Mickelson Harrington to battle at Hogans Alley

By Doug FergusonFebruary 4, 2010, 6:02 am
Northern Trust OpenLOS ANGELES – No one is about to change the nickname to Phil’s Place or Lefty’s Lane.

Riviera has been known as “Hogan’s Alley” for more than a half-century after Ben Hogan turned this fabled course along Sunset Boulevard into his personal playground. He won the Los Angeles Open in consecutive years, and won twice in one season in 1948 when he added a U.S. Open victory.

But no one – not Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson or Fred Couples – has ever won at Riviera three straight years. That’s what Phil Mickelson will set out to do when the Northern Trust Open begins Thursday.

“I don’t have a good explanation for it,” Mickelson said.

And to think he was only a good chip away from already having won three straight years. Mickelson only needed a par on the 18th hole to win at Riviera in 2007 until he hit a chip that came out flat and missed an 18-foot putt. Charles Howell beat him in a playoff.

Mickelson won the next two years, comfortably in 2008 and with a strong finish last year to beat Steve Stricker.

Strangely enough, Mickelson used to avoid this place earlier in his career because he wasn’t getting very good results. Now, he can’t wait to get to Riviera.

The only question is what kind of game he brings.

Mickelson, who ended last year with victories in the Tour Championship and HSBC Champions in Shanghai, couldn’t wait to get started this year. Perhaps he was too excited. He felt nerves of anticipation, lost some of his timing and never seriously threatened at Torrey Pines, where he finished 19th.

He had talked about his driving going from a liability to a weapon, then walked to the tee for his pro-am and hit his tee shot on the next fairway, offering a sheepish grin. His tee shots never improved during the week, and one got stuck in a tree.

As he played the pro-am late Wednesday afternoon at Riviera, Mickelson offered one reason.

After the tournament, he pulled the head of his driver off the shaft and noticed the inside of the shaft had been cracked so badly that it was about five swings away from shattering.

Then again, after sharing that story and how he has it fixed, he sent a tee shot on the third hole into the left rough.

Even so, Mickelson is excited to get started this week, hopeful that the focus returns to his golf.

The world’s No. 2 player was in the news quite a bit last week, not over his driver but his wedge. He was among five players who have used the Ping Eye2 wedge with square grooves – which don’t conform to the new rules but are approved to play because of a settlement from two decades ago.

That prompted Scott McCarron to say it was “cheating,” and Mickelson fired back by saying he had been “publicly slandered.” Mickelson might have put the controversy to rest – at least for now – by saying he had made his point against the USGA and accepted an apology from McCarron.

The next challenge comes from Riviera, which is in pristine condition, and from the strongest field on the PGA Tour so far this year.

Stricker, who finished one shot behind last year, is back for another try, while among those making their season debut are Padraig Harrington and Anthony Kim.

The Irishman was not much of a threat last year at Riviera, or hardly any tournament. He spent the better half of the year trying to find the secret to his mechanics at impact and he wasn’t satisfied until July. By then, he was so far behind that he wound up not winning a tournament anywhere in the world.

Always tinkering, Harrington spent his offseason making more adjustments. Only now, there’s a big difference.

“Last year I came out at this stage and I wasn’t happy with the changes and what they resulted in, and I kept working on it,” Harrington said. “This year, I’m not in that mindset. I’m happy with what I’ve done, and I’m going to just play with that. It’s finished at the moment, and I’m ready to go play golf, which is what I didn’t do last year.”

The field isn’t quite as strong as a year ago, mainly because of the date change. For years, the Northern Trust Open was the final event of the West Coast Swing before the Match Play Championship, and it attracted several European Tour members who wanted to get acclimated to the time change before Match Play.

Partly because of the Winter Olympics, Riviera is being played two weeks before Match Play, so it is missing players such as Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.

The newest face this year is the tournament director – Los Angeles Lakers great Jerry West, an icon in LA who agreed to run the tournament with hopes of boosting its charity dollars.

One other change: It is being televised by NBC Sports, because CBS Sports will show the Match Play during the Olympics. NBC executive producer Tommy Roy has erected a tower left of the 10th fairway to capture tee shots on what many consider to be the best short par 4 in golf.

Mickelson can only hope one thing stays the same: His name on the trophy.

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Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama

By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 11:49 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.

Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.

Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage

Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.

Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.

Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.

“I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.

Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”

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

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:30 pm

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 advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested 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 finals action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)

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Fort Worth Invitational: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 10:30 pm

The PGA Tour makes the short drive from Dallas to Fort Worth and Colonial Country Club. Here are the key stats and information for this week. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 4-7PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 4-7PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $7.1 million

Course: Colonial Country Club (par 70, 7,209 yards)

Defending champion: Kevin Kisner. Last year he defeated Jordan Spieth, Sean O’Hair and Jon Rahm by one stroke

Notables in the field

Jordan Spieth

• Finished T-2, 1st and T-2 in last three starts in this tournament

• 52 under par at Colonial last five years (best of anyone by 27 strokes in that span)

• 100 birdies/eagles made here last five years (most of anyone in that span)

Rickie Fowler

• First start since missed cut at The Players

• More missed cuts (3) than top-10 finishes (2) in 2018

Jon Rahm at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship.

Jon Rahm

• Finished T-2 in this tournament last year (66 in final round)

• 17 top-5 finishes in 46 official worldwide individual starts as professional

Webb Simpson

• First start since Players victory (fifth PGA Tour win)

• Fifth on Tour in strokes gained: putting this season (177th two seasons ago)

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Maguire's storied Duke career comes to an end

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 8:39 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – After losing in the quarterfinals here at the NCAA Women’s Championship, Duke coach Dan Brooks gathered his team and walked back toward the 18th hole. He wanted to get away and deliver a parting speech to senior Leona Maguire, one of the most important players in program history.

“I feel like I didn’t say enough, and I feel like I didn’t say it right,” he said afterward. “I guess that’s inevitable when dealing with a player who has meant so much.”

Maguire’s heralded Duke career came to an end Tuesday when she and her teammates dropped their quarterfinal match to Southern Cal, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2. Maguire did her part, winning, 1 up, against USC’s Jennifer Chang, but it still wasn’t enough.

Maguire will go down as one of the best players not just in Duke’s storied history, but all time in college golf. She’s a two-time Player of the Year. She finished with the best scoring average (70.93) in Division I women’s golf history. She had a record 32 competitive rounds in the 60s. She spent 135 weeks at the top of the World Amateur Golf Rankings, another record.

The 23-year-old from Ireland is the rare collegian who turned down guaranteed LPGA status to return to school to earn her degree and try to win a NCAA title with twin sister Lisa, the team’s No. 5 player. Ultimately, they never reached the championship match.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said softly outside the clubhouse. “The experiences, the memories, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Maguire said that she’s turning pro soon and has a full schedule upcoming. She’ll play the ShopRite LPGA Classic and then try to capitalize on her full status on the developmental Symetra circuit.

Asked about her potential at the next level, Brooks said that Maguire can be a future Hall of Famer.

“She’s the hardest worker and the smartest player I’ve ever coached,” he said. “I’m really going to miss her.”