Notes Leftys Wild Idea Tigers Dog Taz

By Associated PressApril 4, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Masters is bringing out the metal in just about everyone.
 
For Phil Mickelson, that means two drivers.

With an eye on Augusta National, Mickelson put two drivers in his bag during the BellSouth Classic. It worked so well, he said he would try it at the Masters.
 
'It's a big promo Callaway and I are doing now -- the only thing better than one FT-3 is two FT-3s,' Mickelson said with a laugh.
 
But it's not quite the same club.
 
One driver is an inch longer, and allows him to hit a power draw that moves from left to right. At the BellSouth Classic, he flew the green on the 13th hole, a short par, which he had never been able to do. The other driver allows him to hit a controlled fade, the shot Mickelson relied heavily on when he won the Masters two years ago.
 
'There are a number of holes where you can move the ball left-to-right and have it be very effective,' Mickelson said. 'I can hit a little controlled cut on the holes where distance isn't as big of a factor. And I can use the draw driver and get a little extra pop on some holes. It's nice having that little extra punch.'
 
Mickelson began experimenting with a longer club during the West Coast Swing, but he could only hit the draw. He tinkered with the internal weighting of the club, and found a unique solution.
 
'I used the internal weighting to take the left side out of play so it draws, and I use the other driver to take the right side out of play,' Mickelson said. 'So now I just play with half the trouble.'
 
With a 14-club limit, that means he'll have to take another club out of the bag.
 
Mickelson says the sand wedge is out of the rotation -- he still has a lob wedge, gap wedge and pitching wedge. With the extra driver, he said he would take out the 3-iron or 4-iron, or perhaps the 7-iron or 8-iron, depending on the conditions.
 
Tiger Woods was asked if he ever carried two drivers.
 
'Well, one driver in two pieces, but that's about it,' he said.
 
Ernie Els, meanwhile, is using a 5-wood for the 240-yard fourth hole. Els usually carries a 2-iron, and he was asked the last time he used a 5-wood in competition.
 
'I think I was in junior golf,' Els said.
 
He has been working on a 5-wood from Titleist for the last week, realizing the extra height will come in handy.
 
'Ever since I played here three or four weeks ago, I could see a 5-wood
 
A DOG'S DAY
Tiger Woods' father is battling cancer. He is the defending champion. The course has been changed again, with six holes playing longer. And the first question presented to Woods at his press conference was?
 
Why did his wife buy him a border collie for Christmas?
 
Woods named the dog Taz, short for Tasmania, and he brought it with him to The Players Championship.
 
'As everyone knows, I'm a pretty active guy,' Woods said. 'Taking my little buddy out there on runs is awfully fun. Unfortunately, his pace is a little bit faster than mine, so I've had to learn how to pick it up. He just loves to run all day. Sometimes it can be a bit annoying. But most of the time, it's pretty cool.'
 
ON THE MEND
Chris DiMarco skipped The Players Championship because of a rib injury suffered while skiing, but says he is about 90 percent healthy and expects no problems this week.
 
DiMarco had his sunglasses and cell phone in a back pack, making his last run, when a couple of skiers emerged out of the trees and were headed in his direction. He tried to avoid them, rolled on his back, and one of the items in his pack gouged into his side.
 
He missed the cut last week in Atlanta, attributing that more to rust.
 
'My foot started hurting because I was not putting much pressure on that side of my body,' he said. 'I feel like I'm 90 percent, 95 percent, and hopefully by Thursday, I'll be 100 percent.'
 
Any more skiing vacations in his future?
 
'Golf is my job, but I'm going to live my life,' he said. 'It was a very fluky thing. I could have walked out of my garage and tripped over my kid's baseball helmet and banged up my knee. I'm going to keep going skiing.'
 
ARNIE'S VIEW
Arnold Palmer is not wild about the changes to Augusta National, particularly the par-4 11th. What bothers him more than the additional 15 yards that puts it at 505 yards, is the 50 or so pine trees planted down the right side of the fairway.
 
And not because of the penalty, but the gallery.
 
Palmer believes the trees restrict the view of the fans who want to follow the flight of the ball to the green, which is guarded by a pond on the left. And it reminded him of one year when he won the Masters.
 
'I drove it to the left-center of the fairway, and I had to go to the bathroom,' he said. 'I walked down (to the left) into the woods and took a leak. And when I came out of the woods, the gallery gave me a standing ovation. They all clapped and raised hell. 'Everything came out all right, Arnie?' They were having fun. And I was playing good.'
 
He noticed a different kind of change the next year.
 
'There was an outhouse,' Palmer said. 'Cliff Roberts built a john, which is still there.'
 
AUGUSTA NEWCOMER
The 23-year-old man was making his first trip to Augusta National, and a special badge allowed him on the course a few minutes before everyone else, giving him enough time to watch Tiger Woods without fighting the masses.
 
'This place is beautiful,' he said with wonder in his voice.
 
There are thousands like him at Augusta National, but what made this remarkable was the name on his badge.
 
Michael Watson, the son of two-time Masters champion Tom Watson.
 
'There was always a conflict,' he said when asked why he never made it to the Masters until this week. 'I've been to the British Open a lot, and a couple of U.S. Opens. I love the British Open.'
 
And he was quickly falling in love with the Masters, where his dad won in 1977 and 1981.
 
His father gave him the full treatment, inviting Michael to play a practice round with him on Sunday, the final day members could play before the tournament.
 
DIVOTS
The longest line of the week is not for the merchandise tent. The gates open at 7 a.m., but spectators are not allowed on the golf course until 8 a.m. There were some 2,000 people crammed behind a wooden barricade at 7:45 a.m., watching Tiger Woods go up the first fairway, looking at their watches. Fifteen minutes later, from a distance, they looked like ants streaming across the course, heading in Woods' direction. ... Callaway Golf is having its staff players use a special golf bag in green and white, with yellow trim.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
The 21 countries represented in the field is a record for the Masters.
 
FINAL WORD
'A lot more confident than had I missed the cut.' -- Phil Mickelson, asked how confident he was about the Masters after winning in Atlanta by 13 shots.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 70th Masters Tournament
     
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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”