Mickelson could end Woods reign at No 1

By Doug FergusonMay 25, 2010, 9:30 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It has been 12 years since the creation of the Mark H. McCormack Award, given to the player who has been ranked No. 1 in the world for the most weeks during a calendar year.

Tiger Woods is still the only name engraved on the trophy.

Along with his 14 majors, 82 official victories and more than $100 million in earnings worldwide, Woods’ dominance of his generation is reflected in the world ranking. Dating to the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, he has been at the top 93 percent of the time.

Woods doesn’t stay there forever. He just doesn’t vacate the spot for very long.

David Duval took it away from him by winning The Players Championship in 1999 and stayed there for 14 weeks. Five years later, Vijay Singh replaced Woods at No. 1 by beating him at the TPC Boston for one of his nine victories that year. Singh finished the final four months at No. 1 – not long enough to win the McCormack Award – and didn’t give it back until Woods won the Masters the next April.

Phil Mickelson appears to be next in line.

Phil Mickelson tips his capThe Masters champion needs only to win Colonial this week to become the 13th player to occupy No. 1 since McCormack, the late founder of IMG, devised the ranking system in 1986. Colonial is more meaningful than ever for Mickelson, for it was last year when the tournament staged a “Pink Out” to support his wife, Amy, who had just learned she had breast cancer.

Mickelson has never been No. 1 at anything in a career that has been second to one. Despite his 40 worldwide victories and four majors, he has never won the money list, player of the year, the FedEx Cup, the Vardon Trophy or reached No. 1 in the world.

If it doesn’t happen at Colonial, it figures to happen soon. A change at the top seems inevitable, more because of what’s going on with Woods – chaos in his personal life, back-to-back weeks out of the money for the first time – than with Lefty.

What makes this amazing is how quickly it changed.

Even after Mickelson won the Tour Championship last September, Woods’ average was nearly twice as high.

But the longer Woods stayed away from golf while dealing with the fallout from his infidelity, the more points he lost. Mickelson took a big step by winning at Augusta National, his only victory this year, and finishing second alone at Quail Hollow with a birdie on the last hole.

What makes this different from previous times that Woods gave up the No. 1 ranking is that if Mickelson fails to catch him soon, there’s no shortage of players right behind him.

Lee Westwood of England is No. 3, not quite in range but getting closer. He has finished no worse than third in the last three majors, and he appears to have figured out how to play his best golf in the biggest events. Steve Stricker is No. 4, although Colonial will be his first tournament since the Masters because of a chest injury. Jim Furyk, a two-time winner this year, is next at No. 5.

“Tiger’s performance and schedule and things like that are unpredictable at the moment, aren’t they?” Westwood said last week. “We have all seen that the last few weeks. Phil is obviously a world-class player and has already won a major this year, but you know, his performances are very much up-and-down as well.

“I suppose No. 2 and No. 1 are more achievable than they have been in the last few years.”

Ian Poulter, who is No. 6, was quoted in a British golf magazine a few years ago as saying that when he reaches his potential, it will be him and Woods at the top of the ranking. But is it a given that Woods will be there at the end of the year?

“I can see anybody in the top 10 in the world – if they play great for a spell of three, four months, have a couple of wins and a couple of big finishes – certainly get to the points that Tiger is at now, for sure,” Poulter said.

One thing hasn’t changed. Losing the No. 1 ranking depends more on Woods than the players chasing him.

The other two times Woods lost his No. 1 ranking, he was revamping his game. He won only two tournaments in 1998, and when the changes with Butch Harmon finally took hold, Duval had passed him in the spring of ’99. Woods reclaimed No. 1 for good by winning the PGA Championship that year at Medinah, and he kept it for the next 264 weeks.

Woods was going through a swing change with Hank Haney for most of 2004 when he won only one tournament. Those changes kicked in at the end of that year, and Woods left everyone behind in 2005 with seven victories (including two majors) and five runner-up finishes. He has been No. 1 for 259 consecutive weeks going into the Colonial.

Woods made it sound as though he was going through more swing changes at The Players Championship, and that figures to be the case now that he and Haney no longer are working together. It remains a mystery who – if anyone – will be Woods’ next swing coach.

In the meantime, No. 1 is up for grabs.

Mickelson is in the best position to seize this opportunity. And if it takes Woods more than a year to sort out his personal life and his game, there might finally be another name to be engraved on the McCormack Award.

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Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:28 am

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Arizona grabs last spot with eagle putt, playoff win

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 3:18 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – With her team freefalling in the standings, Arizona coach Laura Ianello was down to her last stroke.

The Wildcats began the final round of the NCAA Championship in third place, but they were 19 over par for the day, and outside the top-8 cut line, with only one player left on the course.

Bianca Pagdaganan had transferred from Gonzaga to compete for NCAA titles, and on the 17th hole Ianello told her that she needed to play “the best two holes of your life” to keep the dream alive.

She made par on 17, then hit a 185-yard 6-iron out of a divot to 30 feet. Not knowing where she stood on the final green, Pagdaganan felt an eerie calm over the ball. Sure enough, she buried the eagle putt, setting off a raucous celebration and sending the Wildcats into a play-five, count-four team playoff with Baylor at 33 over par.

Their match-play spot wasn’t yet secure, but Ianello still broke down in tears.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“Bianca is such an inspiration for all of us,” she said. “She’s the kind of kid that you want to root for, to have good things happen to.”

Arizona prevailed on the second playoff hole. As the 8 seed, the Wildcats will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Karsten Creek.

Though the finish had plenty of drama, no teams played their way into the coveted top 8 on the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

Baylor came closest. The Bears barely advanced past regionals after a mysterious stomach virus affected several players and coaches. They competed in the final round with just four healthy players.

On Monday, Gurleen Kaur put Baylor in position to advance, shooting 68, but the Bears lost by three strokes on the second extra hole.

Arkansas finished one shot shy of the team playoff. The second-ranked Razorbacks, who entered NCAAs as one of the pre-tournament favorites, having won seven times, including their first SEC title, couldn’t overcome a 308-300 start and finished 10th. Player of the Year favorite Maria Fassi finished her week at 19 over par and counted only two rounds toward the team total.