SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Always with a flair for the dramatic, Phil Mickelson rolled in a 17-footer for birdie at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale to grab a share of the lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Mickelson's birdie, which came under the watchful eyes of the always vocal crowd on the famous par 3, put him in a three-way tie with Ryan Palmer and Gary Woodland at 5 under. Mickelson, who is a two-time champion of this event, has played seven holes.
Mickelson, who put a new driver in his bag this week, has hit 4 of 6 fairways and all seven of his greens in regulation. He's also one-putted five times and used just nine total.
Palmer briefly held sole possession of the top spot when he rolled in a 13-foot birdie putt on the first hole, his 10th of the day. Palmer has hit every green in regulation so far in the first round.
The big-hitting Woodland nearly drove the green at the 17th hole, a 313-yard par 4, to pick up his fifth birdie in eight holes.
Tied at 4 under are Matt Every, Charlie Wi and PGA TOUR rookie Nicolas Colsaets. Every just made the turn and birdied Nos. 1 and 2 to make it three in a row while Wi shot 31 on the front nine and Colsaerts shot 4 under on the back.
Gary Woodland switched to a steel shaft in his Callaway X Hot Pro 17-degree fairway wood.
By Jonathan Wall, Equipment Insider
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Callaway Golf tour manager Dean Tekyl is used to having players ask for a slight adjustment to a club to get a couple of extra yards, but early in the week at the Humana Challenge Gary Woodland made an unusual request: He wanted a club that didn't fly as far as the one he'd been using.
Woodland felt his new X Hot Pro 17-degree fairway wood (bent open to 15 degrees) -- a club he was hitting 294 yards into the wind -- was too long for his liking. Tekyl and Woodland discussed a number of options before settling on an X-100 steel shaft.
“It was actually Gary’s idea,” Tekyl said. “Heavier is better for him. If he swings it, I think he can be more aggressive with it. The new club is a heavier swing weight and heavier overall. The dispersion is tighter and he swings down on it more like an iron. He loves the new setup and it went straight in the bag.”
Woodland spent Monday and Tuesday testing the new fairway wood against his previous model that had a Graphite Design prototype shaft. Following a morning session on Tuesday, Woodland felt comfortable enough with the new steel shaft version to put it in play this week.
Jason Day has exactly one win in 115 career starts. Look for him to have a Jason Dufner-style rise into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking. -- Ryan Smithson, Site Producer
Even though he won the Frys.com Open, Jonas Blixt is s till flying under the radar. Despite missing time with a rib injury, Blixt posted 5 Top-10 finishes in his rookie season. He was second on TOUR in Strokes Gained Putting and first in sand saves. -- Fred Albers, PGA TOUR Radio
The last time Phil Mickelson didn't win on TOUR was 2003. Will that change in 2013? Mickelson, who will turn 43 in June, is on the other side of his career, and he continues to battle psoriatic arthritis. I think he's due for a down year. -- Brian Wacker, Side Producer
Bo Van Pelt. He’s placed inside the top 30 in the final FedExCup standings each of the past three seasons. In 2012, he collected a TOUR high-tying 10 top 10s, and is one of the best putters (11th in strokes gained-putting) and one of the best drivers (3rd in total driving). This is the year where Van Pelt wins something big – maybe even the FedExCup. -- Bill Cooney, Site Producer
Gary Woodland. Making a swing change took its toll on one of the TOUR's biggest hitters in 2012. Hopefully he has it figured out by now. -- Mike McAllister, Managing Editor
Due to injury and limited status, Billy Horschel hasn’t had the opportunity to flash his talent over a full season since his debut in 2010. Now healthy and near the top of the opening reshuffle, it would be an upset if he didn’t convert with supreme confidence on top of what was an easy go at q-school that punctuated a quietly solid 2012. -- Rob Bolton, Fantasy Columnist
Gary Woodland. He was essentially a non-factor in 2012 after he was injured amdist a swing change, finishing 134th in FedExCup standings. He showed signs of life in the Fall Series with a T9 at the Frys.com Open, and I think he'll be back to winning-form this season. -- Anne Szeker, Site Producer
I was tempted to say Justin Rose but after eight-top 10s last year, including two in majors, nothing he does would be a surprise. So let's go with big-hitting Gary Woodland, who is fully recovered from that nagging wrist injury and rejuvenated after the hard work he's put in with Butch Harmon. -- Helen Ross, Chief of Correspondents
With a win at Wyndham and (sigh) the Ryder Cup, Sergio Garcia looked like a kid again. And he's only turning 32 on Jan. 9; he still has a lot of productive years ahead. I say this is one of them, with multiple wins. -- John Schwarb, Site Producer
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Gary Woodland was just starting to feel comfortable with his new Butch Harmon-engineered swing as 2012 season wound down. Further complicating last year was a ruptured cyst on his left wrist that forced the big-hitting Woodland to withdraw from the Masters and miss the next four weeks. But he'll be healthy in 2013 -- so watch out.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: In some ways, seeing Woodland walk the fairways at Augusta National with an ice pack on his wrist between shots told the story of his season. Looking for the positives, though, consider those three rounds in the 60s that produced a tie for ninth at the Frys.com Open -- his first top-10 in more than a year -- and sent him into the offseason with hope. – Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: The 2012 season was a year of change for Woodland. He changed agents, which led to a change of coaches, followed by a swing change. That’s a lot of adjustment for one season. He had the longest single drive on the year on the PGA TOUR: 450 yards on the 18th hole in Hyundai. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: A commitment to swing changes and an injured left wrist limited him to one late top 10 in 22 starts. Naturally, the exceptional news is that he costs just $592K in salary games, so stick him at the top of your list of most desired. If he didn't turn in a phenomenal 2011, I'd be cautious for 2013, but there's nothing about his makeup that suggests that he's a flash in the pan. Sure, his putting can improve, but look for that to come around once he settles into a groove with his swing. It'll happen. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
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2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 16
Rounds played: 69
Top-10 finishes: 1
Money List rank: 90th
Driving distance: 18th
Driving accuracy: 172nd
Greens in regulation: 124th
Strokes gained-putting: 178th
Scoring average: 182nd
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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Following an opening-round 66, Gary Woodland reflects on his play in the 2012 Wyndham Championship with Mark Immelman from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Gary Woodland is just happy to be healthy and playing well again. So the chance to play his way into the FedExCup Playoffs is a bonus.
Woodland came to Greensboro ranked 130th and likely needs to finish 36th or better to punch his ticket for The Barclays next week. He put himself in good position with a first-round 66 that included five birdies and just one bogey.
"I know if I play well I'll take care of business," Woodland said. "I'm out here trying to go through the game plan and hopefully play well at the end of the week."
A ruptured cyst in his left wrist had forced Woodland to withdraw from the Masters earlier this year. He said he didn't feel completely healthy until the British Open, where he tied for 34th, and at that point, he and coach Butch Harmon could start working again in earnest.
The results showed when Woodland opened with a 67 last week at the PGA before struggling in the wind on Friday and eventually tying for 42nd. Thursday at Sedgefield was another building block.
"It's high," Woodland said when asked about his confidence. "My game is starting to show. I'm starting to see some results. I'm playing pretty well. Look forward to the weekend."
Woodland is making his first appearance at the Wyndham Championship. So far, he likes what he sees at Sedgefield, a Donald Ross design.
"The golf course is phenomenal," Woodland said. "It's in great shape. The rough is up. Greens are perfect, really are. You get it below, you can make putts. Get it above it, you're going to have some problems. They're perfect."
Tee to green on Thursday, Woodland was spot-on. He hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 greens in regulation. He had 29 putts, though, and felt he squandered a few birdie opportunities down the stretch.
"I had chances on the back nine to really post a number and let it get away," Woodland said. "I hit a lot of 2 irons. Every hole I hit irons and kept in it play and gave myself a lot of chances. Didn't capitalize."
Overall, though, Woodland deemed Thursday a "solid" round. "We're off and running," he said.
This week’s Wyndham Championship marks the final opportunity for players to move inside the top 125 in FedExCup points and reserve their spot in the FedExCup Playoffs, which begin next week at The Barclays.
Starting with the No. 126 player in points (Brendan Steele) going into this week, 44 of the next 55 players in points are playing at Sedgefield. Notables such as Retief Goosen (127th) and Stewart Cink (135th) are not in the field, meaning they will not make the Playoffs this year.
Here’s a look at some of the notables currently outside the top 125 who are playing this week. Which one do you think has the best chance of having a good week and moving inside the top 125?
||Y.E. Yang||129th||Made the Playoffs the previous three years, finishing 30th last year. But he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in 19 starts this year.|
||Gary Woodland||130th||A year ago, he was ninth in FedExCup points, which essentially clinched his spot for the TOUR Championship. But like Yang, he doesn’t have a top-10 finish (18 starts) this year, has battled injuries and has just two sub-par rounds in his last 21 rounds.|
||John Daly||137th||Has never made the Playoffs, but he’s making a late charge this year. He’s move up 26 spots in the last two weeks thanks to a T5 (at Reno-Tahoe) and a T18 (at PGA Championship).|
||Stuart Appleby||142nd||Has made the Playoffs in four of the first five years but has just one top-10 finish on TOUR since shooting that 59 in the final round to win The Greenbrier Classic in 2010.|
||Camilo Villegas||146th||Villegas has always come up big in the Playoffs – he’s had at least one top-10 finish in every year, and has 10 top-10s (in 18 starts) overall, including two wins in 2008. But his best finish this year has been a T18 in New Orleans.|
||Justin Leonard||157th||Last year was the first time Leonard had missed the Playoffs and he’s in danger again. But he comes off a T5 at Reno-Tahoe, his best finish of the year.|
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Steve Stricker entered this week with the longest active cut streak on the PGA TOUR. But that streak will be over once the dust settles after Friday’s second round of THE PLAYERS Championship.
After shooting an opening-round 4-over 76, Stricker followed with a 2-over 74 on Friday morning, leaving him at 6 over for the tournament. That won’t be good enough to make the cut this week, which was projected at even par when Stricker finished his round.
Until this week, Stricker had made 49 consecutive cuts. His last missed cut was the 2009 PGA Championship.
Who’ll become the new active cut streak leader? Still to be determined.
Gary Woodland entered this week second on the list at 22 consecutive cuts but opened with a 5-over 77 and was still behind the projected cut line early in his round.
Webb Simpson has 18 consecutive cuts but was also behind the projected cut line while still on the course. Simpson shot a 73 in the first round.
Matt Kuchar, with 16 consecutive cuts, opened with a 4-under 68 on Thursday and is in good shape to keep his streak alive. Hunter Mahan, also with 16 straight cuts, opened with a 74 and is still below the projected cut early in his second round.
Gary Woodland has withdrawn from the Wells Fargo Championship as he continues to recover from a the injury to his left wrist that forced him to withdraw after the third round of the Masters.
Russell Knox, who tied for 30th last week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans has replaced Woodland in the field. Matt Every also withdrew on Wednesday and was replaced by Alexandre Rocha. The first alternate is now Daniel Chopra.
“There is no structural damage and I have been cleared to play by doctors, but I really feel it is necessary to rest one more week,” said Woodland. “My thanks to (Quail Hollow Club President) Johnny Harris and (Executive Director) Kym Hougham and everyone involved with the Wells Fargo Championship for their understanding. I look forward to returning to Charlotte next year. With one more week of rest, I will be ready to go next week at THE PLAYERS Championship.”
THE PLAYERS will be contested May 10-13 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.