Lefty starts slow; Yang, Watson share Rd. 1 lead

By Associated Press, Doug FergusonJanuary 31, 2014, 12:31 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Phil Mickelson's back was better than his game Thursday in the Phoenix Open.

Returning to play after withdrawing from Torrey Pines last Friday night because of back pain, Mickelson opened his title defense with an even-par 71 at TPC Scottsdale. That left him seven strokes behind leaders Bubba Watson and Y.E. Yang.

''My back is fine. My game was a little rusty,'' Mickelson said. ''I got off to a poor start, played a couple over, and finished poorly. In the middle of the round, though, I hit a lot of good shots and had a good little run, but it just wasn't quite sharp. I wasn't quite focused on every shot the way I need to be and let way too many shots slide.''

Mickelson first felt soreness in his back two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, and pulled out of his hometown event in San Diego after making the 36-hole cut. He flew to Georgia to see back specialist Tom Boers and was told his facet joints locked up.

''It's fine. Honestly, it's no big deal,'' Mickelson said. ''It was a five-minute fix. I just have to be careful for a week or two as it heals up. It's fine. Mobility is back. It's just not a big deal. ... It happens every now and then. Last time was about four years ago.''


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Mickelson had a double bogey on the par-3 12th – his third hole of the morning round – after hitting into the left-side water. He made 20-foot birdie putts on the next two holes, but three-putted for par on the par-5 15th after hitting a hybrid pin-high from 245 yards.

''Fifteen really stung,'' Mickelson said. ''It was only a 12- or 15-footer, and I am thinking eagle. I roll it 6 feet by and I miss it coming back. That was costly.

Lefty got to 3 under with birdies on Nos. 17, 1 and 4, then bogeyed three of his last five holes. He three-putted the par-4 fifth – missing from 5 1/2 and 3 1/2 feet – and failed to get-up-down for par after finding greenside bunkers on Nos. 7 and 9.

''I threw away a lot of shots,'' Mickelson said. ''I made some careless swings. Hitting it in the water on 12 was just pathetic. Playing the last five holes at 3 over, when I had the round going, was really bad.''

He hit five of 14 fairways, 11 greens in regulation and had 30 putts.

''I wasn't as sharp as I need to be, for sure,'' Mickelson said.

In his victory last year, he opened with a 60 – lipping out a birdie putt on the final hole – and matched the tournament record at 28-under 256. The 43-year-old former Arizona State star is making his 25th appearance in the event that he also won in 1996 and 2005.

''It's fun to be back here,'' Mickelson said. ''I love playing here.''

Watson and Yang shot 64.

Watson birdied four of the final six holes. The 2012 Masters champion had eight birdies and a bogey in the afternoon session.

''This golf course, if your ball-striking is good, you can shoot some good numbers here,'' Watson said after hitting 17 greens in regulation. ''Hit a lot of greens, didn't make too many mistakes, didn't miss too many fairways. Just played solid.''

Yang birdied the final two holes. The 2009 PGA winner also had eight birdies and a bogey, playing the back nine in 6-under 30 in his morning round.

''I think you have to be aggressive,'' the South Korean player said through a translator. ''At the same time, you can't be too aggressive. ... You have to really balance it out, but you still have to be a little bit more aggressive than other tournaments.''

Scottsdale residents Pat Perez, Kevin Stadler and Matt Jones were a stroke back at 65 along with Harris English, William McGirt, Greg Chalmers and Chris Kirk.

Perez had five straight birdies and seven in a nine-hole stretch. The former Arizona State player tied for second Sunday at Torrey Pines in his hometown event.

''I knew I was going to hit it good,'' Perez said. ''I hit it great on the range.''

English birdied Nos. 12-15 to top the leaderboard at 8 under, but bogeyed the par-3 16th – the rowdy stadium hole – and the par-4 18th.

He hit an 8-iron over the green on the 178-yard 16th.

''I guess I was a little juiced up on that tee,'' English said. ''I left myself with an impossible up-and-down.''

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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.



Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.