Tag:torrey pines friday
Posted on: January 28, 2011 8:14 pm

Lefty's view from Torrey is best in a decade

SAN DIEGO -- Phil Mickelson has three career victories in his hometown, San Diego, but as as almost any self-respecting homeboy from hereabouts already knows, it's been a while since Lefty visited the winner's circle.

The last time Mickelson won at Torrey Pines was in 2001, the year before the course was completely revamped by designer Rees Jones, who, truth be told, isn't Lefty's favorite course architect. Put another way, when Mickelson last won on his former high-school home course, Rickie Fowler, now 22 and tied for third with Phil, was barely sniffing puberty.

Mickelson shot a 3-under 69 on Friday at the Farmers Insurance Open and moved into a seven-way tie for third at 8 under, three shots behind leader Billy Haas.

On a course where Mickelson long ago lost his home-field advantage, his halfway total represents his lowest 36-hole standing relative to par since he won here in '01 and was 12 under heading into the third round.

It ought to be an eventful weekend, with hometown kid Lefty, a revitalized John Daly and revamped Tiger Woods all in the weekend mix at five shots off the lead or closer.

"I am looking forward to it," Mickelson said. "I feel like I have a decent idea of how I want to play the golf course, also I have a good idea of what the breaks are going to do on the greens because I've been here now so many years and have studied them.

"I'm confident heading into the weekend."

It's been awhile since he's said that about the South course, where the greens were rebuilt a decade ago and the breaks and nuances he'd learned since childhood disappeared with the scrape of a bulldozer blade.

Mickelson actually fired a better round Thursday, a 67 on the South, than he did Friday on the easier North. He's right in the weekend cauldron with a slew of name players, including the guys he'll be paired with Saturday, fellow lefty Bubba Watson and Fowler, his Ryder Cup mates from last fall.

Mickelson liked the view from where he stood after Friday's workday, and he wasn't talking about the million-dollar vistas afforded by the golf course itself, where more near-perfect weather is expected on the weekend.

"It's a good spot," he said. "Now you have a better idea of how you stand. With guys playing different golf courses, you don't know exactly where you are in the field the first two days. But I should be in good position heading into the weekend."

Maybe even coming out of it, too.

Category: Golf
Posted on: January 28, 2011 7:36 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2011 9:40 pm

Late nights to late Sunday tee times for A.K.

SAN DIEGO -- After six months he'd rather forget, Anthony Kim seems ready to re-establish himself as one of the  game's rising stars.

Kim had major hand surgery last season after winning in the spring in Houston, then tried to come back three months later in an attempt to land a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

Noble idea.

Disastrous results.

Not only did Kim struggle and fail to secure a spot on the squad, he imbued some bad habits in his swing while protecting his hand, so he had to rectify those issues in the offseason, too.

Finally healthy, Kim shot a memorable, 5-under 67 at the Farmers Insurance Classic on Friday, outplaying pairings partner Tiger Woods to move within two shots of leader Billy Haas.

Kim, 25 and already a three-time winner, birdied his first four holes on Friday on the punitive South course, then hung on to move into contention for the first time in months.

His coach, Adam Schriber, senses that Kim if finally over whatever hurdles, mental or physical, he has been experiencing since the surgery, which affected two parts of his left hand.

"He can physically beat it, but who is to say when full strength comes back?" Schriber said. "I'd guess it might take a little awhile longer, but it's light years better than it was last year when he was trying to make the Ryder Cup team.

"Though he looks pretty good right now."

Not just on the course.

Kim showed up for 2011 looking downright svelte. He's down to 166 pounds and has a 30-inch waist, thanks to an early morning workout regimen that most folks who believe he's purely a nocturnal party animal would find hard to believe.

"He's been paying for a couple of slips and some of his past behavior," Schriber said. "He's a good kid and he gets it now. He knows what he wants."

Which is what, exactly?

"To prove to everybody out here how good he can be," Schriber said.

Kim definitely sprayed it around on Friday at times, but was making acres of putts. Kim already has 17 one-putt greens and two no-putts greens in 36 holes. That'll help.

"Anthony, I wouldn't say, hit it as good as he wanted to," Woods said. "He said he's hit it better in the first two events he's played in. But obviously he's making everything. If he puts it together on the weekend, he's going to be tough."

There was a bit of extra-curricular excitement in the pairing of Kim, Woods and Rocco Mediate, who missed the cut. A fan who had several beer bottles at his feet was dragged off by authorities as the group putted on the 13th green.

A San Diego policeman said the fan was drunk and had been warned repeatedly by marshals to stop being verbally unruly, so they removed him before he interrupted play as one of the marquee groups approached the green.

In handcuffs.

Category: Golf
Posted on: January 28, 2011 7:10 pm

Woods goes against the grains at Torrey

SAN DIEGO -- It was foreshadowing, for sure.

Or more accurately, as it relates to the more proper spelling, fore shadowing.

Tiger Woods yanked his tee shot on the first hole on Friday into a fairway bunker at Torrey Pines, then plopped the second into a greenside trap.

On a scenic seaside course perched on the cliffs, his wild day at the beach was only beginning.

Woods somehow salvaged a 3-under 69 that left him five strokes off the lead at the Farmers Insurance Open, despite the fact that his caddie Steve Williams probably needed to re-grip his rake after the round.

Woods hit an astonishing 13 shots from bunkers in the second round on the Torrey Pines South course -- twice leaving balls in greenside traps when his first attempt failed to escape the sand -- yet kept his foot in the door by making enough putts to span the Pacific Ocean.

Woods, still very much coming to grips with new swing changes and fighting off old swing habits, didn’t hit the ball particularly well. Although, in the bunkers, he hit it particularly often.

"I shouldn't have been in them," he said.

Woods, who has won his last five starts at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, had four straight birdies early in the round, then went the other direction. He bogeyed three times in a five-hole span on his back nine when he wasted a couple of shots in the greenside sand.

Woods is playing in Dubai in two weeks, so maybe he was getting in some extra prep for the Middle East desert. He left balls in greenside sand on Nos. 11 and 14 when he fatted shots that didn’t come close to reaching the putting surface.

He managed to stave off disaster with his putter. Each time he left the ball in a greenside trap, he got up and down on his next sand effort to keep from falling out of the mix, if not blowing up momentum or confidence.

His biggest save was on the 17th. His approach shot buried in the lip of a greenside trap and Woods took a one-legged flamingo-type stance, hacked it out and made a 20-footer that precipitated the biggest fist pump of 2011 to date.

On notoriously bumpy greens, he had 11 one-putt greens and made a total of 122 1/2 feet of putts over 18 holes, including two to salvage bogey and five to save par. Only one other player made a bigger cumulative total of putts Friday.

"I did putt well today, I hit a lot of good putts," he said. "Yesterday I left myself in bad spots, but I was happy with how many good putts I hit. Hit a few bad ones, but I hit a lot of good ones. Today I was in some better spots."

That applies to his position on the board, too. He moved into a tie for 12th and is five shots behind Billy Haas, who could prove tough to catch. Last week, Haas rallied and nearly stole the Bob Hope Classic title before losing in a three-man playoff. Haas won twice last year.

Category: Golf
Posted on: January 28, 2011 2:22 pm

Bumpy greens? Not to A.K.

SAN DIEGO -- Anthony Kim bopped balls all over Torrey Pines in his opening round on Thursday, his hand flying off the club at times in disgust, when he wasn't pointing in a certain direction to warn fans down the gallery ropes which way his latest misfire was headed.

But he putted the Farmers Insureance Open like he instead was rolling balls on the pool-table greens at Augusta National, not the bumpy West Coast greens that so often draw criticism (see U.S. Open, Pebble Beach) from players when in California.

Kim had eight one-putt greens on Thursday, and also holed a 30-foot putt from the fringe and holed a pitch shot for a pair of zero-putts on the statistics log -- and he was just getting started.

Kim, who is certainly in fighting trim after working hard on his conditioning in the offseason -- his waist size is down to 30 inches -- one-putted his first four holes of his second round on the touhger South course on Friday from distances of 6, 4, 15 and 17 feet for birdies to clain a share of the early lead at 8 under.

Kim had 28 putts in his first 22 holes on the bumpy poa annua greens.

Category: Golf
Posted on: January 28, 2011 1:49 pm

Tiger improves on 2008 already, sorta

SAN DIEGO -- Tiger Woods is already a step ahead of his pace from one of his most fateful, memorable wins, in 2008.

Well, at least on the scorecard. Perhaps not in flawless execution.

Woods famously won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, though he had a brutal time handling the South course's somewhat straightforward first hole, a 450-yard par 4. Indeed, that hole easily could have cost him the title.

Woods had a staggering three double-bogeys and one birdie on the hole, playing it in 5 over. For context, consider that Woods finished regulation at 1 under overall.

Friday's second round of the Farmers Insurance Open marked the first time since 2008 that Woods revisited the hole, and not much changed except the score. He took a spectacularly scenic path to par, whacking his tee shot into a fairway bunker, his approach into a greenside trap, then saving par with a scary 11-footer to keep from losing more ground on the leaders.

The Woods camp hasn't forgotten Tiger's travails on the South course's opener. Caddie Steve Williams cracked to a writer during the pro-am round on Wednesday, when Woods kept the  ball in play, that he personally hadn't "seen the fairway since 2007."

When Woods finally found the short grass in the Open playoff three years ago, his fifth round of the week, he made a funny gesture of relief, prompting playing partner Rocco Mediate to crack, "Now you find the fairway."

Woods has won his last five pro starts at Torrey.

Category: Golf
Posted on: January 28, 2011 12:19 pm

Torrey leader has Tiger connection

SAN DIEGO -- Turns out that the surprise first-round leader of the Farmers Insurance Open has a little something in common with the guy who has won at this site the last five times it has hosted a pro event.

Sunghoon Kang, a rookie from South Korea who navigated his way through PGA Tour Qualifying School last fall, shot an 8-under 64 on Thursday on the North course to outpace the big boys in the field, including former world No. 1 Tiger Woods.

Kang, whose English is impressive, played a good bit as an amateur in the States before starting his pro career on the Korean tour, where he was rookie of the year. When he was in Dallas a few years back, he decided to see if a cartain swing coach might want to work with him.

Hank Haney said yes.

"I went to Dallas, and I get there and asked him to help me," Kang explained. "But then he got Tiger, and he kind of got busy."

Understandable enough.

"He was kind of busy to watch me," Kang said.

The 24-year-old, a semifinalist in the U.S. Junior and Publinks events as an amateur, now works with instructor Don Brown. Kang, who missed the cut at the Sony Open two weeks ago, is playing in only his second PGA Tour event this week.,

Early nominee: Tweet-of-the-year honors
This inspired bit of comedic ingenuity deserves more than a polite tip of the golf cap. First, England's Justin Rose took a playful photo of PGA Tour player Lucas Glover this week. Glover, who won the U.S. Open at Bethpage two years ago, is the decidedly unshaven guy in the linked photo below.

Rose then posted the link along with the Tweeted note: "Winning a U.S. Open: So easy, a caveman could do it!"


Category: Golf
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