Sunday, March 27, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 3-27-2011

 LAIRD WINS AT BAY HILL
 Martin Laird needed two putts from just inside 90 feet on the 18th hole, for victory at Bay Hill which didn’t seem all that long considering what he already had been through Sunday.

First came a stunning collapse that took him from a three-shot lead to a three-shot deficit in a span of seven holes. He was three shots behind when he walked off the 14th green, two shots ahead as he headed to the 17th tee.

Laird knocked the first putt up to 3 1/2 feet, then jabbed his fist when he rolled in the par putt to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

In the toughest final round on the PGA Tour this year, Laird was strong at the end with two birdies and two clutch pars to close with a 3-over 75, the highest final round by a winner in the 33-year history at Bay Hill.

That two-putt par on the 18th was just enough for a one-shot victory over hard-luck Steve Marino, who lost three shots on two plugged lies in bunkers over the last four holes. Marino followed a double bogey on the par-3 17th with an all-or-nothing shot over the water at the flag to 8 feet on the last hole for birdie and a 72.

Laird, a 28-year-old who came to America to play college golf and never left, became the first European to win at Bay Hill. He now heads off to the Masters for the first major of the year, having felt like he just won one.

Laird needed some help from Marino, who played beautifully until the last four holes.
Marino went at the flag on the 15th, tucked right behind the bunker, and his ball plugged in the soft sand. He blasted out to 35 feet and made bogey. Then came the 17th, and a 6-iron that he thought was good all the way until the crowd groaned.

He blasted out over the green, putted up the slope to 5 feet and missed the bogey putt.
Justin Rose closed with a 68 and tied for third with David Toms and Marc Leishman, who needed to win to get into the Masters.

Tiger Woods, a six-time winner at Bay Hill, was poised for a second straight top 10 until he made bogey from the bunker on the 17th and hit his approach into the water on No. 18 for double bogey and a 72. In his final tournament before the Masters, Woods tied for 24th, seven shots behind. Phil Mickelson dropped three shots on the last five holes for a 73 to also finish in a tie for 24th.



 GERMAN WINS IN L.A. EVENT
Sandra Gal won the Kia Classic on Sunday to become the second German winner in LPGA history, beating second-ranked Jiyai Shin with a 2-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

The 25-year-old Gal made the winning putt after Shin’s 5-foot birdie attempt caught the right edge and spun out.

Gal closed with a 2-under 71 to finish at 16-under 276 on the Industry Hills Golf Club course at Pacific Palms. She set up the winning birdie with a wedge shot on the par-5 18th.

Shin, an eight-time winner on the LPGA, finished with a 73.

Cristie Kerr shot a 66 to tie for third with I.K. Kim  at 11 under.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng and Na Yeon Choi were 9 under, and Michelle Wie  was another stroke back along with Marcy Hart  and Mindy Kim .

Shin took a one-stroke lead over Gal into the final round, but dropped two strokes back with three bogeys on the front nine. The South Korean pulled even on the par-3 13th, making a birdie while Gal had her lone bogey of the day.

Shin took a one-stroke lead with a birdie on the par-3 15th, and Gal countered with a birdie on the par-4 16th to set up the finish. On 18, Gal’s wedge shot hit past the hole and spun back, nearly going in the hole.




 LAWRIE WINS ANDALUCIAN OPEN
 Paul Lawrie won the Andalucian Open on Sunday for his first European Tour victory since 2002 and sixth overall after holding off Johan Edfors of Sweden by one stroke.
The 42-year-old Lawrie shot an even-par 70 for a 12-under 268 total and become the oldest golfer to win the event.

The 1999 British Open winner hit only one bogey in the first three rounds, but bogeyed three of his first five holes Sunday before recovering with four birdies on the back nine.

Edfors shot a 68, including a bogey on the 15th.

Kenneth Ferrie began the day one stroke behind Lawrie, the overnight leader, after tying the European Tour record with a 60 in the third round. But the Englishman shot a 75 on Sunday to finish at 274.



WETTERICH WINS THE LOUISIANA OPEN
PGA Tour winner Brett Wetterich won the Nationwide Tour’s Louisiana Open for the second time, closing with a 2-under 69 on Sunday for a one-stroke victory over University of Florida senior Andres Echavarria.

The 37-year-old Wetterich, the 2006 Byron Nelson Championship winner, finished at 13-under 271 at Le Triomphe Country Club. Also, the 2003 Louisiana Open, he earned $90,000 for this third Nationwide title.

Echavarria, from Colombia, shot a 67. Bubba Dickerson was third at 11 under, and John Kimbell , Carl Paulson and Rich Barcelo followed at 10 under.

Wetterich had 14 birdies and two pars on four par 5s.



 IN OTHER NEWS
 Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer had surgery on his left thumb and will miss the next two months, ending his streak of 27 consecutive appearances at Augusta National.


Langer sustained the fluke injury six months ago while riding his bike to the beach, and it never properly healed.

Langer, who has missed the cut the last five times at the Masters, won his first green jacket in 1985, and returned to Augusta Natioinal the following year as No. 1 in the world when the world ranking was first published. He won his second Masters in 1993.

He said he still plans to attend the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night and be at the Masters for other obligations.



 Michelle Wie has been too busy with finals at Stanford to have a problem with the LPGA Tour’s light early schedule.

She found time to play this weekend at the Kia Classic.

Wie won the Canadian Women’s Open last season for her second LPGA Tour title. She has played two of the first three events this year, finishing second last month in the season-opening event in Thailand and 40th the following week in Singapore.

Wie is a Kia endorser and played  the Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms for the first time.
“It’s pretty tough,” Wie said. “It’s a good golf course. It’s tricky.”

The tournament is the tour’s first in the Los Angeles area in six years. Last year at La Costa in Carlsbad, Hee Kyung Seo won her first LPGA Tour title, beating Inbee Park by six strokes.

The top 14 players in the world ranking were in the field, led by No. 1 Yani Tseng. She won in Thailand and has three other worldwide victories this year.



 LPGA golfer Ai Miyazato spent four days fearing the worst after the earthquake and tsunami devastated northern Japan.


When she finally learned her friends were safe in tsunami-flattened Sendai, she resolved to join her fellow Japanese players in helping their homeland’s recovery while still pursuing their careers.

Ai Miyazato, Momoku Ueda and Mika Miyazato are returning to the LPGA Tour this week at the Kia Classic in suburban Los Angeles. They announced plans Tuesday to channel their grief into disaster relief through a fundraising website and a supportive logo to wear in upcoming tournaments.

The three players have paid to set up a fundraising site for a nonprofit relief organization, and they’re hoping their fellow pros will join them in wearing the self-designed buttons with Japanese characters reading: “Never Give Up Japan.”



 Ian Poulter suffers  from hayfever and other allergies. To combat that, he’s having wood floors instead of carpet put in his new house since carpet collects lots of dust that’s difficult to get out.

Of course there’s not much Poulter can do about his day job.

“Occupational hazard,” said Poulter, who had several recent allergy tests to try to combat the situation. “Spending seven hours a day on the golf course with grass and trees is obviously what I’m allergic to. So that’s pretty difficult.”

It could be worse in two weeks at the Masters, where pollen is notoriously bad in the spring. As a result, Poulter will likely get an antihistamine injection before he gets to Augusta National.

In the meantime, he’ll try to win for the first time since last year’s World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Not having won on the PGA TOUR since then has certainly bothered Poulter, who is playing at Bay Hill for the first time since 2009.



Tiger Woods is now giving lessons on mobile phones.

Woods launched a mobile application Wednesday called, “Tiger Woods: My Swing,” for the iPhone and iPod touch geared toward helping golfers of all skill levels improve through video analysis and instruction.

The cost is $9.99, which is significantly higher than other such applications but Woods said his share of the proceeds go toward the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Woods said he would not have done the app except that it benefits his foundation, specifically with college scholarships.


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Sunday, March 20, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 3-20 -2011

WOODLAND BREAKS THROUGH
Gary Woodland’s only par on the back nine Sunday gave him his first PGA Tour victory.

Woodland surged into the lead with birdies, fell back with consecutive bogeys and won the Transitions Championship with a 10-foot par on the final hole for a 4-under 67 and a one-shot victory over Webb Simpson.

Simpson, playing in the group behind Woodland, was in a similar spot behind the 18th green. His chip went 20 feet by the hole and he failed to make the par putt. He closed with a 69.

Woodland became the first player to earn his first PGA Tour victory at Innisbrook, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The win sends the big-hitter from Kansas to the Masters.

PGA Tour rookie Scott Stallings fell out of the hunt with a double bogey on the 16th, but still finished third.

The win gives Woodland an invitation to Augusta National, where his awesome power and soft putting touch could make for an interesting marriage at the Masters. A late-bloomer, Woodland missed the second half of his rookie season two years ago with shoulder surgery, but began to show his potential when he lost in a playoff at the Bob Hope Classic.

Justin Rose,  a two-time winner last year who started the final round with a one-shot lead, was tied for the lead until making four straight bogeys through the 10th hole to fall out of contention. He wound up five shots behind.



JACQUELIN MAINTAINS LEAD IN SUSPENDED  EVENT
France’s Raphael Jacquelin  held a one-shot lead over England’s Anthony Wall when final-round play at the inaugural Sicilian Open was suspended because of darkness Sunday.


A lightning storm before the leaders teed off at the Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa slowed down play. The year’s first European Tour event on European soil will be completed Monday.
Seeking his first tour title since 2007, Jacquelin bogeyed his final hole, the par-5 12th, and stood at 11-under. Wall birdied the 12th, with Spain’s Jose Manuel Lara another shot back through 15 holes.

Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm is fourth at 7-under with the clubhouse lead. Karrie Webb rallied to win the



 WEBB WINS HER SECOND IN A ROW
 Karrie Webb rallied to win the LPGA Founders Cup for her second straight victory, shooting a 6-under 66 on Sunday to beat Brittany Lincicome and Paula Creamer by a stroke.

Webb won when Lincicome bogeyed the final hole, missing a 10-foot par putt.

The 36-year-old Hall of Famer, the winner three weeks ago in Singapore, earned $200,000 for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Japan relief efforts in the charity event at Wildfire Golf Club.

Webb has 37 LPGA victories, also winning the previous Phoenix event in 2009 at Papago and in 1999 at Moon Valley. She finished at 12-under 204.

Lincicome shot a 70, and Creamer had a 66.



IN OTHER NEWS
Tiger Woods says he will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week at Bay Hill.

Woods is a six-time winner at Bay Hill, including one stretch of four straight victories. He last won in 2009 with a dramatic birdie on the final hole, but did not defend his title last year while coping with the crisis in his personal life.

His commitment to play was not surprising, although until a year ago, Woods typically waited until the Friday before a tournament to announce he was playing.

Woods says he watched the tournament on TV last year when Ernie Els won.

Bay Hill will complete a full year for Woods from when he returned to golf last year at the Masters. It will be the 20th tournament since that time.

He has not won since the Australian Masters in November 2009.



John Smoltz has accepted a sponsor's exemption to play the South Georgia Classic next month on the Nationwide Tour. The former Atlanta Braves pitcher tried U.S. Open qualifying last year, and has played several casual rounds in Florida with Tiger Woods.

The South Georgia Classic starts April 28 at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club.

Smoltz is the only player in Major League history with 200 wins and 150 saves. He says he knows professional golf isn't easy, and he wants to experience it for himself.

Smoltz turned pro last year and finished second in a celebrity event in Lake Tahoe, Nev.



The European Tour has a new policy in its regulations this year that forbids a player or a caddie to place a bet on any golf tournament in which they are participating.

That's the letter of the law. But it's not the intent.

"It's a completely new regulation for us," said David Garland, director of tour operations. "We just feel that looking at other sports, and instances of gambling scandals in other sports over here, we didn't have a policy. It's been a little topical at the moment."

Betting, particularly in Britain, is almost a sport unto itself. Garland said golf is the fourth-most popular betting sport in the United Kingdom. During some of the major championships, there can be bets on who will have the lowest score among a particular group, or even as simple as who will place in the top 10.

The first section of the policy is that no player or caddie can either directly or indirectly bet or be involved in a bet in a competition they are playing or have any influence. Another section forbids players or caddies to provide information in which either has inside information.

So is this policy directed mainly at caddies?

"Not at all," Garland said. "We know the caddies have a range of small bets. It's just making them aware that it can lead to other things. They've got to realize caddies are an integral part of the golfer's team. They can influence, and they need to be aware of this policy."

Garland said the tour essentially needed to protect itself with a policy, especially in light of other scandals. Unlike the anti-doping policy, in which a six-month education process preceded the policy taking effect, the tour put it in the books immediately and will spend the next year talking to various people involved to make them understand.



Golf Channel said it averaged 1.07 million viewers the opening two rounds of the Cadillac Championship, the best two-day viewership for Doral since 1.09 million viewers in 2002 when it was on USA Network. Golf Channel now has had higher ratings for all 36 of the PGA Tour rounds it has broadcast this year.


Former Masters champion Mike Weir has had a cyst on his left wrist drained and will miss the Arnold Palmer  Invitational next week at Bay Hill. The Canadian hopes to be ready for Augusta National.

Weir had a tendon injury in his right elbow last year and tried to play through it until deciding to take off the final four months of the season. He says he is skipping Bay Hill because he does not want to make the same mistake twice.

He says by having the cyst drained now, it will be able to heal properly and allow him to play the Masters and the rest of the year.

Weir failed to make enough money the first two months to retain his card. He is playing the rest of the year on his status as a past PGA Tour winner and through sponsor invitations.


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Sunday, March 13, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 3-13-2011

 WATNEY COMES THROUGH IN CADILLAC CHAMPIONSHIP
(AP) Nick Watney poured in two key putts for par along the back nine Sunday, then hit two fearless shots on the 18th and finished with a birdie for and a 5-under 67 to win the Cadillac Championship by two shots over Dustin Johnson.


It was the third victory of Watney’s career, and by far the biggest.

The 29-year-old American captured a World Golf Championship, and earned a measure of redemption on the Blue Monster. It was two years ago when Watney battled Phil Mickelson shot-for-shot on the weekend, only for his 30-foot birdie putt on the last hole to stop one turn short of a chance at a playoff.
This time, Watney left nothing to chance.

With a one-shot lead playing the 18th—where he had put his tee shot into the water on Saturday for a double bogey—Watney drilled his drive over 300 yards down the middle of the fairway, and hit his approach to 12 feet above the hole. He pumped his fist when it fell for birdie, knowing that Johnson would have to hole out from the fairway to tie him.

Johnson had to settle for a shot into 8 feet, and typical of his final round, he missed the putt for a 71.

Francesco Molinari, who won the last World Golf Championship in stroke play last November in Shanghai, closed with a 69 and tied for third with Anders Hansen, who will move into the top 50 and now has to stay there the next two weeks to get into the Masters.

Tiger Woods matched his best score of the year with a 6-under 66, and when Rory McIlroy dunked his tee shot into the water on the 18th hole and made bogey, that enabled Woods to tie for 10th.
It was his first top 10 in an official PGA Tour event in nine months, dating to the U.S. Open.

Watney finished at 16-under 272 and earned $1.4 million, moving him closer to cracking the top 10 in the world ranking.

Johnson opened with a birdie and went 12 straight pars before his next one, a fairway bunker shot that hit the flag and settled 2 feet away on the 14th. But he came undone on the 16th, going bunker-to-bunker for a bogey at the worst time.

That wasn’t the case for Watney.

He opened with back-to-back birdies and took the outright lead with a birdie on the par-5 10th. But he won this tournament with pars.

On the tough par-3 13th, Watney went well right into a bunker and blasted out weakly to 18 feet. Right when it looked as though he would drop a shot, he holed the par putt to keep his one-shot lead. On the next par-3, Watney went long into a bunker and faced a downhill shot. He was so careful that it barely crawled onto the fringe. He drained that one from 25 feet for par to stay tied.

Johnson missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 17th that would have tied Watney, and he figured his last chance was a birdie on the 18th, the toughest at Doral where only two players had made birdie in the final round.

Johnson was in the fairway after a 326-yard tee shot when he watched Watney make the putt.



BRADLEY TAKES PUERTO RICO OPEN
Michael Bradley took advantage of Troy Matteson’s short par miss on the first extra hole Sunday to win the Puerto Rico Open for the second time in three years.


The 44-year-old Bradley closed with his fourth straight 4-under 68 to match Matteson (72) at 16-under 272 at Trump International Golf Club, then parred the par-5 18th in the playoff for his fourth PGA Tour victory.
 
Matteson three-putted in the playoff, missing a 3-footer.

Bradley ended up in the playoff after missing a 3-footer of his own on 18.

Bradley birdied the first two holes in the final round, eagled the par-5 fifth and birdied the seventh to reach 17 under. He bogeyed the 14th, countered with a birdie on 15, then missed the short par putt on 18 to drop back into a tie.Matteson also birdied the first two holes, but dropped strokes on Nos. 4 and 6 and parred the final 12 holes of regulation before losing on the first extra hole.

Stephen Ames and Hunter Haas tied for third at 14 under, George McNeill  followed at 13 under, and Bobby Gates was another stroke back. Angel Cabrera topped a group at 11 under.



PRICE WINS TOSHIBA
Nick Price  won the Toshiba Classic on Sunday for his fourth career Champions Tour title, holding off Mark Wiebe by a stroke at Newport Beach Country Club.


The 54-year-old Price matched the Champions Tour record with a career-best 11-under 60 in the first round, then closed with consecutive 68s to finish at 17-under 196. He earned $255,000.

Wiebe shot a 67. He had a chance to force a playoff, but missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th.

Japan’s Joe Ozaki and Michael Allen tied for third at 14 under, and 2010 winner Fred Couples was another stroke back along with Brad Bryant and Robert Thompson.

Price, a three-time major champion and 18-time winner on the PGA Tour, birdied three of the first 10 holes to reach 17 under, followed a bogey on the par-4 12th with a birdie on the par-3 13th, then closed with five straight pars to finish off the wire-to-wire victory.



IN OTHER NEWS
Tim Clark, Bubba Watson and Ben Crane withdrew from the Cadillac Championship, leaving the World Golf Championship field with only 66 players.


Clark has not played since his runner-up finish in the Sony Open at the start of the year because of an elbow injury. Watson cited an illness, while Crane is coping with a bad back.

Crane first felt recurring back pain at the Match Play Championship two weeks ago, when he lost in the third round to Miguel Angel Jiminez. Watson also starred at the event, reaching the semifinals.



The Ladies Professional Golfers' Association of Japan said Sunday it has cancelled the T-Point Ladies due to the effects of Friday's massive earthquake in the country.

The T-Point Ladies was scheduled to be held for three days from March 18 at Takamaki Country Club.



Tiger Woods had a smile back on his face Sunday after securing his first top-10 finish in a PGA Tour event since June and then vowed he will be in contention at next month's U.S. Masters.
Woods endured some tough moments on the Blue Monster course this week but raced up the leaderboard by mixing seven birdies and one bogey for a six-under-par 66 that equalled the day's lowest score.

He ended in a tie for 10th place, marking his best PGA Tour finish since the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he ended in a tie for fourth.





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Sunday, March 6, 2011

TALKING GOLF WITH GARY 3-6-2011

 SABBATINI WINS HONDA
 Rory Sabbatini began the day with a big lead, turned back a challenge on the back nine and shot an even-par 70 Sunday for a one-stroke victory in the Honda Classic.

Sabbatini sank a 2-foot par putt on No. 18 to finish at 9-under 271. He earned his first PGA Tour title since the 2009 Byron Nelson Championship and sixth overall.

Y.E. Yang birdied the final hole for a closing 66 to finish 8 under. Jerry Kelly, who played with Sabbatini and Yang in the final threesome, shot a 67 and took third at 7 under.

Sabbatini started the final round ahead by five shots, and was still in front by five when he finished No. 8. But Yang was within one stroke seven holes later, thanks to birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 and two bogeys by Sabbatini.

Then came treacherous Nos. 15-17, the water-laden stretch known as the Bear Trap. But there would be no collapse by the leader.

A change in putters before the tournament gave Sabbatini’s game a lift, and the new club came through again on No. 16 when he sank a 16-foot birdie putt to go back up by two.

Then he put his tee shot on the dangerous par-three 17th in the middle of the green.

Moments later, the horn sounded to signal a stoppage in play because of lightning in the area. The leaders found refuge in a van as heavy rain fell during a 28-minute delay.

But the threat to Sabbatini’s lead had passed, and when play resumed he easily closed out the win.

Lee Westwood, who fell to No. 2 in the rankings behind Martin Kaymer on Feb. 28, shot 70 and tied for 29th. He needed a top-three finish to regain the top ranking.

Graeme McDowell shot a 64, matching the lowest score in the event since it moved to PGA National in 2007, and was 2 under for the tournament.

The average round was 2 1/2 strokes above par. Since the beginning of 2010, only last year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach has had a higher average—4 over par.



 PAPPAS WINS IN BOGOTA
Brenden Pappas won the Bogota Open on Sunday when lightning wiped out the third round, reducing the Nationwide Tour event to 36 holes.


The 40-year-old South African had rounds of 67 and 66 to finish at 9 under at Bogota Country Club. He earned $108,000 in official money, but is credited with an unofficial victory because the players failed to complete 54 holes in the scheduled 72-hole tournament.

“This was a hollow victory because it’s unofficial,” Pappas said. “We didn’t get to play 72 holes, but it’s a victory nonetheless.”

Pappas’ group played three holes before the players were pulled off the course for the last time just before 2 p.m. Matt Every shot two 67s to finish second. Pappas’ birdie on his 36th hole Saturday was the margin of victory over Every.




IN OTHER NEWS
Frank Chirkinian, the longtime golf producer for CBS who helped turn the Masters into one of the most watched events in sports television, has died. He was 84.

Chirkinian died Friday at his home in North Palm Beach, Fla., after a long bout with lung cancer, his son told The Associated Press. He was surrounded by friends and family.

The television pioneer was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame just last month, during an emergency vote after it became widely known he was undergoing treatment for cancer. He will be inducted posthumously on May 9 in St. Augustine, Fla., in the lifetime achievement category.



Jack Nicklaus doubts his lead in Grand Slam titles will last, because he anticipates that Tiger Woods’ slump will end.

Woods hasn’t won a tournament since he became immersed in a sex scandal in November 2009, and he’s stalled at 14 major titles, four shy of Nicklaus’ record.

“I still think he’ll break my record,” Nicklaus said Wednesday

Before playing a round Wednesday in the Honda Classic pro-am, Nicklaus said he still thinks his record will be broken by Woods.

Woods isn’t playing Honda. Last week, he was eliminated in the first round of the Match Play Championship, and he has failed to crack the top 20 in his three tournaments this year.



Lee Trevino also has chimed in on the Tiger mess, speaking in Dallas to promote the upcoming HP Byron Nelson Championship, he noted that Woods needs to burn it all, burn it to the ground.

"My suggestion to Tiger Woods, which I don't know will ever happen," he said, "is he's got to look at the film from when he started winning all those tournaments and go right back to what he was doing and get rid of all these people." He was speaking of swing instructors and the like, but you could probably add all of Woods' entourage and hangers-on and not be too far off the mark.

Trevino echoed the thoughts of many that the younger generation has, at the very least, caught up to Woods, and that getting from 14 to 18 is going to be a lot harder than getting from zero to 14.



Phil Mickelson played a practice round at Pebble Beach on the Saturday before the U.S. Open and was walking back to his car when he felt pain in his ankle, hip and even his finger. It was uncomfortable, but no great cause for alarm.

“I thought it might just be wear and tear of the joints over the years,” he said.

The scare came a week after the U.S. Open during a family holiday in Hawaii when the pain returned.

Mickelson was lucky to detect it early.
He immediately saw a rheumatologist in San Diego, then went to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. Both agreed that he had psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes pain, stiffness and swelling around the joints.

Mickelson was able to get on a treatment plan, and he felt good enough to resume his full workouts by November.

But it left a lasting impression, and Mickelson wants to do his part to help educate others about the disease.

Mickelson has created a partnership with Amgen biotech company and Pfizer, Inc. and will launch a public awareness campaign on Wednesday called “On Course with Phil.” The idea is for people with psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or plaque psoriasis to have it diagnosed early and get on a treatment program that’s best for them.

The three-time Masters champion has not signed any endorsement deal, and he said it will not be visible on his bag or other attire. There were will be advertising, along with a website (oncoursewithphil.com) in which people can read his story and get information on the disease, from its symptoms to finding the right treatment.

Mickelson said he lost about 20 percent of his strength, along with some swing speed. He said most of the speed has returned, and he hoped to have the rest of it back during the road to the Masters.

It cost him part of last summer, no doubt. He was never in contention at the British Open, and made his move too late to seriously contend at the U.S. PGA Championship, where he first revealed he had psoriatic arthritis. He had a chance in the second half of the season to go to No. 1 in the world, but he had only one top-10 finish.



Mike Davis is taking over as executive director of the U.S. Golf Association without having to give up part of his old job that he loved the most - setting up golf courses for the U.S. Open.

The USGA said Wednesday it has selected Davis to be its seventh executive director. He replaces David Fay, who retired in December after 21 years in charge.

Davis, a 21-year veteran of the USGA and its senior director of rules and competition since 2005, has become popular with the players over the last five years for his sense of fairness in setting up U.S. Open courses. He introduced the concept of graduated rough, and twice in the last four years has declined to change a par 4 into a par 5 because he felt it made those holes fair and exciting.



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