Bunker Shots Home of a Monster and Trumps playground

By Randall MellMarch 9, 2010, 7:21 pm
Blasting into the week ahead, from the home of a Monster to Trump's playground . . .

WGC-CA Championship

Feverish, shaky and drenched in cold sweat . . .

No, that isn’t how PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has been waking mornings since Tiger Woods drove into a neighbor’s fire hydrant three months ago. It’s how Phil Mickelson felt sleeping on the 54-hole lead the last time the WGC-CA Championship was staged at Doral.
phil mickelson doral 2009
Phil Mickelson battled food poisoning en route to winning at Doral in 2009. This year his issue is undiagnosed. (Getty Images)
Mickelson won at Doral despite suffering from a bout of food poisoning on the eve of last year’s final round.

Mickelson is back to defend his title at what’s now being called the TPC Blue Monster at Doral, and there’s something ailing him again. He’s been sluggish, out-of-sorts and just not himself so far this season. This time he appears to be suffering from a bout of ordinary golf, a malady far more difficult to win with than food poisoning.

Longtime fans of Doral’s PGA Tour stop are fighting a sickening feel, too. The event begins with CA having yet to announce it will renew title sponsorship after its contract runs out at the end of this week.

Stance: If you stuck a thermometer in Lefty’s mouth, you might detect some frost. Mickelson’s gone cold. In fact, you can argue this is the coldest he’s been in a decade upon his arrival for the Florida Swing. That’s more a testament to Mickelson’s past success on the West Coast Swing than an indictment of his uninspired form this season. In four starts, Mickelson’s logged one top-10 finish. We know Mickelson can get off to slow starts, but this is his slowest since 2000, when he didn’t have a top 10 in his first five starts. With Woods on the shelf, Mickelson’s failed to capitalize on an opportunity to gain ground on the world’s No. 1. Of course, it’s all about the majors for Lefty, and he’s still got a month to heat up for the Masters.

Takeaway: Hurry up, fellas. It looks like the money grab in World Golf Championship events is winding down with news that Woods is intensifying his work at Isleworth for a possible return. You could argue that Woods skipping the CA Championship is akin to tournament officials announcing they’re adding $1,530,000 to the purse. That’s the first-place check Woods would be eyeing if he were in the field. Woods is far more a sure thing in WGC events than he is in majors. Throw out the two-man team World Cups that were staged as WGC events, and 33 WGC tournaments have been played since they were initiated in 1999. Woods has won more than half of them. He’s won as many WGC titles (17) as Curtis Strange won PGA Tour titles. He has more WGC titles than Tom Weiskopf (16), Ernie Els (16) and Mark O’Meara (16) have PGA Tour titles.

Bunker shot: Best player never to win a WGC title? Mickelson took his name out of that mix last year winning the CA Championship and the HSBC Champions. Who does that leave? Sergio Garcia isn’t just in the running for best player never to win a major, he’s also never won a WGC title. Neither have Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Jim Furyk.

Puerto Rico Open

Breakthroughs and comebacks.

That’s the theme that has quickly developed in this third-year event at Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

That makes it a perfect place for John Daly, 43, to show he’s got one last meaningful run in him.

Greg Kraft, whose career was nearly derailed by “Valley Fever,” won the inaugural event two years ago. Michael Bradley, who struggled with back injuries and other physical woes for almost a decade, won last year for his third PGA Tour title, his first in 11 years.

Stance: Daly’s determination and perseverance continue to impress. Within 24 hours after a published report revealed contents of his PGA Tour personnel file detailing his bad-boy antics, Daly set out to add to the 456-page file. He tweeted the cell phone number of the sportswriter who filed the story, calling him a jerk while encouraging his fans to “call and flood his line.” Daly, who has been cited 21 times in his career for failing to give his best effort, never seems to tire hitting shots out of bounds.

Takeaway: The twentysomethings have mounted a nice run on the PGA Tour this season with Camilo Villegas, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas winning events. While this tournament has belonged exclusively to fortysomethings – Kraft was 43 when he won it, Bradley 42 – there’s one Young Gun who seems poised to keep the twentysomething run going. Alex Prugh (25) has three top 10s in his first six starts this season.

Bunker shot: Boo Weekley might want to abandon his camouflage clothing. It’s working too well. The likeable fifth-year PGA Tour pro hasn’t been seen on a leaderboard in a long spell. He hasn’t recorded a top 10 in more than a year. A two-time PGA Tour winner, Weekley last cracked the top 10 at the Sony Open last year. Weekley, who memorably rode his driver like it was a Derby contender down the first fairway at Valhalla during the last Ryder Cup, struggled with a bad shoulder last year and has slipped to 72nd on the U.S. Ryder Cup standings. Weekley’s missed on golf’s biggest stages but has a chance to right his game on a smaller stage this week.

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Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.

Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship

''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”

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Fowler 'pain free' and tied for Tour Championship lead

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:01 pm

ATLANTA – The most important member of Team USA at next week’s Ryder Cup may be the team trainer.

Justin Thomas began the season finale nursing a case of tendonitis in his right wrist and Rickie Fowler skipped the first two playoff events after being slowed by a right oblique injury.

Neither player seemed impacted by the injuries on Thursday at the Tour Championship, with Thomas tied for fifth at 3 under and Fowler tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 5 under par.

Current FedExCup standings

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I needed the 2 1/2 weeks or so of just sitting around really not doing a whole lot,” said Fowler, who tied for eighth last week at the BMW Championship. “It was definitely the right call. If I would have played through the first or second playoff events, there was really no benefit, especially looking at the ultimate goal being ready for the Ryder Cup and to have a chance to be here at East Lake.”

Being rested and pain-free is a vast improvement over how he felt at the PGA Championship last month, when he underwent therapy before and after each round and had to wear tape just to play.

“It's nice to be back swinging pain-free because I wouldn't have wanted to deal with how it felt during PGA week for a continued amount of time,” said Fowler, who finished his day with a bogey-free closing nine to secure a spot in Friday’s final group with Woods.