Notes Who Fills Phils Shoes
The requirements should include at least 10 victories on the PGA Tour. International players are eligible, but only if they have won at least once in the United States, a World Golf Championship or seven European tour money titles. Applicants should be entering their prime, or at least be at the tail end of it.
Don't expect the position to be filled quickly.
No one really paid any attention to the 'best without a major' until Tom Kite languished with the label for nearly 15 years, piling up 16 victories until he finally won the '92 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach when he was 42.
Since then, the torch has been passed to a steady succession of worthy candidates:
-Paul Azinger had 10 victories when he won the '93 PGA Championship at 33.
-Corey Pavin had 12 victories when he won the '95 U.S. Open at 36.
-Davis Love III had 10 victories when he won the '97 PGA Championship at 33.
-Mark O'Meara had 14 victories when he won the '98 Masters at 41.
-David Duval had 12 victories when he won the '01 British Open at 29.
-Mickelson had 22 victories when he won the Masters on Sunday at 33.
Under those guidelines, there aren't any players that stand out as the best without a major. None will be hounded about the burden at every major, or reminded of it every time he wins on the PGA Tour.
The only players worthy of consideration are John Cook, 46, and Scott Hoch, 48, each with 11 victories and close calls in the majors, and Jay Haas, whose ninth and the most recent PGA Tour victory was in 1993.
Kenny Perry is 43, but he has only six victories, three of them during a three-month stretch last year.
The most likely candidates are overseas.
Padraig Harrington of Ireland is No. 8 in the world rankings, but he still hasn't won on the PGA Tour and his 18 runner-up finishes on the European tour leaves him with more to prove.
Darren Clarke has captured two World Golf Championships - he beat Tiger Woods at the Match Play and won last year at the NEC Invitational. Still, he has contended on the back nine at a major only twice in the last seven years.
The focus tends to shift to youth - Adam Scott (23) and Sergio Garcia (24).
Scott won The Players Championship, then missed the cut in his next two events and shot 80 in the first round of the Masters. Garcia has won only three times in the five years he has been playing the PGA Tour.
They have not been around long enough to warrant the tag, and it would be unfair to ask them why they haven't won a major for at least another four years.
Drama by Design
So much for those fears that the redesign at Augusta National took away the drama.
There were 12 eagles in the final round of the Masters, nine of them on the par 5s. Clearly, officials set the course up to allow for a Sunday charge, and for big numbers if anyone got too careless.
'They wanted to see a run,' Davis Love III said. 'We heard that was their strategy, for the course to play hard Thursday, hard Friday and easy Sunday. That's what they got.'
Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and 19-year-old Casey Wittenberg each shot a 31 on the back nine.
Then again, Len Mattiace shot 32 on the back nine last year despite a bogey on the 18th hole when the course was still drying out and played long.
Checking in with the Big Wiesy
The U.S. Golf Association changed its rules a couple of years ago to allow amateurs to receive free equipment from manufacturers without losing their amateur status.
Still, there is a lot of attention on 14-year-old Michelle Wie, who is playing more tournament golf than Greg Norman. Sports agents and equipment reps are starting to show up whenever she plays.
Because of the increasing scrutiny, USGA executive director David Fay recently went to Hawaii to meet with Wie and her parents about the trappings of being a high-profile prodigy.
Fay declined to talk about his meeting, saying only that he also met with Tiger Woods and his father long before he turned pro in 1996.
B.J. Wie said through e-mail, 'Our meeting did not have any specific topics to discuss. We just got to know each other better. David was very kind in explaining some of the USGA amateur rules to us.'
Sergio Garcia had one of the most exciting finishes at the Masters. He played his final 11 holes in 8 under par, going eagle-birdie-birdie and watching his birdie putt on the 18th come within an inch of falling.
But instead of celebrating the best score of the tournament (66) and his best finish at the Masters (tie for fourth), Garcia offered bitter remarks to reporters, complaining that 'you guys only look at a handful of players.'
'When we're playing well, we're the best,' he said. 'And even if we're playing well and things are not going our way, we can be shocking. So, it's nice to see how fair you guys are.'
Arnold Palmer never lost hope.
During his final round at the Masters, the King had to wait for the 15th fairway to clear. Looking at the masses around him, Palmer leaned over to Bob Estes and said wistfully, 'Four more holes.'
Then, Palmer leaned over to him again with that daring grin.
'Birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie,' he said.
Donations from players, captains and their assistants at the Presidents Cup has resulted in $210,000 going to the South African Golf Development Board to help draw more people to golf. ... K.J. Choi of South Korea usually has a translator at his side for interviews, but he agreed to speak in English for the television cameras after his second round at the Masters. The words were slightly fractured, but he came across well. ... How's this for exclusive company: Phil Mickelson joins Mike Weir, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as the only players to win the Bob Hope Classic and the Masters in the same year. Does that make the Hope the fifth major?
Stat of the Week
There were 55 birdies on the 18th hole in the 2001 Masters. Since the redesign, there have been 48 birdies on the 18th hole the last three years combined.
'He's doing it with three kids. We haven't even got a ring on Tiger.' - Jack Burke Jr., on Phil Mickelson's career.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Ko (68) off to best start of year at Kia Classic
Lydia Ko didn’t take long to put last week’s missed cut behind her Thursday at the Kia Classic.
She got off to her best start of the year.
With a 4-under-par 68, Ko was tied for seventh, just two shots off the lead, with the afternoon wave off at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif.
“I would say I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key,” Ko said.
Ko scrambled her way to her low opening round of the year in light rain. She hit just seven of 14 fairways and 11 greens, but only needed 25 putts.
“This is a pretty tough golf course,” Ko said. ”I think putting is a huge key around this course, where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.”
Aviara’s poa annua greens have been known to give players fits, but Ko had her flatstick working. After making the turn at 1 over, she made five birdies on her second nine.
Ko, 20, won at Aviara two years ago but missed the cut there last year.
“I love Carlsbad,” Ko said “I would say it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s nice to come back to a place where you’ve played well and love the area.”
Ko, seeking her first victory since July of 2016, has her new coach, Ted Oh, working with her in Carlsbad this week. Oh made the trip to Asia last month, helping Ko to her tie for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. But, she missed the cut in Phoenix last week in her next start.
“All I can do is try my best,” Ko said. “Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this good momentum going.”
Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 2
Here is how things played out on Day 2 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play. Click here for Day 1 match results:
Group 1: Adam Hadwin (38) def. Dustin Johnson (1), 4 and 3: After a dominating performance at last year’s Match Play, where he never trailed in any match, Johnson is already mathematically eliminated. He got routed on Thursday by Hadwin, after the Canadian built a 2-up lead at the turn and then poured it on with wins on the 11th and 13th holes.
Group 1: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Bernd Wiesberger (52), 5 and 4: Kisner made three consecutive birdies midway through the front nine to set the tone, then kept the pressure on Wiesberger, who knocked off DJ on Wednesday, to earn the full point and stay in the mix to advance.
Group 2: Justin Thomas (2) def. Patton Kizzire (48), 3 and 1: After DJ’s early exit, Thomas now has a clear path to world No. 1, if he can win the Match Play this week. Thomas did his part, improving to 2-0 after taking a 3-up advantage and then making birdie on 16 and 17 to close out Kizzire. That sets up a winner-take-all match against Francesco Molinari on Friday.
Group 2: Francesco Molinari (21) def. Luke List (60), 3 and 2: Molinari dropped seven birdies on List and won the 13th, 14th and 16th holes to move to 2-0 this week.
Group 3: Chez Reavie (43) def. Jon Rahm, 1 up: On the verge of surrendering a big lead against Rahm, Reavie’s par on 18 was enough to secure a 1-up victory. He led 3 up with three to go, but Rahm birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to send the match to the last. But there, from just short of the green, Rahm hit his pitch shot well past the flag and couldn’t make birdie. Now 0-1-1, Rahm, last year's finalist, is now eliminated.
Group 3: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Keegan Bradley (63), 1 up: Bradley once again kicked away a late lead. One day after coughing up a 2-up lead with three to play, he squandered a 1-up lead with three to play against Aphibarnrat. Bradley made bogey on 17, then was stymied behind a tree after his drive on 18. Barnrat rolled in a 15-footer for birdie to improve to 2-0.
Group 4: Jordan Spieth (4) def. Haotong Li (34), 4 and 2: Spieth held up his end of the deal, winning the fifth hole with a birdie and never trailing from there. He poured it on late with the Chinese star, winning the 13th, 14th and 16th holes. He'll play Reed, his Ryder and Presidents Cup partner, on Friday in a winner-take-all match.
Group 4: Patrick Reed (19) def. Charl Schwartzel (49), 1 up: In a wild match that saw that only three halved, Reed hung on to defeat Schwartzel, 1 up. Two up with three holes to play, Reed lost the 16th, escaped with a bogey halve on the 17th and then was out of position on the final hole. But he nearly holed his wedge shot, rattling the stick and leaving his ball on the front edge for a conceded birdie and narrow victory.
Group 5: Cameron Smith (46) def. Hideki Matsuyama (5), 1 up: One down with five to play, Smith won the 14th with a par, then chipped in for birdie on 16 to take a 1-up lead. At 2-0, he’s now in control of the group.
Group 5: Patrick Cantlay (30) def. Yusaku Miyazato (53), 1 up: In control throughout, Cantlay bogeyed the 17th hole to return the match to all square. On the home hole, he busted a drive to the front-left corner of the green, then made birdie to win and improve to 1-1.
Group 6: Rory McIlroy (6) def. Jhonattan Vegas (44), 2 and 1: Needing a victory to avoid an early exit, McIlroy won two consecutive holes before the turn and then added a win on 13 to give himself the cushion he needed down the stretch, holing a 6-footer for par on 17 to close out Vegas. McIlroy now has a chance to advance with a victory over Harman on the final day of pool play.
Group 6: Brian Harman (18) def. Peter Uihlein (57), 4 and 2: Harman never trailed in knocking off Uihlein, who soundly defeated McIlroy on Day 1. With 1 ½ points, Harman is in the driver’s seat, but he needs at least a halve against McIlroy on Friday (and a Uihlein loss) to advance.
Group 7: Sergio Garcia (7) def. Dylan Frittelli (41), 2 up: All square with six holes to go, Garcia birdied 13, won 14 with a par and then drove the 18th green for a conceded birdie to close out Frittelli, the former Texas Longhorn, and improve to 2-0 this week. He'll play Schauffele in a winner-take-all match on Friday.
Group 7: Xander Schauffele (20) def. Shubhankar Sharma (62), 3 and 1: Schauffele improved to 2-0 this week by thoroughly handling Sharma, the darling of the recent WGC-Mexico event, never leading by fewer than 2-up on the back nine and playing 3 under.
Group 8: Jason Dufner (42) def. Jason Day (8), 3 and 1: Dufner took down one of the pre-tournament favorites with a steady closing stretch. Five of his six wins came after Day bogeys, but Dufner turned an all-square match on 14 tee into a 3-and-1 victory.
Group 8: James Hahn (56) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 3 and 1: Hahn jumped all over the South African, winning the first three holes and never holding less than a 2-up lead on the back nine. With his victory, each player in the group has a 1-1 record.
Group 9: Tommy Fleetwood (9) def. Kevin Chappell (33), 7 and 6: Avenging an opening-day loss, the Englishman won the first four holes and needed to make only three birdies in a monster rout of Chappell. The 2017 Presidents Cupper made five bogeys and conceded two other holes but still has a chance to win the group.
Group 9: Ian Poulter (58) def. Daniel Berger (26), 2 and 1: Playing this event for the first time since 2015, Poulter improved to 2-0 on the week with a solid victory over Berger, one of many young American up-and-comers. Using the same putter that he put in play at the epic 2012 Ryder Cup, Poulter won three of the first four holes and never backed down. He is guaranteed at least a playoff Friday.
Group 10: Paul Casey (10) def. Kyle Stanley (45), 4 and 2: A winner at the Valspar, Casey stayed hot in Austin, taking a 3-up lead at the turn and improving to 2-0 this week. He needs only a halve on Friday to advance.
Group 10: Russell Henley (51) def. Matthew Fitzpatrick (31), 2 and 1: Shaking off a narrow loss to Casey on Wednesday, Henley took control of an all-square match by winning the 12th and 14th holes and then rolling in a tricky 25-footer on the 17th green to put away Fitzpatrick. Still alive in pool play, Henley needs to beat Kyle Stanley, and hope Casey loses, to force a playoff.
Group 11: Bubba Watson (35) def. Marc Leishman (11), 3 and 2: Coming off an impressive opening victory, Watson erased an early deficit, then won Nos. 12-14 to put away Leishman, who is now eliminated. Watson is guaranteed at least a playoff Friday.
Group 11: Branden Grace (23) def. Julian Suri (64), 2 and 1: After a shaky start, Grace made four birdies over his last 11 holes to knock off the surprise Day 1 winner, Suri, who was the last man into the field. Watson is still in control of the group heading into the final day.
Group 12: Tyrrell Hatton (12) def. Brendan Steele (36), 3 and 2: All square through 12 holes, the Englishman made four birdies and an eagle over his last eight holes to improve to 2-0 this week. Hatton needs only a halve Friday to advance.
Group 12: Alexander Levy (55) def. Charley Hoffman (22), 1 up: Levy led from the sixth hole, but Hoffman slowly cut into the deficit and took the Frenchman to the final hole. Levy’s par was enough to notch his first point and stay alive in pool play.
Group 13: Alex Noren (13) def. Thomas Pieters (39), 5 and 4: Noren made quick work of Pieters in what could be a match of future Ryder Cup teammates. Noren built a 4-up lead after seven holes and then cruised from there, moving to 2-0 this week and eliminating Pieters. In 30 holes this week, Noren has made 12 birdies and no bogeys.
Group 13: Tony Finau (29) def. Kevin Na (61), 3 and 2: In a contrast of styles, the powerful Finau birdied the first three holes and never looked back against Na, setting up a battle of unbeatens in a winner-take-all match on Friday.
Group 14: Phil Mickelson (14) def. Satoshi Kodaira (40), 1 up: Four down through seven holes, Mickelson was on the verge of being eliminated before running off a series of wins, including on 16 and 17 to push the match to the final hole. Then, on 18, he pitched to 8 feet and drained the birdie putt to complete the remarkable comeback.
Group 14: Charles Howell III (59) def. Rafa Cabrera Bello (17), 3 and 1: After knocking off Mickelson on Day 1, Howell pulled away from Cabrera Bello late, winning the 14th, 15th and 17th holes – only one of which with birdies – to take control of the lead. At 2-0, Howell is assured of at least a playoff.
Group 15: Webb Simpson (37) def. Pat Perez (15), 3 and 1: Matched up against the fiery Perez, Simpson seized control of the match with wins on the 11th and 12th holes, sank a 20-footer on 15 and then won the 17th after Perez put his tee shot in the hazard. Now 1-0-1, he’ll have a winner-take-all match against Kim on Friday.
Group 15: Si Woo Kim (50) def. Gary Woodland (24), 5 and 3: Kim won the first hole and never looked back, grabbing a 3-up lead at the turn and leading by as much as 5 up after 12 holes. He is now 2-0.
Group 16: Matt Kuchar (16) def. Yuta Ikeda (47), 1 up: Though he wasn’t nearly as hot as in his opener against Johnson, Kuchar played solidly, going 3 under (including concessions) and making par on 17 to edge ahead of Ikeda and eke out a narrow victory.
Group 16: Ross Fisher (27) def. Zach Johnson (54), 2 up: After a remarkable comeback against Kuchar to earn a halve on Day 1, Johnson couldn’t summon the same magic on Thursday. Though he won the 15th to cut Fisher’s advantage to 1 up, Johnson couldn’t convert birdie putts on the last three holes.
Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.
|Group 1||Group 2||Group 3||Group 4|
|(1) D. Johnson: 0-2-0||(2) J. Thomas: 2-0-0||(3) J. Rahm: 0-1-1||(4) J. Spieth: 2-0-0|
|(32) K. Kisner: 1-0-1||(21) F. Molinari: 2-0-0||(28) K. Aphibarnrat: 2-0-0||(19) P. Reed: 2-0-0|
|(38) A. Hadwin: 1-0-1
||(48) P. Kizzire: 0-2-0||(43) C. Reavie: 1-1-0||(34) H. Li: 0-2-0|
|(52) B. Wiesberger: 1-1-0
||(60) L. List: 0-2-0||(63) K. Bradley: 0-1-1||(49) C. Schwartzel: 0-2-0|
|Group 5||Group 6||Group 7||Group 8|
|(5) H. Matsuyama: 1-1-0||(6) R. McIlroy: 1-1-0||(7) S. Garcia: 2-0-0||(8) J. Day: 1-1-0|
|(30) P. Cantlay: 1-1-0
||(18) B. Harman: 1-0-1||(20) X. Schauffele: 2-0-0||(25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-1-0|
|(46) C. Smith: 2-0-0||(44) J. Vegas: 0-1-1||(41) D. Frittelli: 0-2-0||(42) J. Dufner: 1-1-0|
|(53) Y. Miyazato: 0-2-0||(51) P. Uihlein: 1-1-0||(62) S. Sharma: 0-2-0||(56) J. Hahn: 1-1-0|
|Group 9||Group 10||Group 11||Group 12|
|(9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0||(10) P. Casey: 2-0-0||(11) M. Leishman: 0-2-0||(12) T. Hatton: 2-0-0|
|(26) D. Berger: 0-2-0||(31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-2-0||(23) B. Grace: 1-1-0||(22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0|
|(33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0||(45) K. Stanley: 1-1-0||(35) B. Watson: 2-0-0||(36) B. Steele: 1-1-0|
|(58) I. Poulter: 2-0-0||(51) R. Henley: 1-1-0||(64) J. Suri: 1-1-0||(55) A. Levy: 0-1-0|
|Group 13||Group 14||Group 15||Group 16|
|(13) A. Noren: 2-0-0||(14) P. Mickelson: 1-1-0||(15) P. Perez: 0-1-1||(16) M. Kuchar: 1-0-1|
|(29) T. Finau: 2-0-0||(17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-1-0||(24) G. Woodland: 0-1-1||(27) R. Fisher: 1-1-0|
|(39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0||(40) S. Kodaira: 0-2-0||(37) W. Simpson: 1-0-1||(47) Y. Ikeda: 1-1-0|
|(61) K. Na: 0-2-0||(59) C. Howell III: 2-0-0||(50) S.W. Kim: 1-0-1||(54) Z. Johnson: 0-1-1|
Players lament 'meaningless' Friday WGC matches
AUSTIN, Texas – The drawback of round-robin play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is that 20 players will tee off on Friday with no chance to advance to the knockout stages.
Although those who haven’t won or halved a match heading into the final day of pool play can still improve their finish, which means more FedExCup points and earnings, they can’t make it to the weekend, which for many makes it somewhat meaningless.
“Knowing that you are playing a match that you might get 2 more FedEx points and $20,000 or whatever it is. It's tough. It's hard,” said Rory McIlroy, who is 1-1-0 and can advance to the weekend if he wins his match on Friday against Brian Harman.
“You try to go out with the mindset that I'm going to maybe try things or if you are working on your golf swing, it's a good round to take advantage of trying different things,” McIlroy said. “[But] there's going to be guys going out there tomorrow that would really just want to be on a plane tonight going home.”
Even more curious, there will be players with no way of moving on who will dictate who does make it to the weekend. Matthew Fitzpatrick, for example, is winless this week and will play Paul Casey on Friday. If Fitzpatrick wins it will set up a playoff scenario between Casey, who is 2-0-0, and either Russell Henley or Kyle Thompson, who both have one victory, to decide who advances out of the pod.
“It's not technically meaningless,” Casey said. “But it's frustrating when you know you can't possibly win the golf event. None of us turn up here to gain some points. It's to try and win an event.”