Mickelson Makes a Move at Doral

By Sports NetworkMarch 4, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Ford Championship at DoralMIAMI -- Phil Mickelson posted a 6-under 66 on Friday to take the second-round lead of the Ford Championship at Doral. He missed the 36-hole record by a stroke at 14-under-par 130 and is two ahead of Billy Andrade.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods struggled Friday and is now five back of the lead.
Mickelson, who was part of a tie for the lead on Thursday, is unquestionably the hottest player on the PGA Tour. He won two of his last three starts, the FBR Open in Phoenix and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and played well before running into David Toms in the third round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
He finds himself with at least a share of the lead after his ninth consecutive stroke-play round. Mickelson missed Franklin Langham's 2000 record of 129 and the No. 4 player in the world can seem to do no wrong.
 
'The only thing that matters is leading on Sunday and that's kind of the goal right now,' said Mickelson, who leads the tour's money list. 'I haven't really thought about it much this week because there's so many good players right there.'
 
Andrade recorded a great bogey at the famed 'Blue Monster' at Doral Golf Resort and Spa. He finished with a second-round, 6-under-par 66 for a two-day total of 12-under-par 132.
 
Jose Maria Olazabal, who was one of four first-round co-leaders, shot a 3-under 69 on Friday and is alone in third place at 11-under-par 133. Billy Mayfair carded his second 5-under 67 in as many rounds and is fourth at minus-10.
 
This year's field boasts 11 of the top-12 players in the world rankings, with Ernie Els (No. 3) the only exception. Several of those players are in the group tied for fifth at 9-under-par 135.
 
Top-ranked Vijay Singh mixed six birdies and one bogey for a 5-under 67.
 
'I'm really happy with the way I'm striking the ball,' said Singh. 'I'm really disappointed I could have made one or two more under but that's the way it goes.'
 
Tiger Woods, the second-ranked player who can reclaim the top spot this week, was even after his first six holes, but rattled off four consecutive birdies around the turn to take the top spot.
 
Things turned quickly for Woods as he dropped a shot at the second, his 11th on Friday. He three-putted from 34 feet for another bogey at three and made it three consecutive bogeys at four when he three-putted from 33 feet.
 
'My bogeys were caused by a couple of three-putts and then on top of that, I made some poor decisions in commitment into the greens and consequently made two more bogeys on top of that,' admitted Woods.
 
Woods sank an 8-foot birdie putt at the fifth to get in the logjam at minus-9.
 
Also in the top 12 in the rankings and tied for fifth are Toms (66) and Stewart Cink (65). Defending champion Craig Parry (66), Langham (67), Joey Snyder III (69), Tim Clark (67), Hunter Mahan (69), James Driscoll (68) and first-round co-leader Brian Davis (71) joined the top players five out of the lead.
 
All of these great players are looking up at Mickelson on the weekend.
 
He opened on the back nine Friday and collected his first birdie at the par-5 12th. Mickelson's 3-wood came up short of the green, but he wedged his approach to 3 feet and converted the short birdie putt.
 
At the 372-yard, par-4 16th, Mickelson drove into a greenside bunker and blasted out to 6 feet. He made that birdie putt and added another at 18 when his 30-footer from the fringe was hit too hard, but found the bottom of the cup.
 
On the second nine, Mickelson kept his strong play going. The lefthander hit a 3-wood into a bunker at the par-5 first and hit his third to a foot. He tapped in the birdie putt and made it three birdies in a row with a 15-footer at two.
 
Mickelson parred his next six holes and found himself in a tie for the lead with Andrade. After Andrade bogeyed 18, Mickelson knocked a 7-iron to 8 feet and rolled in the putt for the two-stroke lead.
 
'I didn't necessarily hit the ball as well as yesterday, but I was able to salvage a lot of pars with my short game,' said Mickelson. 'That led to a bogey-free round which was really nice.'
 
Andrade was on fire on the front nine with six birdies and a single bogey. He ran home a 12-foot birdie putt at the 12th, then hit a spectacular wedge 2 feet short of the hole for a tap-in birdie at 17.
 
Andrade found trouble off the tee at the dreaded 'Blue Monster.' His drive went left into the water and he had a horrible lie for his third after the drop. Andrade's third went right of the green in a patch of grass near the bunkers. He chipped 20 feet short of the flag, but converted the bogey putt.
 
'Sometimes you make bad fives, and sometimes you make great fives,' said Andrade, who barely retained his card last season by taking 124th on the final money list. 'That was definitely a great five.'
 
There are some great players in a tie for 16th at minus-8. Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (69), former winner Jim Furyk (66), Sergio Garcia (68) and Paul Casey (70) headline the group six behind Mickelson.
 
The 36-hole cut fell at 3-under-par 141 and first-round co-leader Marco Dawson made it on the number after a round of 77. Justin Leonard (145), Davis Love III (147) and Adam Scott 147), all ranked in the top-20 in the world, missed the cut.
 
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    Molinari reflects on beating Woods at Ryder Cup, Open

    By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 9:11 am

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Francesco Molinari might be a useful resource for the European Ryder Cup team.

    He’s already beaten Tiger Woods, head to head, at a Ryder Cup and a major.

    Molinari was in the anchor match at the 2012 Ryder Cup when Woods conceded on the final hole to give the Europeans an outright victory in the incredible comeback at Medinah. He said the last hole was a “blur,” and it remains the last Ryder Cup that both Molinari and Woods played.

    “I’ve improved a lot as a player since 2012,” said Molinari, who lost his previous singles match against Woods in 2010, 4 and 3, “and I hope to show that on the course this week.”

    The proof is the claret jug that he now keeps at home.


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    To win his first major he needed to not only endure the circus that a Woods group brings, but he needed to outlast the 14-time major champion and a host of other worthy contenders to prevail at Carnoustie.

    Reflecting on that momentous day Tuesday, Molinari said he initially was dreading the final-round date with Woods.

    “If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t exactly hoping to be paired with Tiger, not because I don’t like to play with him, but because, obviously, the hype and with him being in contention in a major, it’s going to be noisy and it’s going to be a lot of people," he said. 

    “So the most challenging part was probably that moment when the draw came out, but then I quickly managed to think, You know, whatever. I don’t really care. I’m here to do a job, and they can’t really influence how I do my job.”  

    To thrive in that situation gave Molinari a lot of confidence – especially heading into a pressure-cooker like the Ryder Cup.

    Asked whether it’s more pressure trying to win a major or a Ryder Cup – since he’s now done both – Molinari said: “You won’t believe me, but it’s nowhere near. Carnoustie was nowhere near Medinah or in any matching ways. It’s hard to believe, but it’s probably because you play for a team; you play for a continent in our case, and you know about the tradition and what players have done in the past.”

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    Woods 25/1 to break Nicklaus' record by age 50

    By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 9:05 am

    With his victory at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods crept closer to Sam Snead's all-time PGA Tour wins mark. But he also got fans thinking about whether golf's most famous record is once again in play.

    Woods has been stuck on 14 career major titles since the 2008 U.S. Open, although he had a pair of close calls this summer. But now that he's again a winner on Tour, oddsmakers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook created bets on where Woods' career major haul will end up.

    The line they drew in the sand? Dec. 30, 2025 - when Woods, now 42, will turn 50 years old.

    According to the Westgate, Woods is a -150 favorite to win at least one more major by that time. He's 2/1 to win at least two more, 5/1 to win at least three more and 12/1 to win at least four more. But it'll take five more majors to break Nicklaus' record haul of 18, and the odds on Woods doing that by age 50 are set at 25/1.

    There are also odds on Woods' 2019 major prospects, as he's already the betting favorite for the Masters at 9/1. Woods' odds of winning any major next year are listed at +225, while the pessimists can wager -275 that his major victory drought will extend to at least 2020.

    There's even a bet for those expecting some serious history: the odds of Woods sweeping all four majors next year at age 43 are 200/1.

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    All 12 Europeans have history at Le Golf National

    By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:55 am

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European team has plenty of experience at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National, which has been the longtime host of the French Open.

    The question this week is whether it’ll matter.

    The only American player to compete in this year’s French Open was Justin Thomas. Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Bubba Watson all got a look at Le Golf National before The Open.

    Not surprisingly, the European team has a proven track record here – all 12 players have seen the course at some point. Alex Noren won in July. Tommy Fleetwood is a past champion, too. So is European vice captain Graeme McDowell. Francesco Molinari and assistant Lee Westwood also have runners-up here.


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    “I definitely think it’s a help to us, for sure,” Ian Poulter said. “It’s probably the most-played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played. So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions. I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.”

    Of course, this setup is no different than what players typically experience as they prepare for a major championship. They’ll play 18 holes each of the next two days, then maybe nine holes on Thursday, as they get a feel for the layout.  

    “When it’s the best players in the world, and we play on golf courses week-in and week-out where we have to learn a new golf course, it’s difficult to say how much of an advantage it will be,” Fleetwood said. “It can only be a good thing, or it can’t do any harm that we know the course better or that we’ve played it more times.

    “Knowledge can only be a good thing. Maybe it’s a little advantage, but it’s the best players in the world that are out here, so it’s not something to look at too much.”

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    First-tee grandstand 'biggest you'll ever see'

    By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:27 am

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The first-tee nerves could be even more intense this week at the Ryder Cup.

    If only because of the atmosphere.

    The grandstand surrounding the first hole at Le Golf National is unlike anything that’s ever been seen at this event – a 6,500-seat behemoth that dwarfs the previous arenas.

    “It’s the biggest grandstand you’ll ever see at a golf tournament,” Tommy Fleetwood said.


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    “It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had to hit that tee shot before,” Ian Poulter said. “When I think back (to my first Ryder Cup) in 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it’s going to be very interesting to see.”

    Poulter said it’ll be his job to prepare, as best he can, the team’s rookies for what they’ll experience when the first ball goes in the air Friday morning.

    “The No. 1 thing I’ve pictured since the Ryder Cup became a goal is that first tee shot,” Fleetwood said. “But nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big – there’s no denying that.

    “It’s something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you just have to take it on and let it all happen.”