|CA Championship -- WGC - March 08, 2010
WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS-
TPC Blue Monster at Doral
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 7,334
Winner's FedExCup Points Share: 550
Purse: $8,500,000Winner: $1,530,000
2009 Champion: Phil Mickelson (269, -20)
Mickelson Had Breakthrough Season with
Two World Golf Championships Victories
The 2009 season became the year that Phil Mickelson finally broke through in the World Golf Championships. Battling illness all day Sunday, Mickelson shot a 3-under 69 in the final round to outduel Nick Watney by a stroke to win the World Golf Championships-CA Championship. Eight months later, Mickelson won the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China.
Mickelson, who missed winning at TPC Blue Monster at Doral in 2005 when he fell by a stroke to Tiger Woods at the Ford Championship at Doral, atoned for that tournament loss by putting only 99 times all week a year ago, matching the best putting performance of his career. He also had 99 putts at the 1998 MCI Classic at Hilton Head Island, SC.
A star-studded, international field is on hand this week, led by Mickelson, the world’s third-ranked player. In 2010, Mickelson has made four PGA TOUR starts, with a tie for eighth at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am his best showing.
PUERTO RICO OPEN
Trump International Golf Club - Puerto Rico
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 7,526
Winner's FedExCup Points Share: 250
Purse: $3,500,000Winner: $630,000
2009 Champion: Michael Bradley (274, -14)
Win in Puerto Rico Ended Bradley's Drought
In 1998, Michael Bradley picked up his second PGA TOUR title, winning at the Doral-Ryder Open. He was 32 and seemingly moving into his prime. Injuries slowed things for Bradley, and after playing 211 events between 1993 and 2000, he only managed to play 46 from 2001 to 2007. Bradley showed a possible return to form at the conclusion of the 2008 season, and he entered the 2009 Puerto Rico Open without any expectations. To say he exceeded them would be an understatement.
Bradley took a share of the third-round lead and then fired a final-round 70 at Trump International Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, to edge Jason Day by a stroke. His $630,000 payday was the largest of his career.
This is the third year of the Puerto Rico Open and the third at Trump International Golf Club. This season, Bradley has played five events, making three cuts. His top finish was at the season-opening SBS Championship, where he tied for 25th. He also tied for 33rd at the Farmers Insurance Open.
World Golf Championships-
CA Championship Notes
The TPC Blue Monster at Doral, which has played host to PGA TOUR tournaments since 1962, became part of the TPC Network in November 2009. The course's 18th hole is traditionally one of the most-difficult finishing holes in golf. In 2008, the 18th played as the most-difficult hole on the PGA TOUR. In 2009, it ranked No. 2, with an average score of almost a half-stroke over par.
Ian Poulter earned his first PGA TOUR victory at the first World Golf Championships event of the season, the Accenture Match Play Championship, by defeating Paul Casey in the 36-hole match-play final. Poulter finished runner-up at the 2006 CA Championhip but has not finished better than tie for 13th since the event moved to TPC Blue Monster at Doral in 2007.
Of those who qualified for the CA Championship, only Tiger Woods and Ryo Ishikawa are not competing. Ishikawa, who won his first Japan Golf Tour event as a 15-year-old amateur, is graduating from his high school, Suginami Gakuin, in his native Japan on Monday, March 8.
By playing in the Accenture Match Play Championship last month, Italian brothers Francesco Molinari and Edoardo Molinari became the first brothers to qualify for the same World Golf Championships event. They both qualified to play in their second consecutive World Golf Championships event. The Italian duo recently made history, at the OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup, when they became the first brother team to win the event. The Molinaris outlasted Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson.
Steve Stricker enters the CA Championship as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The eight-time PGA TOUR winner is coming off the best season of his career, having captured three PGA TOUR events (Crowne Plaza Invitational, John Deere Classic, Deutsche Bank Championship); he is one of just nine players since 2000 to win three or more times in a season (Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Kenny Perry, Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson and David Toms are the others). All but Woods and Love are playing this week, while Stricker picked up where he left off in 2009. He won near Los Angeles earlier this season, at the Northern Trust Open.
In an effort to keep the field size closer to 75 (it has been around 80 for the past four years), the International Federation of PGA Tours unanimously approved a change in this year’s eligibility requirements. Most notably, only the top two (not top three as in years past) from the previous year’s Orders of Merit for the Japan Golf Tour, Australasian Tour, Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour are eligible. In addition, the current FedExCup and European Order of Merit top 10 come from the latest standings instead of the two most-recent standings.
Puerto Rico Open Notes
Three native Puerto Ricans are playing this week. They are Rafael Campos, Max Alverio and Erick Morales. Campos is a San Juan native and current Virginia Commonwealth golf team member who be competing in his third Puerto Rico Open. His best finish in the event was a tie for 78th in 2008. Alverio is from Aibonito, playing for the second time in this event. He missed the cut a year ago. Morales is from Dorado, and in the first two Puerto Rico Opens, he caddied for Miguel Suarez and Max Alverio, respectively. Morales qualified this year by winning the Island Chapter Open Qualifier in a playoff over, ironically, Suarez. Morales played collegiately at Rutgers.
Boo Weekley, a two-time PGA TOUR champion, is seeking a return to form as he plays this week. Weekley suffered a shoulder injury midway through the 2009 season. His best finish this season is a tie for 33rd at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Tom Pernice, Jr. won in his Champions Tour debut last fall when he captured the SAS Championship. Pernice has made three PGA TOUR starts in 2010 (making the cut in all three), with his top finish a tie for 21st at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Trump International course designer Tom Kite is making his first PGA TOUR start since the 2008 Puerto Rico Open. Kite has made two Champions Tour starts this season, with his top finish a tie for 11th at The ACE Group Classic. Kite tied for 33rd last week at the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, CA.
Trump International Golf Club is one of the longest courses on TOUR, checking in at 7,526 yards.
E NOTES FROM THE PGA TOUR
Phil Mickelson will be back on TOUR this week looking to defend his title at the World Golf Championships-CA Championship. Mickelson has successfully defended a title five times in his career—1995-96 Tucson, 2000-2001 Farmers Insurance Open, 2001-2002 Travelers Championship, 2005-2006 BellSouth Classic and the 2008-2009 Northern Trust Open.
The key to Phil Mickelson’s 2009 victory at the CA Championship? His putting. Mickelson needed only a career-equaling low of 99 putts for the week in earning his one-stroke victory over Nick Watney.
You might want to keep an eye on Jim Furyk this week. In 13 starts at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral course he’s had six Top-10 finishes, including a victory in 2000 and runner-up efforts in 2003 and 2008.
If you want to win the CA Championship, you’ll need to successfully navigate the famed par-4 18th hole. The water-lined finishing hole was the second toughest hole on the PGA TOUR last year, playing to a stroke average of 4.479. The 18th was the toughest hole on TOUR in both 2004 and 2007.
If 354 points gets you into the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup as it did last year, 22 players have already earned enough to qualify after just 10 events. Dustin Johnson holds the top spot with 793 points, but is only 13 points ahead of Steve Stricker and 20 over Camilo Villegas.
The last six winners of The Honda Classic have hailed from six different countries—Ireland, England, the U.S., South Africa, South Korea and Colombia.
Keeping with the international theme, 25 countries will be represented at this week’s CA Championship and Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular.
One more on international play: There were seven countries represented among the Top 10 at last week’s The Honda Classic—Colombia, U.S., England, Fiji, Sweden, South Korea and Zimbabwe.
The PGA TOUR is also on the island of Puerto Rico this week for the third annual Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular. Among the entrants this week is Julio Santos, who is believed to be the first native of the Dominican Republic to play in an official PGA TOUR event.
Not only has Fred Couples finished 2-1-1 in his first three career starts on the Champions Tour, he’s also had nine consecutive rounds in the 60s and is a collective 56-under.
He hasn’t been quite as hot as Couples, but Tom Lehman is also off to a great start this year, too. He also has nine consecutive rounds in the 60s to his credit and is 42-under for the season.
You want to win on the Champions Tour, you better go low. The four winning scores this season have been 194, 199, 199 and 195.
He might be 60, but Tom Watson hasn’t lost a thing. His final-round 62 last week at the Toshiba Classic equaled the low round of his career. He’s had three 62s on the Champions Tour while his PGA TOUR career low was 63.
PGA TOUR veteran Steve Pate became the oldest winner in Nationwide Tour history when he won last week’s Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open. Pate was 48 years, 9 months and 11 days old at the time of his victory to break the old mark of 48-6-17 set by Dick Mast at the 1999 New Mexico Classic.
The victory by Camilo Villegas last week at The Honda Classic was the 266th by a former Nationwide Tour player on the PGA TOUR and the sixth this season.
It was a good week for the Villegas brothers. Camilo’s younger brother, Manuel, finished T15 at the Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open in their home country of Colombia.
The Nationwide Tour will take two weeks off before beginning the North American portion of the schedule at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by Dynamic Industries the week of Mar. 22-28.