Mickelson to face test of new design

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Phil Mickelson will tackle a dramatically altered Torrey Pines course as he attempts a hat-trick of Buick Invitational victories in La Jolla, California, this weekend.

The left-hander is seeking what would be a rare triple success at the tournament he won with a double bogey in a play-off last year. Tiger Woods was the last player to win a PGA Tour event for three straight years, when he captured the Memorial Tournament and World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational from 1999 to 2001.

Mickelson will hardly recognise the scene of his win last year. The South Course, which is played for only the final two rounds, has been re-designed. All tees, fairways, bunkers and greens were reconstructed, with many of the greens closer to cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The course has also been lengthened to 7,607 yards, making it the longest on the PGA Tour this year.

Mickelson won the Bob Hope Classic last month, but has competition in the form of Woods this week. Yet to claim a title this year, the 26-year-old Woods just failed to reach last year's play-off, finishing fourth, and is the big threat to Mickelson.

In Sydney, Nick Dougherty, the British teenager, will today be doing battle with the player who has already shown what is possible at the same age. The 19-year-old from Liverpool plays in the ANZ Championship alongside the Australian Aaron Baddeley. At 18, Baddeley became the first amateur since 1960 and youngest player to win the Australian Open and then, a year later, in his second professional start, he made a successful defence.

"OK, I'm not up against 150 Tiger Woods," Dougherty said, "but everybody here still knows how to play and some of them are going to play really well." The Australian Craig Parry is the local bookmakers' favourite, with the shortest-priced European being David Howell.

Five players from the victorious Walker Cup team form the nucleus of a 22-strong squad who will be considered for Great Britain and Ireland's amateur team this year. They will have their first meeting with captain Garth McGimpsey at The Belfry on 23 and 24 April as preparation for the St Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe in Lausanne, Switzerland, in August.

Comments