Singh Stays on Top at Mercedes

By Sports NetworkJanuary 7, 2005, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Vijay Singh, the No. 1 player in the world, fired an 8-under 65 on Friday to extend his lead after 36 holes of the season-opening Mercedes Championships. He stands at 15-under-par 131 and is two ahead of Mike Weir at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort.
 
This event is reserved for the 32 winners last year on the PGA Tour. Masters winner Phil Mickelson is the only player eligible for the tournament who did not attend.
 
Weir posted the lowest round of the day on Friday with a 10-under-par 63. He is alone at 13-under-par 133, while Ernie Els, who carded a second-round 65, has sole possession of third place at minus-12.
 
Jonathan Kaye and Sergio Garcia each put together rounds of 6-under 67 and are knotted in fourth place at 11-under-par 135.
 
Tiger Woods, who won this tournament in 1997 and 2000, could not get a putt to fall on Friday and the 663-yard closing hole was a great indication of that. He reached the green in two, but three-putted from 15 feet for a par.
 
'I had my chances to post a good, solid round,' said Woods, who missed six birdie putts inside 12 feet on Friday. 'We've never putted the greens this slow before. You have to make the adjustment. I'm having a difficult time making the adjustment.'
 
Woods finished with his second 5-under 68 in as many days. He is tied for sixth place with Ryder Cup teammates Chad Campbell and Stewart Cink, who also shot 68s in the second round, at minus-10.
 
Singh flew out of the gate on Friday. He drained a 10-footer for birdie at the first and knocked a 7-iron to 4 feet to set up a birdie at the 202-yard, par-3 second.
 
The Fijian parred three and four, but ran home a 15-foot eagle putt at the fifth to go 4 under through his first five holes. Singh birdied the sixth, then made a 60-footer for birdie at seven. The No. 1 player hit a spectacular 7-iron inside 4 feet at eight, but missed the birdie putt, starting a run of suspect golf.
 
He pulled his drive into tall grass at the ninth, but found the ball and made an unlikely par. Singh parred the next two holes then rolled in an 8-foot birdie putt at the 12th.
 
Singh parred the next five holes. He failed to find the green with his second at 18, but chipped to 6 feet and converted the birdie putt.
 
'I played well,' said Singh, who is the only player in the field without a bogey. 'I didn't make too many mistakes. The putts kind of dried up on the back nine, but I made a lot on the front.'
 
Singh overcame a missing driver on the range to match the third lowest score in the second round. After nine wins, the money title and Player of the Year award in 2004, Singh is confident he can continue his run into the weekend.
 
'I'm looking forward to. I'm putting well and playing well,' said Singh. 'I made my share of putts out there and hopefully I'll have another one tomorrow.'
 
Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, broke into red figures with a 5-foot birdie putt at the par-3 second hole. He made it two in a row at three, then recorded back-to-back birdies at five and six. The Canadian drained a 10-footer for eagle at the ninth to make the turn at 6-under-par 30.
 
'I got off to a great start,' admitted Weir, who won last year's Nissan Open to get into this field. 'After I made that eagle on No. 9, I was 6 under at the turn. I felt like I had something special going.'
 
Weir bogeyed the 10th, but rebounded with a birdie at No. 11. He birdied the 14th, then went on a run that vaulted him into second place. Weir sank a 12-foot birdie putt at 16, holed a 35-foot birdie putt at 17 and closed with his third birdie in a row to trail Singh by only two.
 
'I wasn't expecting to shoot that low of a round because I haven't been playing,' said Weir. 'I've been off for seven weeks and haven't been playing any golf at all. Practicing quite hard but not playing. Just nice to see some nice putts go in and I hit the ball pretty well today.'
 
Stuart Appleby, the defending champion, got back into the mix on Friday. He fired a 9-under 64 and is part of a group tied for ninth place. Reigning U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen (67), former PGA Champion David Toms (67) and Vaughn Taylor (69) joined Appleby at 8-under-par 138.
 
Craig Parry, who was alone in second place after an opening-round 67, struggled to a 1-under 72 and is now tied for 13th place at 7-under-par 139.
 
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    U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2018, 12:29 am

    The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.

    Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.

    "It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.

    Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.

    Singles results

    Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3

    Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up

    Match 3 —  Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)

    Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2

    Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2

    Match 6 —  Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1

    Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up

    Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up

    Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1

    Match 10 —  Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1

    Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)

    Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up

     

    TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

    Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

    Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

    Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

     This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.

     

    -NBC Sports Group-

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    Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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    Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

    SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

    He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

    The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

    He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

    “I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

    It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

    For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.


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    Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

    In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

    Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

    For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

    “You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

    But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

    “At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

    In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

    His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

    As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

    “We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

    “Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

    It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

    Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

    “Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

    If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

    Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

    Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.