A new world order at this World Golf Championship

By Associated PressMarch 10, 2011, 9:11 am

DORAL, Fla. (AP)—The top three players in the world ranking will be in thesame group for the opening two rounds of the Cadillac Championship, the secondtime in five weeks for such a glamorous 1-2-3 punch. There is on notablesubstitution.

Luke Donald is in.

Tiger Woods is out.

And for most fans at Doral for this World Golf Championship, the main eventwill be one notch down the ranking for Woods, Phil Mickelson and GraemeMcDowell .

Donald moved up to No. 3 two weeks ago in Arizona when he captured thebiggest win of his career at the Match Play Championship. That puts himalongside Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood when the Cadillac Championship getsunder way Thursday on the Blue Monster.

Donald doesn’t obsess over the ranking, although it’s hard to dismiss onefact.

“There’s only two players ranked higher than me in the world right now, andthat’s pretty amazing to think about,” Donald said.

Even more amazing—Woods isn’t among them.

He had been No. 1 for more than five years until his shocking fall, on andoff the golf course. Westwood was the first to replace Woods at the end ofOctober, and then Kaymer replaced Westwood with his runner-up finish at theMatch Play.

McDowell took over at No. 4, pushing Woods down to his lowest level sincethe week before he won the 1997 Masters.

Even so, there’s always something special about Woods and Mickelson,particularly at Doral.

They are the top two players of their generations, supported by the recordalone. Woods has 82 victories around the world, including 14 majors. Mickelsonis at 40 worldwide wins with four majors.

Their combined 18 majors is equal to the rest of the 69-man field at Doralcombined.

“We don’t get paired together very often,” Woods said.

This will be the 27th time that Woods and Mickelson have been the samegroup, and only the fifth time it took place on Thursday and Friday of atournament. The last three were either majors (2008 U.S. Open, 2006 PGAChampionship), or a FedEx Cup playoff event (2007 Deutsche Bank Championship).

Mickelson, who played Augusta National on Tuesday, rested on the day beforeDoral. His caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, walked the course and met up with Woodsearly in his practice round.

“Bones and I were on the golf course today and trying to remember the lasttime it happened in a non-major,” Woods said of their pairing. “And he thoughtit was in ’98. So obviously, we don’t get to do it very often.”

That was the 1998 Nissan Open, the year it moved from Riviera to Valencia,the only time a Woods-Mickelson weekday pairing was done by a blind draw. Andthat streak continues, for there was nothing blind about this one.

The PGA Tour has been tweaking its pairings this year to make forinteresting stories on television, perhaps to attract more viewers when it getsto the network coverage on the weekend.

Woods and Mickelson figured to be put together at some point, and it wascoincidence that they were next to each other in the ranking. The twist is thatneither is among the new “Big Three,” at least at the moment.

They first played together at Doral in the final round of 2005 when it was aregular PGA Tour event, and a sold-out crowd that approached some 50,000 turnedthe Blue Monster into a rock concert.

Mickelson took a two-shot lead into the final round, only for Woods to rallyand take a one-shot lead into the final hole. Mickelson’s chip from just off thegreen to force a playoff caught the lip, and Woods won to return to No. 1 in theworld.

A year later, they were in the final group of the third round when Woodsshot 68 and took the lead, leaving Mickelson four shots behind. Woods went on towin the next day.

It was part of three straight wins at Doral, although victories haven’t beenpiling up for Woods in the last few years. He now has gone 15 months since hislast win at the Australian Masters, right before his personal life imploded onThanksgiving night with the revelation of extramarital affairs.

Mickelson, meanwhile, has not won since the Masters.

Who could have imagined that Woods and Mickelson would have one victorybetween them over the last 15 months?

Woods has not shown many signs that he is close to regaining his form, andthe venue doesn’t help like it once did. He had won five straight times atTorrey Pines, then finished out of the top 10 for the first time ever. He hadnever finished out of the top 10 at Dubai, and wound up fading on Sunday into atie for 20th.

Woods might continue to fall in the ranking if he doesn’t start playingbetter. As for no longer being No. 1?

“It’s about winning golf tournaments, and I haven’t done that,” Woodssaid. “There’s no reason for me to be up there at the top. You have to win golftournaments and you have to do it consistently. Lee did it, Martin’s done it,and that’s what it takes.”

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Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.

Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath. 

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Woods would 'love' to see Tour allow shorts

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:59 pm

Players on the European Tour are allowed to wear shorts during practices and pro-ams.

The PGA of America permitted players to show some leg while prepping for last year’s PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods would like to see the PGA Tour follow suit.

"I would love it," he said Thursday in a Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf. "We play in some of the hottest climates on the planet. We usually travel with the sun, and a lot of our events are played in the summer, and then on top of that when we have the winter months here a lot of the guys go down to South Africa and Australia where it's summer down there.

"It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

Caddies are currently allowed to wear shorts on Tour, during events.

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Feasting again: McIlroy shoots 65 to lead BMW PGA

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Rory McIlroy made seven birdies and no bogeys on Friday for a 7-under 65 and the second-round lead at the BMW PGA Championship.

After opening in 67, McIlroy was among the early groups out on Day 2 at Wentworth Club. He made three birdies and no bogeys on the par-35 front nine on Friday, and then went on a run after the turn.

McIlroy made four consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-5 12th. That got him to 12 under, overall, and gave him a clear advantage over the field. With two closing par-5s, a very low number was in sight. But, as he did on Day 1, McIlroy finished par-par.

"I've made four pars there [on 17 and 18] when I really should be making at least two birdies, but I played the other par-5s well," McIlroy said. "It all balances itself out."

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

McIlroy has made 14 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds. At 12 under, he has a three-stroke lead over Sam Horsfield.

"The work has paid off, to some degree," McIlroy said of his practice with swing coach Michael Bannon. "I still feel like I'm hitting some loose shots out there. But, for the most part, it's been really good. If I can keep these swing thoughts and keep going in the right direction, hopefully this is the type of golf I'll be able to produce."

This event has been feast or famine for McIlroy. He won here in 2014, but has three missed cuts in his other three starts. This week, however, he’ll be around for the weekend and is in position for his first European Tour victory since the 2016 Irish Open and his second worldwide victory of the year (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

"I have the confidence that I'm playing well and I can go out and try to just replicate what I did the day before," McIlroy said about his weekend approach with the lead. "On the first tee box tomorrow I'll be thinking about what I did today. Trying to just keep the same thoughts, make the same swings. I went a couple better today than I did yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep that progression going but something similiar tomorrow would be nice."

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."