Woods Mickelson McDowell wrap up Round 1

By Rex HoggardMarch 10, 2011, 7:00 pm

WGC-Cadillac ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – GolfChannel.com senior writer Rex Hoggard is at Doral for the first round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He is providing a running blog for the featured grouping of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell. Follow him on Twitter (@RexHoggard) for more updates, or for full-field scoring, click here.

 

 

 

(9:54 a.m. ET) Tiger Woods did not attend Thursday’s Lakers-Heat game like most of the WGC field, but Graeme McDowell was there as well as a host of other celebrities.

“Snoop Dogg was there, Lil Wayne was there . . . and Rory (McIlroy),” he smiled.


(9:50 a.m. ET) Graeme McDowell birdied two of his last four holes from the weather-delayed first round at Doral, Tiger Woods pared his last three and Phil Mickelson is trying to figure out what went wrong.

Lefty bogeyed the seventh hole, the first of the group’s day, and hit two balls into the water at the eighth for a double bogey-7 to fall to 1 over par, three behind Woods and McDowell.

Woods, after a tough round on Doral’s greens, seemed particularly upbeat, “I hit a lot of good putts yesterday, but the grain was a lot tougher than I thought and it took some time to adjust.”

The high-profile threesome goes back out into the cool wind for Round 2 just before noon.

 


(9:11 a.m. ET) Much has been made of Tiger Woods' struggles in the wind of late (see Dubai and Dove Mountain) but it was Phil Mickelson who got crossed up in the gusts early Friday at Doral.

Lefty pushed his drive left of the eighth fairway and into a water hazard and pulled his third shot into another pond short of the green. He signed for a double bogey-7. Woods, on the other hand, made birdie.
(8:48 a.m. ET) Spotted Butch Harmon in the Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell gallery early Friday at Doral.

He's there for Lefty, of course, but watching Woods, who two-putted the seventh hole to remain at 1 under par.
(8:38 a.m. ET)
First-round play at the WGC-Cadillac Championship resumed at 8:30 a.m. with the marquee grouping of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell on the seventh tee, their 16th hole.

On Thursday the lofty three-ball did not exactly live up to expectations and it's doubtful they will heat up on Friday.

The winds have come up at Doral and the temperature has dropped to 60 degrees, frigid by south Florida standards.
(6:16 p.m. ET) Officials halted play at 6:15 a.m. due to darkness with the day's marquee three-ball on the sixth hole.
(6:08 p.m. ET) As darkness closed in on Doral Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are starting to see the light.

Both hit their approaches to within 10 feet at the fifth, although Woods missed his birdie putt, while Graeme McDowell made bogey to drop to 2 under, tied with Mickeslson and one clear of Woods.

The first round is set to resume at 8:30 a.m. on Friday followed by the second round at 11:20 a.m.


(5:43 p.m. ET) The day's top card is through 12 holes and may finish their first rounds depending on the forecast.

Officials said they can play until 6:30 p.m. before darkness falls.

Tiger Woods may want to keep playing. He holed a 9 footer for birdie at the third hole, his longest putt of the day, to move to 1 under, one behind Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell.


(5:27 p.m. ET) Officials gave the masses what they wanted, a Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson rematch at Doral, but the two leading men have not delivered.

 

Mickelson is 2 under, three off the lead, and Woods is at even par through 12 holes. That's a long way from that instant classic six years ago.


(5:15 p.m. ET) Tiger Woods hit his second shot to 18 feet at the par-5 first hole and two-putted for his first birdie of the day and to get to even par.

Still, it didn't earn him tee box honors and he trails Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell by two strokes.

(4:47 p.m. ET) Tiger Woods did much better on Doral's 18th hole on Thursday than he did on Wednesday.

Although he made par it was a marked improvement over the 'X' he took in practice.

His first-round score also featured the shot of the day, a cut driver that sailed more than 300 yards through a freshening cross-wind to turn at 1 over par.


(4:19 p.m. ET) Tiger Woods hit his second driver of the day at Doral's 16th hole, the first sailed some 50 yards left of the 12th fairway.

The results were different the second time, not the score. Woods drove to about 20 yards short of the green, flopped his second to 8 feet but missed the birdie putt to remain at 1 over.


(3:57 p.m. ET) Graeme McDowell may request a permanent tee time with Tiger Woods.

Through five holes at Doral the U.S. Open champion has five one-putts and is 2 under par. Woods, by comparison, lipped out an 11-footer for birdie at the 15th hole to remain at 1 over par.


(3:44 p.m. ET) It's worth noting after a messy bogey by Tiger Woods at the 13th hole at Doral that he is playing under relatively calm conditions so far and is still 1 over, three behind tee sheet mates Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell.
(3:33 p.m. ET) Television produces and fans at home may love this week's marquee grouping of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell, but for tournament organizers it can be a challenge.

'Everyone follows one group and they are like locusts,' said one tournament director. 'They move across the course and just inhale everything, concessions, bathrooms, everything.'

The horde is on the move at Doral, with a few hundred trailing Woods and Co. as they move through the back nine.


(3:16 p.m. ET) Quick Tiger Woods update: scrambling par at his second hole and he hit his drive 50 yards left of the 12th fairway. Starting to feel like Dove Mountain again, sans the jumping cholla and snow.
(2:59 p.m. ET) If you picked Tiger Woods for low-ball honors at Doral you're off to a slow start.

Graeme McDowell rolls in a 30-footer at the 10th, the group's first hole, and Phil Mickelson matched him from 11 feet while Woods missed his 10-footer at the first.
(2:48 p.m. ET) A high-profile swing coach mused before Tiger Woods teed off for his delayed first round at Doral that this is an important round.

For Woods?

'No, (Sean) Foley,' he said.

We may have taken this swing spat thing too far.
(2:08 p.m. ET) Play is scheduled to restart at 2:30 p.m. ET after a storm blew through, and down, parts of Doral, but the damage is still on the ground.

According to tournament director Eddie Carbone 17 trees, two television towers, a ShotLink tower and the 18th hole scoreboard were blown down by winds that gusted to 55 mph.

“We’re not sure if we can rebuild (the leaderboard) right now,” Carbone said.


(1:20 p.m. ET) The storm has moved on but the wait continues at Doral. According to officials the practice tee will reopen at 1:30 p.m. (ET) and first-round play is scheduled to restart at 2:30 p.m., which means the three-ball marquee of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell will tee off at about 2:35 p.m.
(11:48 a.m. ET) For all those waiting for the Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell three-ball at Doral, the wait will continue.

Officials blew the weather warning horn at 11:46 a.m., five minutes before the power threesome was scheduled to tee off.

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USGA-player relationship at a breaking point?

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 8:00 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – For seven days each year, the American game’s preeminent governing body welcomes the best players in the world with open arms. They set up shop at one of the premier courses in the country, and line it with grandstands and white hospitality tents as far as the eye can see.

The players arrive, first at a slow trickle and then at a steady pace. And once they’ve registered and clipped their player medallions over their belts, they’re told how this year is going to be different.

How this time around, be it in a Washington gravel pit or on a time-tested piece of land on the tip of Long Island, the USGA will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That the process of identifying the best players in the world will not veer into the territory of embarrassing them.

Like a college sweetheart in search of reconciliation, the powers-that-be preach a changed attitude and a more even-handed approach. Then, inevitably, they commit the same cardinal sins they promised to avoid.

So year in and year out, the scar tissue builds. Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick the football and, for most of the players not named Brooks Koepka, he ends up on his butt in a cloud of dust and fescue.



After letting Shinnecock Hills plunge into avoidable yet all-too-familiar territory over the weekend – before being doused back to life – one thing is clear: in the eyes of many players, the USGA can’t be trusted.

“When are they going to get it right? I just feel like they disrespect these historic golf courses,” said Scott Piercy, a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open who got swept away this week during a crispy third round en route to a T-45 finish. “I think they disrespect the players, I think they disrespect the game of golf. And they’re supposed to be, like, the top body in the game of golf. And they disrespect it, every aspect of it.”

Piercy, like several players in this week’s field, had a few specific gripes about how Shinnecock was set up, especially during the third round when USGA CEO Mike Davis admitted his organization lost control in a display that echoed the mistakes of 2004. But this was not an isolated case.

Players went with skepticism to Chambers Bay three years ago, only to encounter greens that were largely dirt and got compared to produce. Mismatched grass strains, they were told. Whoops.

The next year the USGA threw a dark cloud over a classic venue by allowing much of the final round at Oakmont to play without knowing the leader’s actual score as a rules fiasco reached a furious boil. Last year’s Erin Hills experiment was met with malaise.

At this point, the schism runs much deeper than a single error in setup. It threatens the core competency of the organization in the eyes of several of the players it looks to serve.

“They do what they want, and they don’t do it very well. As far as I’m concerned, there is no relationship (between players and the USGA),” said Marc Leishman. “They try and do it. They do it on purpose. They say they want to test us mentally, and they do that by doing dumb stuff.”



By and large, players who took issue with the USGA’s tactics had a simple solution: put more of the setup choices in the hands of those who oversee PGA Tour and European Tour venues on a regular basis. While some of those personnel already moonlight in USGA sweater-vests for the week, there is a strong sentiment that their collective knowledge could be more heavily relied upon.

“I know (the USGA) takes great pride in doing all this stuff they do to these golf courses, but they see it once a year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “Let those guys say, ‘Hey, we see this every week. We know what the edge is. We know where it is.’ We can’t be out there playing silly golf.”

That’s not to say that a major should masquerade as the Travelers Championship. But the U.S. Open is the only one of the four that struggles to keep setup shortfalls from becoming a dominant storyline.

It all adds up to a largely adversarial relationship, one that continues to fray after this weekend’s dramatics and which isn’t helped by the USGA’s insistence that they should rarely shoulder the blame.

“They’re not going to listen, for one. Mike Davis thinks he’s got all the answers, that’s No. 2,” said Pat Perez after a T-36 finish. “And when he is wrong, there’s no apologies. It’s just, ‘Yeah, you know, we kind of let it get out of hand.’ Well, no kidding. Look at the scores. That’s the problem. It’s so preventable. You don’t have to let it get to that point.”



But this wound festers from more than just slick greens and thick rough. There is a perception among some players that the USGA gets overly zealous in crafting complicated rules with complex decisions, a collection of amateur golfers doling out the fine print that lords over the professional game on a weekly basis – with the curious handling of whatever Phil Mickelson did on the 13th green Saturday serving as just the latest example.

The gripes over setup each year at the USGA’s biggest event, when it’s perceived that same group swoops in to take the reins for a single week before heading for the hills, simply serve as icing on the cake. And there was plenty of icing this week after players were implored to trust that the miscues of 2004 would not be repeated.

“To say that the players and the USGA have had a close relationship would be a false statement,” Snedeker said. “They keep saying all the right things, and they’re trying to do all the right things, I think. But it’s just not coming through when it matters.”

It’s worth noting that the USGA has made efforts recently to ramp up its communication with the top pros. Officials from the organization have regularly attended the Tour’s player meetings in recent months, and Snedeker believes that some strides have been made.

So, too, does Zach Johnson, who was one of the first to come out after the third round and declare that the USGA had once again lost the golf course.

“I think they’ve really started to over the last few years, last couple years in particular, tried to increase veins of communication,” Johnson said. “When you’re talking about a week that is held in the highest regards, I’m assuming within the organization and certainly within my peer group as one of the four majors and my nation’s major, communication is paramount.”



But the exact size of the credibility gap the USGA has to bridge with some top pros remains unclear. It’s likely not a sting that one good week of tournament setup can assuage, even going to one of the more straightforward options in the rotation next year at Pebble Beach.

After all, Snedeker was quick to recall that players struggled mightily to hit the par-3 17th green back in 2010, with eventual champ Graeme McDowell calling the hole “borderline unfair” ahead of the third round.

“It’s one of the greatest holes in world golf, but I don’t really know how I can hit the back left portion of the green,” McDowell said at the time. “It’s nearly impossible.”

Surely this time next year, Davis will explain how the USGA has expanded its arsenal in the last decade, and that subsequent changes to the 17th green structure will make it more playable. His organization will then push the course to the brink, like a climber who insists on scaling Mount Everest without oxygen, and they’ll tell 156 players that this time, finally, the desired balance between difficult and fair has been achieved.

Whether they’ll be believed remains to be seen.

@bubbawatson on Instagram

Bubba gets inked by Brooks, meets Tebow

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 5:40 pm

Bubba Watson missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills following rounds of 77-74, but that didn't stop him from enjoying his weekend.

Watson played alongside Jason Day and eventual champion Brooks Koepka in Rounds 1 and 2, and somehow this body ink slipped by us on Thursday.

Got autographed by defending @usopengolf Champ @bkoepka!! #NeverShoweringAgain

A post shared by Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) on

And while we're sure Bubba would have rather been in contention over the weekend, we're also sure that taking your son to meet the second most famous minor-league baseball player who ever lived was a lot more fun than getting your teeth kicked in by Shinnecock Hills over the weekend, as just about everyone not named Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood did.

Already in Hartford, Watson will be going for his third Travelers Championship trophy this week, following wins in 2010 and 2015.

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari

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5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

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5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello