the green and dropped a deft wedge within 7 feet.
Mickelson's strength went against him on Nos. 17 and 18, where he drove into bunkers on the right side of the fairway.
He reached the 17th green in good shape, but three-putted, and lost another stroke to par when he chipped onto the final green in three and two-putted.
'I thought I might be able to get the last two birdies and shoot the same score as yesterday (64),' Mickelson said. 'Instead, I followed with two bogeys and shot 68. It's a disappointing finish.'
Verplank played 20 holes of the event without a bogey, then bogeyed two of the next three.
Usually a finesse player, he finished with only seven pars after birdieing six holes and bogeying five. On the last two holes, Verplank missed both greens and two-putted after chips.
'Yesterday was pretty consistent and pretty pain-free, and today was kind of up-and-down,' Verplank said. 'Just hit a good shot, hit a bad shot - that kind of deal - and it wasn't as rhythmic.'
Divots:@ Singh's string of top-10s is the best since Greg Norman had six straight at the end of 1993 and five more in 1994. ... Jose Maria Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion, was 1 under through seven holes in the second round before withdrawing because of a rib injury. For the tournament he was even. ... Friday's attendance, derived by counting vehicles and multiplying by 3.1, was 113,088, second-largest ever for the second round.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - FBR Open

  • Full Coverage - FBR Open

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    Down seven pounds, Thomas can gain No. 1

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:29 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.

    In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.

    “I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.

    After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

    “I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”

    Getty Images

    Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 10:57 pm

    PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.

    Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.

    ''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''

    Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.

    A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.

    Full-field scores from the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

    ''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''

    The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Web.com Tour.

    ''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''

    Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.

    ''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''

    McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.

    ''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''

    Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.

    Getty Images

    Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 10:33 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Ian Poulter was not happy, and it was only partially because of his blowout loss to Kevin Kisner in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    Following his morning victory in the round of 16 over Louis Oosthuizen, the Englishman was incorrectly informed that by making it to the Elite 8 at Austin Country Club he was assured enough Official World Golf Raking points to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters in two weeks.

    “I should never listen to other people,” Poulter said following his 8-and-6 loss to Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals. “When you finish a round of golf and the press and everybody is telling you you're in the Masters, and then you get a text message 10 minutes before you tee off to correct everybody, to say, ‘Oh, we've made a mistake, actually, no, that was wrong, you're not in. You need to go and win.’

    “Not that that's an excuse in any form or factor, it's a little disappointing.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Poulter actually needed to advance to the semifinal round to move into the top 50. Instead, his last chance to qualify for the Masters is to win next week’s Houston Open, although he was unsure if he’d play the event.

    “I don't know yet, I haven't decided,” said Poulter when asked if he’d play next week. “I'm tired. It's been a long week. It's been a draining week. I'll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy then I will.”

    Getty Images

    Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 9:34 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.

    “I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.

    “I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.

    Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.