Mickelson takes first-round lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2012, 2:10 am

LOS ANGELES – Four days after his big win at Pebble Beach, Phil Mickelson keeps right on rolling.

Mickelson hit driver off the deck from just under 300 yards on the par-5 11th that led to a two-putt birdie, and he ended a gorgeous afternoon Thursday at Riviera by chipping in from 35 feet for birdie. That gave him a 5-under 66 and a one-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open.

Dating to the back nine of his second round at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Mickelson has made birdie or eagle on one-third of the holes he has played. And his streak of consecutive holes without a bogey finally ended at 49 on the par-3 16th.

No matter. He looked good with the putter and with his low, penetrating tee shots that he kept below the tree line on a windy day that prevented low scoring.

J.B. Holmes, in his fourth tournament since returning from brain surgery in September, played his final six holes without a par. His round ended with a 315-yard tee shot – a big drive in the cool air of Los Angeles in February – and an approach to 8 feet for birdie at No. 9, the second-toughest hole at Riviera.

That gave him a 4-under 67. He was tied with Hunter Mahan, whose 35-foot birdie at No. 5 sent him on a string of four straight birdies.

They all played in the afternoon, when the wind began to die late in the day.

Jonathan Byrd, who faced the chilly, blustery conditions of the morning, had a 68. He was joined by Carl Pettersson.

The first round was suspended by darkness with 30 players yet to finish the round, a typical occurrence at this tournament with 144-man field and limited daylight.

Mickelson is coming off an 8-under 64 in the final round at Pebble Beach, where he rallied from a six-shot deficit – and beat playing partner Tiger Woods by 11 shots – to change the outlook on his West Coast Swing. Riviera is his final tournament before the Tour moves to Florida, and even on a different golf course, not much has changed.

He holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the long par-3 fourth hole, and then really got going on the back nine.

After a tough pitch to 12 feet that led to birdie on the 10th, Mickelson had 297 yards to the hole on the 11th and decided to hit driver, a shot he had not tried in months.

It came off perfectly and climbed onto the front edge of the green, making Mickelson the only player to have an eagle putt on the 587-yard hole, which played right into the wind. The pin was all the way back, away from a large hump in the putting surface, which gave Mickelson the green light.

His eagle putt from 60 feet died next to the hole.

“I didn’t think it was going to necessarily be reachable into that wind, but I was able to hit a low drive off the tee that scooted along the ground, and I felt like if I could hit one more of those with a driver I could get right up by the green,” Mickelson said. “I felt like it was worth the risk to try to scoop one up.”

The chip-in from behind the 18th was a bonus.

Mickelson made his lone bogey when his chip behind the 16th green ran 7 feet past the cup, and he missed the putt. On the 17th, his wedge rolled back to 7 feet for birdie, but the putt slid by on the left.

He faced another quick chip on the 18th, but it dropped in with perfect speed.

“It wasn’t one I was really trying to make,” he said. “It was quick, it was downhill, and I had to play about 4 or 5 feet of break, so it’s not one that you’re trying to get aggressive with. I was trying to get good speed and try to let it feed with the break, and I got fortunate, obviously, that it went in.”

Holmes was the first player to reach 5 under, and that’s where his fun began – consecutive bogeys when he failed to get up-and-down from just short of the green; a tap-in birdie at the par-3 sixth, with the pin below the bunker in the middle of the green; an 18-foot birdie on the seventh, a three-putt double bogey on the eighth and the birdie at the end.

He has struggled with a slight loss of power since brain surgery in September, and he even topped a shot in Phoenix a few weeks ago. But it’s all starting to come together.

“I feel like each week my swing has definitely gotten a little bit better and improved a little bit,” Holmes said. “My swing speed has slowly come back a little bit being out here and playing this much.”

Byrd woke up Thursday morning to hear the wind whipping at his rental house on the Pacific bluffs. The last thing he wanted to do was play golf at Riviera, but it worked out well for him. He made five birdies in the toughest of conditions. The average score from the morning wave was 73.7.

“We’re staying up on a bluff about five miles away,” he said. “I got out of bed this morning and walked outside, and I was pretty anxious about playing this golf course today because it was howling on top of that bluff. And it whipped all day. My approach was just to keep it in play and have a pretty conservative game plan.”

The afternoon players got a slight break, though the wind remained a factor.

“The last seven holes the wind started to die down progressively, and by the end, it couldn’t be playing any nicer or any better,” Mahan said. “So I was excited to come make some birdies late.”

DIVOTS: UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay, who didn’t miss a cut on the PGA Tour last year, opened with a 78. The Northern Trust Open also gave an exemption to Texas freshman Jordan Spieth, who had a 76. … Tim Clark, playing for the first time since The Players Championship because of elbow surgery, was 4 over through 16 holes.


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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 12:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch.


Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.