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I started this thing awhile ago, and then just kinda abandoned it, but after Phil’s remarkable win yesterday at the Northern Trust Open, coming back from some early round hiccups, and capitalizing on a Steve Stricker choke-job, I figured now would be a good time to discuss in lieu of a full-blown recap.

So far this season, Phil has been a trainwreck, which is putting it nicely.  However, he does have a point…many people gave Tiger the benefit of the doubt when it came to making swing changes, but Phil never got the latitude, mostly in part due to his win at the Players only a few weeks after starting his work with Butch Harmon.  Peter Kostis, yesterday, highlighted many of the things that Phil needs to improve in order to be a more consistent driver of the golf ball.  Simplifying it, Phil gets way too active with his lower body, and as we saw yesterday, that can usually result in a two-way miss…slicing it left (for him) on one hole and snap hooking it right on the very next. (more…)

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Yesterday’s leader, Phil Mickelson fell 3 spots today to T4/-7 and shot a +2/72. Today was not the bogy free round that Phil produced yesterday. He had 4 bogyes today with 1 eagle, 1 birdie, and 12 pars. That single eagle was on his first hole of the day, the par 5, 1st. He hit a 189 yard 8 iron for his approach. On my best day that’s at least a 5 iron. The driver however was what did Phil in. He only found about half of the fairways and had 12 more puts in round 2. The lead is now in sole posession of Scott McCarron at -10 who shot a -3/68 today and a -7/64 yesterday. He scored 5 birdies, 11 pars, and 2 bogeys today, including a chip in from just off the green on the par 4, 3rd hole. Not a bad round for the UCLA grad.

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hanikami As you no doubt have seen and heard this week, an extremely talented 17 year old is playing his PGA tour debut at The Northern Trust Open. Ryo Ishikawa is a teen golf phenom from Japan who has just begun his second stretch of golf in the States. He  played here in 2007 in the Junior World Championship where he finished 23rd. So in honor of this superb young talent I’m going to throw around some interesting facts you might not know thanks to the wonderful PGATOUR.com.

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With play suspended due to darkness, the first round ended with the reigning Champion, Phil Mickelson, sitting alone on top of the leaderboard after shooting -8 for a 63. Phil had the short game back in working order and started with a birdie on his opening hole, the par 4, 10th, an amazing shot that was from around 40 yards behind the green that had to land in exactly the right spot and clear a bunker and ended up a few feet away with a gimme for birdie.  Other Mickel-highlights were his chip in for birdie on the par 5, 17th to close out his front 9 and for the day, Phil racked up eight birdies, 10 pars, and most importantly no bogeys. He also had only 22 putts on the day which is the second fewest for the opening round. (more…)

The Northern Trust Open will be played this weekend at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Pallisades, CA, and one of my favorite video game courses play at a par 71 and 7298 yards.  With a purse of $6,300,000 with the winner will taking home a smooth $1,134,00, and with that kind of coin on the line you’re going to have a nice field.

Last year Phil Mickelson took home the top prize, finishing with a score of -12. His second round -7/64 was the low round of the tournament. Schneid’s recent man crush, Paddy Harrington, finished tied with Luke Donald at -7. K.J. Choi, Steve Stricker, J.B. Holmes and Stuart Appleby also earned  top 10 money by finishing T7/-5. I can definitely see the top scores staying in the same general range (-10 to -12 for the winner) as last year with the usual big names making some noise. This year we will get to see the Japanese prodigy Ryo Ishikawa make his PGA Tour debut. This kid is only 17 and he is the youngest player ever to enter the top 100 Official World Golf Rankings. Some of this year’s other notables: Jim Furyk, Mike Weir, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, and Retief Goosen.

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riviera1Riviera is known as Hogan’s Alley, one of seemingly 30 courses given a similar moniker.  A historic gem in Los Angeles, and longtime home of the LA Open, Riviera is a classically designed course that puts a premium on the integrity of each shot.  The variety of hole designs are wonderful and you’ll pretty much run the gamut of different ways you can set up a course…there’s a green with a bunker in it, holes with multiple fairways, drastic elevation changes, and perhaps the most famous drivable par-4 in golf.

The history at Riviera is rich.  As the host for the first US Open held on the west coast in 1948, Riviera was only slightly altered as the course was already in tournament condition, and after Ben Hogan won there three times in 18 months, it was given the nickname “Hogan’s Alley.”  Since then, it’s always been a favorite of the top pros (except for Tiger who only likes courses that are extremely long and force you to hit a high, spinny approach shot…yea, that’s right Tiger, suck it) and has a list of champions that includes Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson as well as Charlie Sifford, the first African American golfer inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame, and who has a special exemption for the tournament named in his honor.

But enough about the history, what about the course? (more…)