Phil Fans Ready for Wild Times in the Desert

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 30, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)The PGA TOUR makes its annual stop this week in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the long-running FBR Open -- and the list of superlatives that come with it: wild, raucous, unpredictable.
 
And no, we're not talking the fans surrounding the infamous 16th green at the TPC of Scottsdale.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has had four straight top-10s at the FBR Open. (WireImage).
Rather, we're talking about Phil Mickelson's scorecards thus far this season.
 
Mickelson, who once was a resident in the area and was a college star at nearby Arizona State, returns to the desert as a two-time winner of the event. Yet, it is the scorecards from his opening two tournaments that scream of rust and perhaps too much time away from TOUR play.
 
After a much publicized retreat from golf following his dismal Ryder Cup performance, Phil the Thrill has seemingly gone back to the style of play that prompted the commercial, 'What will Phil do next?'
 
At the 90-hole Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Lefty somehow parred just half the holes (45) - the other half were birdies, eagles, bogeys or worse. Somewhere an amusement park should come up with a roller-coaster named after the man.
 
It was pretty much the same last week at the Buick Invitational. Plenty of birdies, several doubles, too many bogeys and a lone eagle - in perfect Lefty-style - on the 72nd hole.
 
The results - a tie for 45th and a tie for 51st. Hardly the start the reigning Masters champion was looking for to possibly quell the talk of his now legendary meltdown at Winged Foot. But a homecoming of sorts this week could be just what the doctor ordered for Phil.
 
Another homecoming of sorts is that of J.B. Holmes, even though he hails from Campbellsville, Ky.
 
It was here last year that one of the PGA TOUR's biggest bombers landed his first TOUR win - in a spectacular, runaway fashion. His seven-shot margin of victory was the largest in a player's maiden TOUR victory since Jose Maria Olazabal's 12-stroke romp at the 1990 NEC World Series of Golf.
 
Heres our list of players to watch for from four different categories: Superstar (top-10 ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking); Second Tier (guys outside the top 10, but no lower than 100); First-Timer (a player who has never won before on TOUR); Veteran (a guy who has played 10-plus years on the PGA TOUR and may or may not have won in some time).
 
Fred Funk
Fred Funk is coming off a bogey free week in Hawaii.
Superstar
Although with just three top-10 players in the field again this week, Mickelson's up-and-down play is too suspect to be the pick. Geoff Ogilvy, a definite star in the making, has little to draw from so far this season. The pick for this week then falls into the lap of Vijay Singh. Twice a winner of this event, his last in 2003, Singh will come into Scottsdale with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after two straight sub-par - by his standards - efforts at the Hope and the Buick. Singh has had five straight top-20 finishes in the event.
 
Second Tier
Fred Funk. The Funkmeister is coming off a big win on the Champions Tour that saw him trounce the competition to the tune of a staggering 11-shot victory. Maybe even more impressive was this stat: 54 holes, 0 bogeys. Funk, who turns 51 in June, intends to spend most of his time on the PGA TOUR this season due his exempt status from winning the Players Championship in 2005.
 
First-Timer
If J.B. Holmes can have his breakout party here Arizona, why not Bubba Watson? Watson did edge out Holmes for the driving distance title last season and had the best finish of his young career just south in Tucson at the Chrysler Classic. Currently 24th on the money list due his fourth-place tie last week, Watson again is leading the TOUR in driving distance at 323.1 yards off the tee. It's just too bad that the wild 16th hole in Scottsdale is a par-3 instead of a par-5, or a short par-4. If it was, Watson would no doubt be crowned the king.
 
Veteran
Mark Calcavecchia was the pick in this space a week ago, and he gets a well-deserved nod again this week. A three-time champion in Scottsdale, Calc is playing inspired golf at the moment, racking up his second straight top-10 after his tie for fourth at the Buick. With his confidence growing, the 12-time PGA TOUR winner will be ready when he arrives at the place where he has had his most success.
 
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    Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

    Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

    Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

    Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.


    Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


    The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

    His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

    McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

    He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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    Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

    By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

    It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

    The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

    The week was more than nostalgic. 

    It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

    In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

    “I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

    Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

    “It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

    Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.


    Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


    The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

    “It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

    Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

    “Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

    She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

    “Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

    At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

    With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

    This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

    “A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

    Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

    “It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

    In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

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    Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

    By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

    SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

    The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

    In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

    Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

    Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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    Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

    Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

    Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

    It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

    "Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

    Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

    But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

    As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

    The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.