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9:11PM

No Tiger, but plenty of Phil — and Scott Piercy

By Art Spander

NAPA, Calif. — So he’s not here. That’s the way it goes. Sport isn’t always what we would wish. Tiger Woods withdraws. The Giants blow a ninth-inning lead.

You can’t always get what you want, the Rolling Stones lyrics advise. Life goes on. The games go on.

Woods was one of a kind. Still is, although he hasn’t played a tournament round in more than a year. In a sport dependent on personalities, Woods was a transcendent personality.

He reached the ultimate status, known by people who don’t know much — if anything — about golf. The way Pavarotti was known by those who didn’t know anything about opera.

The method of Woods’ withdrawal, pulling out the three days after making a formal commitment, was vexing to some, irritating to others. Too much about someone among the missing? Probably, but that complaint was lodged back in the ‘70s and ‘80s when the issue dealt with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

“Why are you always writing about people who aren’t playing?” wondered unhappy executives from the PGA Tour. “Write about the others, then people will want to watch them.”

As we know, that’s a false hope. It’s the Steph Currys and Buster Poseys — and Tiger Woodses — who, through success and charisma, draw the fans.

That said, the first Safeway Open is under way at Silverado Country Club. (First, because the event previously was sponsored by Frys). And in the opening round Thursday, Scott Piercy, who if he’s not Tiger also isn’t anonymous, shot a record 10-under-par 62 on the North Course.

The slogan, “These guys are good,” is an understatement. The guys who play the Tour are great — even though Silverado isn’t Oakmont or Olympic, a 62 is a 62 — and in a way Tiger’s fame helped others come to the understanding.

If the fans bought tickets because of Woods, well, they were privileged to watch somebody else, Piercy, go seven-under-par on his first 10 holes and finish with 12 birdies out of the 18 holes. Remarkable.

The Safeway is the first tournament of the Tour’s rather confusing wrap-around season. The calendar may read 2016, but the schedule says 2017. The idea is to make the autumn tournaments seem important, even if they’re lost somewhere among the baseball playoffs and college and pro football.

“Oh man,” said Piercy of his spectacular round, “I think I made more feet of putts than I did all last season.” Last season, of course, ended only two weeks ago, as if it matters. There’s a course. There’s a tournament. Play on.

Phil Mickelson has his own schedule, but fortunately the Safeway is on that schedule. This is Phil’s farewell until the Career Builder Challenge, the former Bob Hope Desert Classic, in January. Maybe there’s no time off for the Tour, but there will be for Mickelson, now 46.

He began the Safeway with consecutive bogies but came in with a three-under 69 and, although it was 5:21 p.m., with the day’s largest gallery. And why not? As Tiger has, Mickelson earned the following. Five majors and a lot of smiles gain anyone a high degree of respect and approval.

“I have to be careful energy-wise,” said Mickelson of his slow start, “because it’s been a very emotional and long year, ending and culminating with the high degree of the Ryder Cup.”

Mickelson led the British Open at Troon in July, then finished second behind Henrik Stenson. Two weeks ago, he was the de facto leader, and as a competitor he was a major factor in America’s first Ryder Cup victory since 2008. His presence at the Safeway should not go unappreciated — and it hasn’t been.

“I didn’t have much time off,” said Mickelson after the Ryder Cup triumph, ”so I’ve got to maintain energy. I got off to a slow start. I wasn’t as focused as I need to be, but I put myself in position where (Friday) I can get hot on the greens, get perfect greens in the morning, get it going, shoot six, seven, eight-under-par and get right back in it for the weekend.”

No Tiger at the Safeway, but plenty of Phil and Scott Piercy. It could be worse. Much, much worse.

10:19PM

Los Angeles Times: U.S. wins Ryder Cup for first time since 2008

By Art Spander
Los Angeles Times

CHASKA, MINN. — It was a Sunday of laughter and tears, of success and relief. It was an afternoon on the prairie when America’s golfers stood up to anxiety and knocked down the criticism.

It was the day the United States finally won the Ryder Cup.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Los Angeles Times

9:01AM

Los Angeles Times: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson spark U.S. to three-point lead in Ryder Cup

By Art Spander
Los Angeles Times

CHASKA, MINN. — It was golf, and it was played in Minnesota. But to Phil Mickelson, very much a man in full — and loving it — it was just like basketball, in the Bay Area.

He had holed a long birdie putt on this beautiful autumn Saturday afternoon when the United States zoomed into the Ryder Cup lead at Hazeltine National Golf Club, and Mickelson, after doing a shimmy — at age 46, no less — had a hoops analogy.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Los Angeles Times

4:20PM

Los Angeles Times: Europeans rally to cut Americans' lead to 5-3 in Ryder Cup

By Art Spander
Los Angeles Times

CHASKA, MINN. — Day One of the 41st Ryder Cup began with a video tribute to Arnold Palmer and a song — “Let’s Go Crazy” — by hometown guy Prince blasting from loudspeakers.

By the middle of the day, the United States had a stunning 4-0 advantage.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Los Angeles Times

10:34PM

Los Angeles Times: Phil Mickelson is the center of attention at the Ryder Cup

By Art Spander
Los Angeles Times

CHASKA, MINN. — He’s one of 12, a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. In truth he’s one and only, a chance-taker, a champion, a right-hander who plays left-handed.

Phil Mickelson will take a swing at anything, literally with a club — it’s only 230 yards across the water — or figuratively with his suggestions.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016, Los Angeles Times

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