Fantastic 4 Face Off Again

By Mercer BaggsMay 12, 2004, 4:00 pm
The Big 3, they called Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson at last weeks Wachovia Championship.
Woods the No. 1 in the world; Singh the man most likely to surpass him; Mickelson the highest ranked player who currently holds a major title.
None won last week, though all briefly challenged on Sunday; and all finished inside the top 10.
This week should prove even more exciting, however, as the Big 3 becomes the Fantastic 4.
Following a three-week vacation at home, Ernie Els leaves the friendly confines of his south London estate to join Woods, Singh and Mickelson in the field for the EDS Byron Nelson Championship.
All four men have won this event: Els in 1995; Mickelson in 96; Woods in 97; Singh a year ago. And all have won at least once this season, as well.
It makes for great television, Els said Wednesday. But does it make for great competition?
Its rare that todays golf titans get together in a regular PGA Tour event.
They compete against one another in each of the four majors and in most of the World Golf Championship events. They also all show up ' assuming they are eligible ' for the limited and lucrative tournaments like the Mercedes Championships and Tour Championship.
But take Championship out of the title and you likely take at least one of them out of the field.
Aside from this years Players Championship, the last time this foursome appeared together in a regular PGA Tour event was the 2002 Memorial Tournament.
Theyve played aside one another six times at Bay Hill, three times at the Memorial, twice at the International, once in Phoenix, once at the Nissan Open, and now for the third time at the Byron Nelson.
In all, every tour event included as a professional, this will be the 69th time all four have been in the same field.
It began when the four qualified for the 1996 Tour Championship. None won the event, but of the four Els finished highest: Els, T6; Singh, T9; Mickelson, 12th; Woods, T21.
Since then, however, it has been a complete reversal of order, in terms of who has gotten the best of his biggest rivals.
Using a simple points system, where 4 points is given to the player who finishes highest among the four; 3 points to second; 2 to third; and 1 to whomever finishes fourth ' with ties equaling a share of points (for example, Vijay and Ernie would each get 2.5 points each for tying for second best finish), Tiger easily reigns supreme.
Woods would accrue 212 points; Mickelson would be second with 161 points; Singh third with 154.5; and Els fourth with 152.5.
Woods has beaten his contemporaries in 33 of their 68 previous head-to-head-to-head-to-head match-ups. Mickelson has been the solo top man 14 times; Els 12 times; Singh eight times; and Els and Singh once tied for top honors.
Of course, these guys dont really care if they beat each other yet still finish third, which Woods did the first two times all four got together for the Byron Nelson.
Wins are really the only thing that matter whenever any of these players enter a tournament. But when all four are in the field, it makes it that much more difficult a goal to accomplish ' unless youre talking about Tiger.
Woods has won 40 times in his PGA Tour career ' 20 of those have come with the three others in attendance.
By contrast, only three of Singhs 18 tour titles ' and none since the 2000 Masters ' have come at the expense of the three others; four of 13 for Els in his career, and four of 23 for Mickelson.
Yet, even when the Fantastic 4 is in action its proven unlikely that even two of them will battle one another for victory ' and even less likely that two of them will do so eyeing each other in the same group.
The epic duel between Phil and Ernie at this years Masters had Els finishing two groups ahead of the champion.
Similar was the case in the 2002 Masters and 2002 U.S. Open, both of which Woods beat Mickelson from a distance.
Most of Tigers 20 wins in this scenario ' 12 of 20, to be exact ' have come with at least one of the three others finishing inside the top 3. But, again, hes rarely had to beat them face-to-face.
In fact, when all four are in the field, there have been only five occasions when one has prevailed with another in his final-round pairing.
  • 2003 WGC-American Express Championship: Woods led Singh by two entering the final round. On the first tee, Woods says, Good Luck. Singh responds, Titleist 2. It was far more intense than exciting, as both men shot 2-over 72. Woods won; Singh tied for second.
  • 2001 Masters: Woods was one clear of Mickelson, while Els lurked three back. Mickelson, playing alongside Woods, remained one off the lead until a three-putt bogey at 16. Woods birdied the last to shoot 68, and defeat David Duval by two. Mickelson finished third after a 70. Els could only manage an even-par 72 and tied for sixth.
  • 2000 U.S. Open: Technically, Woods and Els played in the final twosome on Sunday. But they were miles ' and 10 strokes ' apart. The only drama was to see if Woods could become the first player to finish the Open double digits under par. He did, ending at 12 under, 15 strokes clear of second place Els and Miguel Angel Jiminez.
  • 2000 Tour Championship: The most competitive tournament in which these four have battled one another. Woods and Singh entered the final round tied for the lead, with Mickelson one back and Els trailing by three. Mickelson, who played the final round with Els, shot 66 to win by two over Woods, who had a 69 while paired with Singh. It marked just the third time that Woods had blown at least a share of the 54-hole lead in a tournament on the PGA or European tour. Its happened only once since. Els shot 69 to tie Singh (73) for third.
  • 1999 Memorial: Woods led Singh by two strokes heading to Sunday, and then held off the Fijian with a deft short game. Both men shot 69.
    On the flip side, there was last years British Open, where Woods and Singh were paired together in the penultimate group and neither prevailed.
    So, for the 69th time Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson will tee it up together in the same event on the PGA Tour. And judging by history, theres a better than 45-percent chance (31 out of 68 previous tournaments) that one of these four will win ' and a 29-percent chance (20 out of 68) that it will be Woods.
    Theres also a better-than-average chance that if one of the four does win, that he will have beat one of these rivals. Eighteen out of the 31 times that one of these players has won, at least one more has finished inside the top 3.
    Its just likely that he wont have to beat him head-to-head.
    And dont expect all four to be competitive.
    Only three times ' the 2002 Masters, 2000 Masters and 2000 Tour Championship ' have all four players finished inside the top 10.
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    Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 22, 2018, 5:30 pm

    Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

    Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
    (1) D. Johnson: 0-1-0 (2) J. Thomas: 1-0-0 (3) J. Rahm: 0-0-1 (4) J. Spieth: 1-0-0
    (32) K. Kisner: 0-0-1 (21) F. Molinari: 1-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat: 1-0-0 (19) P. Reed: 1-0-0
    (38) A. Hadwin: 0-0-1
    (48) P. Kizzire: 0-1-0 (43) C. Reavie: 0-1-0 (34) H. Li: 0-1-0
    (52) B. Wiesberger: 1-0-0
    (60) L. List: 0-1-0 (63) K. Bradley: 0-0-1 (49) C. Schwartzel: 0-1-0
    Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
    (5) H. Matsuyama: 1-0-0 (6) R. McIlroy: 0-1-0 (7) S. Garcia: 1-0-0 (8) J. Day: 1-0-0
    (30) P. Cantlay: 0-1-0
    (18) B. Harman: 0-0-1 (20) X. Schauffele: 1-0-0 (25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-0-0
    (46) C. Smith: 1-0-0 (44) J. Vegas: 0-0-1 (41) D. Frittelli: 0-1-0 (42) J. Dufner: 0-1-0
    (53) Y. Miyazato: 0-1-0 (51) P. Uihlein: 1-0-0 (62) S. Sharma: 0-1-0 (56) J. Hahn: 0-1-0
    Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
    (9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0 (10) P. Casey: 1-0-0 (11) M. Leishman: 0-1-0 (12) T. Hatton: 1-0-0
    (26) D. Berger: 0-1-0 (31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-1-0 (23) B. Grace: 0-1-0 (22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0
    (33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0 (45) K. Stanley: 1-0-0 (35) B. Watson: 1-0-0 (36) B. Steele: 1-0-0
    (58) I. Poulter: 1-0-0 (51) R. Henley: 0-1-0 (64) J. Suri: 1-0-0 (55) A. Levy: 0-1-0
    Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
    (13) A. Noren: 2-0-0 (14) P. Mickelson: 0-1-0 (15) P. Perez: 0-0-1 (16) M. Kuchar: 0-0-1
    (29) T. Finau: 1-0-0 (17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-0-0 (24) G. Woodland: 0-0-1 (27) R. Fisher: 0-1-0
    (39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0 (40) S. Kodaira: 0-1-0 (37) W. Simpson: 0-0-1 (47) Y. Ikeda: 1-0-0
    (61) K. Na: 0-1-0 (59) C. Howell III: 1-0-0 (50) S.W. Kim: 0-0-1 (54) Z. Johnson: 0-0-1
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    Romo starts hot, stumbles to 77 in PGA Tour debut

    By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 5:14 pm

    There was plenty of good, but also plenty of bad for Tony Romo in his PGA Tour debut.

    Playing in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship on a sponsor exemption, Romo shot an even-par 36 for his opening nine holes in the Dominican Republic. The former NFL quarterback bogeyed his first two holes, but steadied the ship with three birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 4-8.

    The early highlight of the round came at the par-4 fifth hole, where Romo drained a putt from across the green for his second straight birdie:

    But the back nine wasn't as kind for the 37-year-old, who dropped five shots in a four-hole stretch from Nos. 13-16. It added up to a 5-over 77 in the opening round, which left Romo ahead of only Guy Boros among the players who had finished in the morning wave.

    "I hit two poor tee balls. Just didn't commit to it, and ultimately just got put in a tough spot where you're just trying to make par," Romo said. "I hit a lot of good shots, and they ended up a couple times in some poor spots. But you learn the golf course as you play it throughout the week."

    Romo has played as an amateur partner in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and has played individually in U.S. Open local qualifiers and mini-tour events as an amateur. But this marks his first attempt to gauge his game against the best players in the world who are not in Austin for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    Romo was even par through 12 holes before a three-putt bogey from the fringe on No. 13. A nasty lie in the rough led to a double bogey on the par-5 14th, and Romo had to hit provisional tee shots on both Nos. 15 and 16. While he ultimately found his original ball on both holes, he left with a pair of bogeys.

    "I really hit some good shots, and I'm close," Romo said. "I had a chance to be under par pretty easily there for a while, and then two or three shots on the back nine cost me. But that's golf."

    Romo will tee off at 1 p.m. ET Friday in the second round alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

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    Horschel, Kisner & Perez join "Feherty," Monday, March 26 at 9 p.m. ET

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsMarch 22, 2018, 5:10 pm

    PREVIEW: Perez details rocky collegiate golf experience at Arizona State

    Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner and Pat Perez – each winners of multiple events on the PGA TOUR – will join David Feherty on his self-titled, Emmy-nominated series Feherty presented by Farmers Insurance®, Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

    “This might be the biggest group of benign social deviants I’ve ever had the privilege of speaking to,” said Feherty. “They’ve been responsible for nine career wins on TOUR collectively, but they’re each also capable of getting into some mischief.”

    The episode – filmed in Naples, Fla. – will touch upon several topics, including:

    • Their respective upbringings and corresponding introductions to golf.
    • Reflections on their junior golf and collegiate playing days, and how it helped prepare them to compete as a professional.
    • Contemplating which mulligan(s) they’d take in their life if given the opportunity.

    Future guests on Feherty this year include Paul Azinger, Stewart Cink, Boo Weekley and Paul Goydos, among others.

    A two-time Emmy-nominated host (Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Host) Feherty has been described as “golf’s iconoclast,” by Rolling Stone, and “the last unscripted man on TV,” by Men’s Journal. His all-star lineup of golf-enthused and culturally relevant guests feature celebrities from across entertainment, sports and politics. To date, Feherty has sat down with four U.S. Presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump); sports legends Charles Barkley, Nick Saban, Stephen Curry and Bobby Knight; Hollywood icons Matthew McConaughey, Larry David and Samuel L. Jackson; World Golf of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson; and a host of current golf superstars including Paula Creamer, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Michelle Wie. Feherty is produced by Golf Channel’s original productions group, which also oversees production for Driver vs. Driver and Golf Films.

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    Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 2

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 22, 2018, 4:00 pm

    Here is how things played out on Day 2 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play. Click here for Day 1 match results:

    Group 1: Dustin Johnson (1) vs. Adam Hadwin (38)

    Group 1: Kevin Kisner (32) vs. Bernd Wiesberger (52)

    Group 2: Justin Thomas (2) vs. Patton Kizzire (48)

    Group 2: Francesco Molinari (21) vs. Luke List (60)

     Group 3: Jon Rahm (3) vs. Chez Reavie (43)

    Group 3: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) vs. Keegan Bradley (63)

    Group 4: Jordan Spieth (4) vs. Haotong Li (34)

    Group 4: Patrick Reed (19) vs. Charl Schwartzel (49)

    Group 5: Hideki Matsuyama (5) vs. Cameron Smith (46)

    Group 5: Patrick Cantlay (30) vs. Yusaku Miyazato (53)

    Group 6: Rory McIlroy (6) vs. Jhonattan Vegas (44)

    Group 6: Brian Harman (18) vs. Peter Uihlein (57)

    Group 7: Sergio Garcia (7) vs. Dylan Frittelli (41)

    Group 7: Xander Schauffele (20) vs. Shubhankar Sharma (62)

    Group 8: Jason Day (8) vs. Jason Dufner (42)

    Group 8: Louis Oosthuizen (25) vs. James Hahn (56)

    Group 9: Tommy Fleetwood (9) def. Kevin Chappell (33), 7 and 6: Avenging an opening-day loss, the Englishman won the first four holes and needed to make only three birdies in a monster rout of Chappell. The 2017 Presidents Cupper made five bogeys and conceded two other holes but still has a chance to win the group.  

    Group 9: Daniel Berger (26) vs. Ian Poulter (58)

    Group 10: Paul Casey (10) vs. Kyle Stanley (45)

    Group 10: Matthew Fitzpatrick (31) vs. Russell Henley (51)

    Group 11: Marc Leishman (11) vs. Bubba Watson (35)

    Group 11: Branden Grace (23) vs. Julian Suri (64)

    Group 12: Tyrrell Hatton (12) vs. Brendan Steele (36)

    Group 12: Charley Hoffman (22) vs. Alexander Levy (55)

    Group 13: Alex Noren (13) def. Thomas Pieters (39), 5 and 4: Noren made quick work of Pieters in what could be a match of future Ryder Cup teammates. Noren built a 4-up lead after seven holes and then cruised from there, moving to 2-0 this week and eliminating Pieters. In 30 holes this week, Noren has made 12 birdies and no bogeys.

    Group 13: Tony Finau (29) vs. Kevin Na (61)

    Group 14: Phil Mickelson (14) vs. Satoshi Kodaira (40)

    Group 14: Rafa Cabrera Bello (17) vs. Charles Howell III (59)

    Group 15: Pat Perez (15) vs. Webb Simpson (37)

    Group 15: Gary Woodland (24) vs. Si Woo Kim (50)

    Group 16: Matt Kuchar (16) vs. Yuta Ikeda (47)

    Group 16: Ross Fisher (27) vs. Zach Johnson (54)