Bunker Shots Remedy for a slow start

By Randall MellJanuary 26, 2010, 8:21 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from Lefty’s debut to another strong event in the Middle East.

Farmers Insurance Open

The PGA Tour’s sluggish start might have a remedy this week.

Dr. Phil’s making a house call.

That’s the role Phil Mickelson served on the U.S. Presidents Cup team last fall. Captain Fred Couples kept throwing players who needed some medicinal aid at him and Mickelson kept providing the remedy required. Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard and Sean O’Hair all got healing help hitching their games to Mickelson’s in the team event. Nobody lost while paired with Mickelson in that week's victory against the Internationals.

Mickelson could give the entire PGA Tour a booster shot this week with a quick start.

Though Mickelson likes to play himself into shape early in the year, he knows fast starts. He’ll be looking to win his season opener for the fifth time in his career when he tees it up in Thursday’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He’ll be looking to do it for the first time since he won the Bob Hope Classic six years ago.

If Mickelson can pull it off, he’ll have achieved a first in his 19-year professional career. Though he has claimed 40 titles worldwide since turning pro in 1992, he’s never won three tournaments in a row. Mickelson won his last two starts in 2009, the Tour Championship and the WGC-HSBC Champions.

Stance: With Tiger Woods turning Torrey Pines into his traditional first start, the event has come to feel like the start of the PGA Tour season the last few years. Woods made it a big-bang start winning his season debuts there in ’06, ’07 and ’08, but his recovery from knee surgery kept him away in ’09 and the troubles in his personal life are keeping him away again this season. He isn’t the only big name staying away this year. Mickelson is the only top-10 player in the world rankings in the event.

Takeaway: Four events into the new year, with January coming to a close, it still doesn’t feel like the PGA Tour season has begun in earnest. The PGA Tour’s season-opener may never feel like Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, but the Tour could use a big event earlier in its schedule. Why not move the Accenture Match Play Championship to this week, a week before the Super Bowl? The Accenture feels like an All-Star Game with some March Madness bracketing creating office pool fun. The action-packed first two rounds of Match Play and all their upsets rank among the most crazy days of the season. The game could use the energy earlier in the year.

Bunker shot: Mickelson believes his work with Butch Harmon is paying off with his driver becoming more dependable. He believes Dave Stockton’s making his putter more reliable. He made believers of fellow Tour pros beating Woods at the Tour Championship and whipping him head-to-head in the final round of the HSBC Champions in China. There’s evidence he’s poised for his best season yet.

Commercialbank Qatar Masters

Back in the day, pros used to say the golf season didn’t begin until the Florida Swing.

You could argue now that it begins with the European Tour’s Middle Eastern Swing.

The start feels so much more important over there.

The game’s highest ranked players are testing their games against each other in the desert yet again this week.

Stance: Eight of the top 14 players in the world teed it up at the Abu Dhabi Championship last week. By comparison, the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Classic didn’t feature a single player among the top 14. The Qatar Masters boasts seven of the top 14 players in the world this week, nine of the top 20. Mickelson’s the lone player from the top 14 at the Farmers Insurance Open, with just three of the top 20 competing.

Takeaway: South African Charl Schwartzel will be looking to win his third consecutive European Tour start. After winning back-to-back events in his homeland, he took last week off. With a stiffer test this week, we get a better gauge of what to make of his start. Long-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros is the defending champ.

Bunker shot: With his victory against a strong field at Abu Dhabi last week, Germany’s Martin Kaymer continued to build on his swelling reputation, leaping eight spots to No. 6 in the world rankings. He’s 25 but has won three European Tour events in the last six months, five for his career. He tied for sixth in his last major, the PGA Championship. His record over the last six months might be even more impressive if he hadn’t missed two months after breaking three bones in his right foot in a go-kart accident last August. Kaymer looks like the next European star in the making.

And also . . .

The Nationwide Tour’s 21st season begins with Thursday’s start to the Michael Hill New Zealand Open at the Hills Golf Club in Queenstown.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.