Reed, Mickelson highlight Humana Challenge field

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2015, 10:18 pm

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Patrick Reed left everyone behind last year in the Humana Challenge. This year, he's trying not to get too far ahead of himself.

''That's one thing I'm going to do, hopefully, different this time than I did last time defending,'' said Reed, set to begin his title defense Thursday.

In his first career defense, Reed tied for 24th in the Wyndham Championship in August.

Last year in the desert, Reed shot three 63s to open a seven-shot lead and closed with a 71 for a two-stroke victory. He admitted he was too conservative in the final round after breaking the PGA Tour record for relation to par for the first 54 holes at 27 under, and becoming the first player to open with three rounds of 63 or better.

''Instead of attacking flags like I did the first three days, I started to play to the middle of greens,'' Reed said. ''You need to stick to your game plan and keep firing hard.''

The 24-year-old Reed is coming off a playoff victory over Jimmy Walker two weeks ago in Hawaii in the Tournament of Champions. Reed has four victories in his last 35 Tour starts.

''The confidence is growing and growing,'' Reed said. ''If I have a bad round or if I'm struggling, I still have that confidence level to keep going and turn a 75 into a 72 or a 71.''

He and wife Justine stayed at Kapalua last week for a vacation.

''Worked on my forehead tan,'' Reed joked. ''Seemed like that got more attention than the actual golf game. ... Played like 13 holes, that's it – through the whole week.''

Phil Mickelson is back, too, after skipping the event last year.

Making his first start since the Ryder Cup in September, Lefty stayed away from the three tournament courses before the first round and wasn't available for comment. He played in Ben Crane's charity event Tuesday at the nearby Madison Club and practiced there Wednesday.

Mickelson worked with trainer Sean Cochran during his long offseason.

''I'm getting lighter, developing more core strength and speed and increasing my ball speed,'' Mickelson said on his website.

The 44-year-old Mickelson, the 2002 and 2004 champion, is winless in 27 PGA Tour starts since the 2013 British Open.

''Not winning made it the worst year of my career,'' Mickelson said on his website. ''It was a bad year statistically in all areas.''

The tournament, long known as the Bob Hope Classic, is in the midst of more sweeping changes. Humana is in its final year as the title sponsor and PGA West's Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus private layouts also are dropping out after the event.

''That's a bummer,'' Keegan Bradley said. ''There's a lot of history on those two courses.''

The tournament was shortened from 90 to 72 holes in 2012 and the celebrity portion of the pro-am field was dropped last year, with only a few ''special guests'' left.

The perfect conditions, mountain views and low scores remain, though wind could be a factor.

Temperatures are expected to reach 73 the first two days, with wind at 7-15 mph Thursday and 5-10 mph Friday. Forecasters expect a high of 80 on Saturday with wind gusts of 20 mph, and a high of 83 on Sunday with wind at 7-15 mph. Morning frost is a slight possibility Friday and Saturday.

DIVOTS: Reed and Mickelson will open Thursday at La Quinta Country Club. Reed is paired with Matt Kuchar, and Mickelson will play alongside FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel. ... Kuchar is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 11 in the world. Horschel is 14th, Reed 15th, Mickelson 16th and Zach Johnson 20th. ... Tim Clark withdrew Wednesday. He was replaced by Tyrone Van Aswegen.

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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.

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Goose takes down junior golfer - it's awesome

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:33 pm

A goose evidently went into business for itself somewhere in Michigan and took down this high school golfer in dramatic, hilarious, photographed fashion. To the evidence we go ...

Per the Blissfield Athletics Twitter account, "The golfers just finished teeing off and were walking down the fairway. To the left there was a goose nest and the golfers did a good job of avoiding it but the guard goose hanging out on the far right thought differently."

Just so we can all continue laughing, the Blissfield account confirmed the kid was OK.

If you're looking for related content, check out Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and this video:

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It's official: Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 6:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – The longest-running PGA Tour event still played at its original site has a new title sponsor, one already deeply involved in golf.

The PGA Tour and Colonial Country Club announced Monday that financial services provider Charles Schwab & Co. will take over as title sponsor starting in 2019. The four-year agreement goes through 2022.

Local companies are backing the event after upscale grocer Dean and Deluca withdrew as title sponsor after only two tournaments of a six-year deal. The companies include American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

Charles Schwab is already a major sponsor on the PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour Champions, the Charles Schwab Cup is awarded to the season's top player.

Next month's tournament at Colonial, which has hosted since 1946, will be played as the Fort Worth Invitational.

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Rando withdraws name from Ryder Cup consideration

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:11 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - In a legitimately unexpected move, Stephen Atkinson has removed his name from Ryder Cup consideration, according to a letter leaked by European captain Thomas Bjorn on Monday.

Atkinson, the 52,187th-ranked player in the world and recent winner of the West Hill monthly medal, penned the following letter to Bjorn, removing his name from consideration for September's biennial matches.

Atkinson, who also serves as the Captain of the Babalou Golf Society, immediately squashed speculation that he could instead serve as a vice captain - as Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia have in the past - writing that any such suggestion would be "unfair to both the society and the Ryder Cup team."

The decision leaves Bjorn potentially shorthanded and also appears to have sent him into some sort of existential malaise, the severity of which is not yet known.

Atkinson joins P.J. Willett and Central Standard Time in the Hall of Fame of off-course distractions for a European squad that hasn't lost on its home soil in 25 years.