Three players who won PGA TOUR events in 2011 are among the names ranked No. 81-90 that were unveiled Friday on PGATOUR.COM’s Top 100 Players to Watch in 2012.
Below is a link to each of the 10 players who were revealed on Friday. PGATOUR.COM will countdown the players for the rest of December, with No. 1 unveiled on Dec. 30.
Be sure to check out this year’s new addition of the Three Wise Men – Chris DiMarco, Arron Oberholser and Craig Perks, who offer their takes on each of the players on the list .
Let’s us know how you think these players will perform in 2012 and whether we ranked ‘em too high, too low or just right.
Bill Lunde entered this week with a two-shot advantage over Cameron Tringale in the season-long Kodak Challenge competition. The lead is now three.
Lunde, who is grouped with Tringale for the first two rounds at TPC Summerlin, applied even more pressure to his closest pursuer Friday by making a 14-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th -- this week’s Kodak Challenge hole.
Lunde and Tringale each birdied the hole in Round 1 when Lunde’s 51-foot eagle putt grazed the left edge of the cup before settling inches away for a tap-in birdie. Tringale, who ran his 37-foot eagle putt by the cup before settling for birdie on Thursday, found the left fairway bunker on Friday and only managed a par.
With just three holes remaining on the schedule, Lunde is certainly in the driver’s seat to win the $1 million Kodak bonus previously earned by Kevin Streelman and Troy Merritt. Tringale, currently tied for 9th at 6 under looks like he’ll have two more chances to eagle the 16th and cut his deficit back to two with the same number of holes (all of which are par 4s) left on the schedule.
Here's a look at the three remaining holes on the Kodak Challenge schedule:
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Phil Mickelson was one hole away from a really, really good round on Saturday.
As it was, the 67 was Mickelson's low round of the week. He made five birdies and an eagle before closing things out with a frustrating double bogey at the 18th hole.
Mickelson, who was playing with Kevin Streelman, couldn't be too disappointed, though. He hit 11 of 14 fairways and all but six greens on Sunday while using 24 putts.
"I played well today," Mickelson acknowledged. "I had fun. Kevin and I both had a good time today and we both were making some birdies, so it was a fun day."
The two fed off each other -- Streelman shot 66 to move into a tie for eighth while Lefty finished another stroke behind. Mickelson's birdie putts came from 16, 4, 5, 9 and 39 feet.
The eagle putt at the 15th hole was another long one of 36 feet. When he finished Sunday afternoon Mickelson was ranked first in approach shot distance to the pin, as well as distance of putts made.
"I hit the ball pretty well tee to green throughout the week," Mickelson said. "I didn't putt the best the first few days, but putted pretty good today."
Mickelson, who was heading up to Congressional for several practice rounds prior to the U.S. Open, wants to build on the momentum he gained Sunday with the flat stick.
He was solid this week from inside 10 feet -- making 65 of 72 putts. But he was 3 of 14 from 10-15 feet, 2 of 12 from 15-20, 0 for 2 from 20-25 and 2 of 12 over 25.
"It's really getting a good feel on the greens," he explained. "It's getting good speed. The first three days my speed was off, so if I had a good read, I either hit it through the break or I'd come up short, miss it low, because I didn't use enough pace.
“My speed from outside of 6 feet, 6 to 35 feet, the putts you've really got to make to get a good round going, was off a little bit the first few days. Today even the ones that missed were rolling about a foot and a half by, which is about the speed I'm looking for."
A U.S. Open title is also on Mickelson’s wish list. He has four majors on his resume –- three Masters and one PGA –- and five close-but-no-cigar finishes at the U.S. Open.
“I've come close five times now … which is actually a good sign in the sense that it's a course or a setup that probably nobody thought I would do well on throughout my career and yet I've played some of my better golf in the U.S. Open,” Mickelson said.
“And I just need a few breaks here and there or maybe a few less mistakes here or there to be able to come out on top.”
Just how difficult did TPC San Antonio play in the second round? Here’s a rundown:
-- Just 13 players broke par and through two rounds only 16 players were under par for the tournament.
-- The scoring average in Round 2 was 75.283 -- more than three
strokes over par. The last time a round was
that high was the opening round of this year’s Honda Classic, where the average was 73.875 on the par-70 layout.
-- There were seven bogey-free rounds in the opening round compared to just one bogey-free round in Round 2.
-- There were 600 bogeys in Round 2 -- more than 150 more than there were in the opening round -- and there was at least one double bogey on each of the 18 holes at TPC San Antonio.
Most of that was due to the wind and tough pin positions. In Round 3, the wind is only in the 15-mph range and players are taking advantage of the much calmer conditions.
Martin Piller is already 3 under through nine holes -- and in a tie for the lead -- while Fredrik Jacobson and Kevin Streelman are 5 and 3 under, respectively. Pat Perez has also moved into contention at 3 under early in his round.
In other words, it looks like moving day won’t involve the lead moving backwards.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – The marquee threesome at the Par 3 Contest has just teed off and between them, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player have 13 Masters titles.
Of the Big Three, Nicklaus has the most recent win in the season’s first major -- and that came 25 years ago when he was 46 years old. In fact, he’s playing the Par 3 Contest with a replica of the oversize MacGregor Response ZT putter he used in 1986.
* Kevin Streelman, who is playing in his first Masters, gave his caddie, Michael Christensen, the afternoon off. He will have his father on the bag at the Par 3 Contest instead.
* And so far, there’s only been on ace at the Par 3 and that came on the 130-yard first hole by Craig Stadler. It was the 73rd hole-in-one in the competition, which began in 1960.
* And don’t look now – but Luke Donald, who is ranked No. 4 in the world, is leading the Par 3 after shooting 5 under.
The Englishman is one of the pre-tournament favorites. So maybe Donald can buck the trend that no Par 3 winner has gone on to win the Masters in the same year.
At least the winner walks away with a crystal bowl.
DORAL, Fla. – Kevin Streelman is trying to become the sixth player to win his first PGA TOUR event at a World Golf Championships event.
The former Duke standout started on the back nine at TPC Blue Monster and just birdied the 18th hole to turn in 34. Coupled with his opening 68, Streelman is now 6 under and tied for second with Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy, three strokes behind Hunter Mahan.
Streelman had never played in a World Golf Championships prior to this week.
Four of the first-timers picked up their first TOUR wins at the Accenture Match Play Championship – Darren Clarke (2000), Kevin Sutherland (2002) , Henrik Stenson (2007) and Ian Poulter (2010). Craig Parry’s win at the Bridgestone Invitational in 2002 was also his first on TOUR.
A win at the HSBC Champions counts as an official PGA TOUR win only if the player is a member. Francesco Molinari was not a TOUR member when he won last year. – Helen Ross
D.A. Points turned in the wedge shot of the year so far on TOUR at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, using a 52-degree Ping Tour-W wedge for his Sunday holeout eagle on the 14th at Pebble.
Suffice to say, his gap wedge delivered better last week than he remembered on a similar shot a few years prior.
“It was a couple years ago, I was playing pretty well here and I was in the Top-10 and I was making a lot of
birdies,” Points said. “I came down there and I had a gap wedge, similar kind of shot and I spun it left off the green and rolled down the hill under the tree and I made double bogey.
“Most of the time we are worried about putting too much spin on it. This year we are trying to get as much spin on it so we can hold it up there.”
-- Speaking of ball spin, Nike introduced a new TOUR-level golf ball Tuesday, the 20XI. The conventional rubber core is replaced with a resin core, engineered to produce more distance and control. Nike says the ball has perimeter weighting between the lighter core and heavier outer layers.
The ball, which comes in distance and spin models, is being used by Stephen Ames, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Jamie Lovemark, Francesco Molinari and Carl Pettersson, among others.
Whether Tiger Woods switches to the 20XI remains to be seen, though he is said to be considering it. He still plays the Nike Tour One.
-- Golfweek’s Gene Yasuda writes that Wilson Golf spent $4 million on research and development last year – five times what it spent five years ago – in order to help implement to a two-year product cycle. The company’s marketing message has been simplified, touting 61 major championships won with Wilson irons, and Kevin Streelman has been added to a stable of TOUR pros that includes Ricky Barnes and Padraig Harrington.
Wilson posted an entertaining YouTube video of commercial outtakes including Barnes. Look for the wedge-bouncing ball trick, similar to the old Woods Nike commercial, here.
-- What was in amateurs’ bags at the AT&T? TaylorMade said its R11 was the No. 1 driver, with 24 in play.
Bill Murray won the Pro-Am with new Titleist Vokey wedges. Check out the BM stamps on his custom clubs here .
--Odyssey just released their D.A.R.T. putters and E. Michael Johnson of Golf World writes that the company is making a handful of “TOUR-only” options including a mid-length version with a 400-gram head, a long version with a 450-gram head, a black PVD version and one with a red D.A.R.T. alignment device. Some of those putters may be put in play at Riviera.
-- In a Masters conference call this week, Phil Mickelson lent some insight into his bag.
On putting two drivers into play at Augusta:
“That particular year, I believe, was one of the first years, if not the first year, that the golf course was lengthened extraordinarily. I think that was the first year that a lot of length was added; tee boxes were moved back quite a few yards. And to combat that, I tried to get a driver that I could hit an initial 20 yards.
“Although I called one a draw driver and one a fade driver, the long driver was the driver that I drew. But I also hit it 20 to 25 yards longer than I did my regular, was a longer shaft and so forth. And I believe that it played a big factor in me winning the golf tournament.
“Now the driver that I have, is very similar to that distance. It might only be five or seven yards shorter than that driver, and so there's really not a benefit to putting another longer driver in play. And so that frees me up to add another club.”
On his wedges:
“I've set my wedges now -- I used to have as much as five wedges, as you know. And what I did was took the gap and sand wedge and kind of created a club in between.
“So every week now, I am set with four wedges. I have a 64 and a 60. I have a strong sand wedge. Which is about 54, 53 1/2, 54 degrees, and then I have a pitching wedge that's a 47 1/2, 48. So that allows me to add some other clubs longer in the bag.
“And usually at Augusta, I don't have a hybrid. I usually carry a 3-iron. And the reason for that is, if I'm not able to reach the par 5s, like 13 and 15, with a 3-iron or less, I usually don't want to go for it, anyways.
“And second, the additional length on No. 4 puts me a lot of times right between clubs, between a 4-iron and sometimes a 3-iron. And so having a 3-iron in the bag at Augusta is what has helped me the last couple of years in some of those in-between shots from 220 to 245.
“So that is usually how my setup, club setup, is. And I no longer play with five wedges. I've had four wedges now and the same wedges for the last couple of years.”