LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Ross Fisher says his favorite golf memory is watching Tiger Woods win the 1997 Masters.
And if the leaderboard holds, the Englishman could be watching Woods up-close-and-personal on Saturday during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open. Fisher moved into sole possession of second place after tapping in for birdie from 10 inches at the eighth hole.
Fisher then added another birdie at the par-5 ninth, this one from 5 feet, to make the turn in 33 and move to 9 under. Woods, who has two holes remaining on the North Course, is 11 under.
Fisher has never played with Woods in a PGA TOUR event. He did, however, partner with Ian Poulter at the 2010 Ryder Cup and Woods and Steve Stricker beat them 2 up in Four-balls..
Fisher, who tied for second at q-school, has played in 37 PGA TOUR events. He's a rookie, though, because he's never played in 10 or more in a single year as a member or special temporary member.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
The world of putting on the PGA TOUR became an itty-bitty less interesting this season.
That’s because Robert Garrigus has shelved his itty-bitty putter.
Garrigus is one of the longest hitters on TOUR but also gained notoriety in recent years for his 28.5-inch putter, which looked pretty funny in the hands of a 5-foot-11 pro. Seemingly more suited for a junior’s bag, Garrigus’ putter instead helped lift him to a win at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in 2010 and a 74th-place FedExCup finish in 2011.
Alas, the long putter revolution has picked up another believer as Garrigus had a belly putter in play last week at the Humana Challenge, where he finished T2.
Garrigus used a 46-inch Scotty Cameron Big Sur – 17.5 inches taller than his old putter.
“I would have never in a million years been like, ‘oh, I think I need to go to a belly putter,’” Garrigus said after the final round at La Quinta, Calif.
His coach, Jim Ahern, encouraged him to simply try it out.
“I putted with a few different styles, the belly, I tried the chest, and the chest ended up being perfect,” Garrigus said. “It was 46 inches, which is three inches shorter -- kind of fitting, because my other putter was about seven inches shorter than everybody else's. But I started rolling it, I started getting confident with it, and about five or six days before I came out (to Humana), I found the perfect grip for my putting stroke, and it took all the tension out of it. Man, I tell you what, I haven't rolled it this good in quite a long time.
“It's so easy to take it back and take it through. I hit so many good putts this week, it was the straight putts I always had problems with, I always pulled them, now those are starting right on line and it's just awesome. I'm just very, very excited about the year.”
TYPICAL PHIL: Phil Mickelson came to the Humana Challenge not wanting to make any changes in his bagfrom last year. If you know Phil, you knew that vow would have limited shelf life.
“The first day, of course, I hit two (drives) out of bounds and I kind of bagged that idea,” Mickelson said.
After that opening-round 74, he replaced his Callaway FT Tour driver for a RAZR Fit that he had worked with over the offseason. Sure enough, his next three rounds in the desert were 69-66-69.
As for the putter, last year’s belly experiment appeared to be just that. He used a conventional-length Odyssey blade that brought back old vibes.
“I think that as I looked back at these last couple months, the way I putted best over the years, it was when I was an amateur and early in my career where I putted very free with a blade,” Mickelson said. ”So I went back to the putter I used growing up as a kid. Odyssey, identical specs, I’m rolling it much like I did when I was younger, and it feels really good.
TRANSACTIONS: As expected, Rickie Fowler made it official with Cobra Puma Golf. He already wore Puma’s clothes, now he’ll play Cobra clubs including the orange-accented AMP driver. … After eight years with Yonex, Colin Montgomerie is returning to Callaway, the company with which he won five consecutive European Tour money titles. … Ross Fisher signed with Nike Golf.
NEW STUFF: Mark Wilson, not cut from the Mickelson mold of club tinkering, tweeted after winning the Humana Challenge, “I went out of my comfort zone this year, putting new Ping i20 Driver and i20 irons into play cuz they felt so good. Apparently, a good call”. Indeed. For the rest of us, those clubs will be available in late February. … Camilo Villegas put a TaylorMade Ghost Manta belly putter into play at Humana, shooting an opening-round 63 and finishing T19. He finished T39 for the event in Strokes-Gained Putting; he was 141st for the 2011 season. … Luke Donald is taking new Mizuno MP59 irons and MP-R12 wedges to Abu Dhabi.
WINNER’S BAG: Wilson at the Humana
Driver: Ping i20 8.5 degree (Grafalloy Tour X shaft)
3-wood: Cleveland HiBore XLS, 13 degrees
Hybrids: Ping i15, 17 and 20 degrees
Irons: Ping i20 4-PW
Wedges: Ping Tour, 52, 60 degrees
Putter: Ping Karsten Anser
Ball: Titleist ProV1x
England's Ross Fisher withdrew from the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on Monday.
Fisher, ranked 64th in the world, is staying at home to be with his wife and their ill three-month-old son Harry, according to a sportinglife.com report.
Fisher's manager Conor Ridge told the website that "Harry should be fine -- it looks like it's just precautionary."
Fisher has played in three previous Bridgestone events, with his best finish coming in 2009 when he finished 43rd. His best World Golf Championships result also came in 2009 when he was a semifinalist at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AUGUSTA, GA – Get ready for Masters Sunday at Augusta Inter-National, where a a mop-headed Irish lad holds a four-shot lead on a field.
You think Rory McIlroy will get some text messages/phone calls/tweets Saturday night? Reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, who missed the cut, followed him Saturday afternoon and sent him a text saying he loved him. (Rory said he wasn't sure if that was the beer talking or G-Mac.)
McIlroy’s sure to hear from others, such as Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer and maybe Louis Oosthuizen. Even Lee Westwood, who is nine shots back might offer some support.
Rounds of 65-69-70 have the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland heading out for a final 18 holes with 2009 champ Angel Cabrera. K.J. Choi, Charl Schwartzel and Jason Day are tied with Cabrera four back.
Adam Scott, who's making yet another comeback, is another shot back and tied with Luke Donald, who is trying to break the dreaded Par-3 curse.
Jason Day had a chance to slide into the final group and play with McIlroy for a fourth consecutive day, but he missed his birdie at the 18th.
Tiger Woods had a chance to settle in five back of the lead, but bogeyed the final hole to start Sunday seven back.
Sunday's forecast calls for another steamy day. Humid. 90s. Survival mode. Bombers haven. Who'll stay cool and who'll wilt under pressure? We don't pretend to know.
But we can tell you the following:
Lots of faces. Lots of plots. Will the kid hang on and win? Will one of the other kids win? Will Donald snap the Par-3 jinx? Will Tiger . . .
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Two years ago at the British Open, Ross Fisher found himself in a somewhat precarious position. He was one shot off the lead after three rounds at Turnberry but earlier in the week had said he’d walk off the course if his wife went into labor with the couple’s first child.
Fisher shot 75 the nxt day and tumbled into a tie for 13th, and his wife didn’t give birth until the following weekend.
Fast forward to the opening round at Augusta National. Fisher is in a similar situation near the top of the leaderboard after a 3-under 69 Thursday and with his wife due to give birth to a second child next week.
There’s a long way to go in this tournament, and while Fisher has no plans to leave this time he has again put himself in contention at a major championship.
Two years ago, Fisher actually had a share of the lead at some point in all four majors.
Thursday, he looked to be headed toward a really low round with five birdies over his first nine holes to make the turn in 3 under. Fisher got it to 4 under with another on the par-4 11th before giving one back with a bogey on No. 17, where he pulled his tee shot into the trees and was forced to lay up.
“Anytime you an make five birdies on the front nine it’s very pleasing,” said Fisher, who was in the first group out Thursday. “At the same time, I’m walking off a little disappointed.”
Up until Thursday, this season has mostly been disappointing for Fisher. In three stroke-play starts on the PGA TOUR, his best finish was a tie for 51st at last week’s shell Houston Open. At the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, he was knocked out in the second round.
Fisher did, however, finish 10th in Dubai earlier this season and he’s hoping this time things turn out a little differently than the 2009 British Open.
“Hopefully it’s not like last time,” Fisher said. “She hung on and I didn’t.”
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Tavistock Cup, which since 2004 has been an interclub match between Isleworth’s and Lake Nona’s golf professional members, will have a different look this week.
For the first time, four clubs will compete for the Tavistock Cup, with 24 players involved in the competition. The first round of the two-day tournament at Isleworth Golf & Country Club begins in less than an hour (10:50 a.m. ET).
Monday’s format will consist of six matches of four-ball ( see schedule below). Tuesday’s competition will be singles matches.
Isleworth and Lake Nona will be two of the clubs in the competition, along with Albany and Queenwood. Albany is a new luxury resort community in The Bahamas and Queenwood is an exclusive private members’ club in the Surrey countryside near London.
Tiger Woods, fresh off his final-round 66 that bumped him up to 10th place at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship on Sunday, will compete for Team Albany. Reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell leads Team Lake Nona ( team rosters below).
Tavistock Cup contestants play for prize money, team hole-in-one prizes and the title of World Golf And Country Club Champion.
The two-tournament will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel starting at Noon ET.
|TEAM ALBANY||TEAM ISLEWORTH||TEAM LAKE NONA||TEAM QUEENWOOD|
|Arjun Atwal||Robert Allenby||Ross Fisher||Thomas Bjorn|
|Ernie Els||Stuart Appleby||Retief Goosen||Darren Clarke|
|Trevor Immelman||Brian Davis||Peter Hanson||David Howell|
|Ian Poulter||J.B. Holmes||Graeme McDowell||Soren Kjeldsen|
|Justin Rose||Sean O’Hair||Henrik Stenson||Paul McGinley|
|Tiger Woods||Lee Janzen||Oliver Wilson||Adam Scott|
MONDAY’S FOUR-BALL MATCHES
|1||Arjun Atwal-Tiger Woods (Albany)||Thomas Bjorn-Adam Scott (Queenwood)|
|2||Robert Allenby-Stuart Appleby (Isleworth)||Peter Hanson-Henrik Stenson (Lake Nona)|
|3||Ian Poulter-Justin Rose (Albany)||Retief Goosen-Graeme McDowell (Lake Nona)|
|4||Brian Davis-J.B. Holmes (Isleworth)||Soren Kjeldsen-Paul McGinley (Queenwood)|
|5||Lee Janzen-Sean O’Hair (Isleworth)||Ross Fisher-Oliver Wilson (Lake Nona)|
|6||Ernie Els-Trevor Immelman (Albany)||Darren Clarke-David Howell (Queenwood)|
There’s no question that the biggest “upset” of the day was Ben Crane’s stunning 8 and 7 win over Rory McIlroy. But that’s what happens when one player plays “exceptional,” as Crane put it and the other doesn’t.
“Rory didn’t have his best stuff today,” Crane, who had seven birdies (two of which were conceded) in 11 holes, told Golf Channel after his victory. “I got up and down from some crazy spots. I played exceptional today -- it was one of the best rounds I’ve ever played.”
That wasn’t the only upset, though, as Y.E. Yang easily defeated Stewart Cink, a quarterfinalist and semifinalist the last two years, 4 and 3. Yang took the lead on the opening hole when Cink bogeyed and never looked back. Cink squared the match briefly on the third hole, but Yang took the lead again on No. 4 and never gave it up.
Speaking of leads, Graeme McDowell has trailed for all of two holes this week, and both times it’s been on No. 1. Other than that, he’s been near flawless. Thursday, McDowell had seven birdies in a 4 and 2 win over Ross Fisher.
Last but not least, the latest upset appears to be on the way courtesy of Jason Day, who lead’s last year’s runner-up, Paul Casey, 4 up with four to play.
The Old Course is yielding some birdies right now. Henrik Stenson has just played his first nine holes in 32 to move to 6 under for the tournament while Sergio Garcia rolled in a 3-footer at No. 9 to get to 5 under.
Not to mention, Robert Rock and Ross Fisher have finished off rounds of 67 and 68, respectively. Rock shot 31 on the front that included an eagle at the seventh hole when he holed a pitching wedge from the fairway.
“I played nicely,” said Rock, who shot 68-78 in the first two rounds and made the cut on the number. “I was disappointed to miss from two-and-a-half feet for a par on No. 17 – then I would have had a round without a bogey. … I really had it going on the front and kept it together on the back. I was quite pleased about that.”
Fisher also faltered on the Road Hole, making a double bogey. But he drove the back of the 18th green and two-putted from 25 feet for fifth and final birdie on the inward nine.
“You got to play 18 holes of perfect golf today, but unfortunately, I played 17,” Fisher said. “What a shame. I flushed a 5-iron and thought the wind would move it. I trusted the wind, but that’s golf. Unfortunately, it went out of bounds. … It leaves a sour taste in the mouth. I was swinging it lovely.”
The early results admittedly are impressive. At the same time, though, the wind has picked up considerably in the last half hour. Something tells me the leaderboard will have a very different look when the final putts are struck on Saturday. – Helen Ross