Tour Tracker: Watson, Yang lead in Phoenix
Are you ready for the rowdiness? The Waste Management Phoenix Open always provides vocal fireworks and should be no different this week.
Phil Mickelson is back to defend his title despite an injured back, while the field also includes the likes of Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson. Mickelson endured an up-and-down day en route to an even-par 71, while Bradley is two shots off the lead.
Everyone is chasing Y.E. Yang's 64 from this morning, which has set the pace. Bubba Watson's afternoon 64 has matched that mark to tie for the lead, with a large pack one shot back.
We'll keep you updated on the latest news from the course with our live blog all day long.
- See second-round tee times and groupings for the Phoenix Open here.
- Also, check out who our experts believe will be in contention this week.
PHOTOS: Phoenix Open 2014, first round
See the action and emotion of the first round of the PGA Tour's 2014 Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.).
And off we go! (For preview content, scroll down a bit.)
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Update #32: 8:18 p.m. EST
Kiradech Aphibarnrat birdies the par-5 15th to move 4 under, three back of co-leaders Bubba Watson and Y.E. Yang. Aphibarnrat, No. 150 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, hails from Thailand and finished T-3 at the CIMB Classic in October. The 24-year-old stands 81st in Race to Dubai points.
Jonas Blixt double bogeyed the 18th to finish with a 68.
Play was suspended because of darkness at 5:59 p.m. MST, with the conclusion of the first round restarting at 8 a.m.; second-round tee times will not change.
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Update #31: 7:37 p.m. EST
Jonas Blixt, a Florida State product from Sweden who won last year's Greenbrier Classic, moves to 5 under with a birdie at the 17th that pulls him within two shots of the lead. He's birdied three of his last four.
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Update #30: 7:19 p.m. EST
Bubba Watson gives himself a birdie try at the last, but it tails off low before getting to the hole and he settles for par to finish the day with a 64 and a share of the lead alongside Y.E. Yang.
Patrick Reed adds to his big finish with a birdie for a 67, three off the lead.
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Update #29: 7:07 p.m. EST
Suddenly, Bubba Watson is tied for the lead at 7 under after back-to-back birdies. His tee shot settles greenside but long and right of the pin – then nearly chips in for eagle as the ball lips out. He is tied with Y.E Yang after Harris English bogeys the 18th.
Chris Kirk's second pair of back-to-back birdies boosts him to 6 under and he follows with a par at No. 7, in the thick of things with two holes to play. Kirk is playing for the first time since a second-place finish at the Sony Open three weeks ago; the former Georgia Bulldog won the McGladrey Classic in November during the wraparound portion of the 2013-14 season.
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Update #28: 6:48 p.m. EST
Not only does Harris English's birdie streak end at four holes, his bogey-free run comes to a halt as well at the famed par-3 16th. English runs his tee shot off the back of the green, a common problem here today, then cannot get up and down. With two left to play, he's tied for the lead with Y.E. Yang again at 7 under.
Greg Chalmers gives himself a birdie try at the last after that eagle on 17, but settles for par and a 6-under 65 that's good for T-3 as he heads to the scoring tent.
Gary Woodland, meanwhile, is on a roll and continuing his momentum after a T-10 finish last week at Torrey Pines. Woodland is 3 under for his round – thanks in part to hitting the flagstick from the greenside bunker at the par-5 13th, then sinks the putt for birdie (mobile readers can see the video here).
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Update #27: 6:27 p.m. EST
And a third straight birdie for Harris English lifts him into a share of the lead through 14 holes at 7 under alongside Y.E. Yang – and English follows this by reaching the green at the par-5 15th in two shots, inside 20 feet at that. After watching missed eagle putts from the other two players in his group, Brandt Snedeker and Lee Westwood, English rolls his downhill effort just left of the hole and drops the comebacker to become the leader at 8 under.
Not to be outdone, Greg Chalmers drives the green on the par-4 17th to inside 10 feet for eagle. The Australian erases a bogey at the previous hole, making the putt and moving to 6 under with four other players at T-3.
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Update #26: 6:06 p.m. EST
Harris English birdies again, this time at No. 13 for his second in a row, and moves to 6 under. He's just one back of leader Y.E. Yang with five holes to play, T-2 alongside Pat Perez and Kevin Stadler.
Among the nine players at 5 under is an afternoon threesome of sorts: Matt Jones, William McGirt and Brendan Steele. Each is on the second nine of his day.
A bogey at No. 11 has dropped Bubba Watson to 3 under, and he follows with a par to steady himself a bit – then birdies the par-5 No. 13 to pull back within three shots of the lead.
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Update #25: 5:49 p.m. EST
Harris English climbs to 5 under with a birdie at No. 12, his fifth of the day amid a bogey-free round. English has three top-10 finishes during this wraparound 2013-14 season, including a win at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November. The former Georgia Bulldog stands to improve on his T-57 finish at Phoenix a year ago.
Another winner this season, Patrick Reed, is struggling a bit at 1 over through 11 holes, with a birdie at No. 4 offset by bogeys at Nos. 7 and 10. The former Augusta State standout won the Humana Challenge and took last week off.
Re-gripping Bubba Watson's Ping driver
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Update #25: 5:18 p.m. EST
Bubba Watson has gradually climbed into the mix, starting his round with back-to-back birdies and adding two more at Nos. 6 and 8. At 4 under, Watson trails only Matt Jones among the afternoon players and is three back of leader Y.E. Yang. (Check out a sneak peek at Watson's unique driver-grip setup in the video at right; mobile readers can see the video here.)
Also among big names with afternoon tee times, Brandt Snedeker is 2 under through 10 bogey-free holes thanks to birdies at Nos. 3-4. Snedeker looks to bounce back after missing the cut last week at Torrey Pines.
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Update #24: 5:05 p.m. EST
Let's take a look at the players in the field who are in the top 20 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index:
- 8. Webb Simpson: T-20, 3 under after a 68
- 11. Phil Mickelson: T-64, even par after a 71
- 13. Hideki Matsuyama: T-46, 1 under through five holes
- 15. Keegan Bradley: T-4, 5 under after a 66
- 16. Lee Westwood: T-46, 1 under through nine holes
- 17. Bubba Watson: T-10, 4 under through nine holes
- 18. Chris Kirk: T-20, 3 under through nine holes
- 19. Hunter Mahan: T-4, 5 under after a 66
- 20. Graham DeLaet: T-46, 1 under through 10 holes
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Update #23: 4:41 p.m. EST
Keegan Bradley's 5-under 66, which has him two shots back of leader Y.E. Yang, featured four straight birdies after he made the turn. He said he's comfortable at TPC Scottsdale.
"Yeah, I played really well all day today," Bradley told Golf Channel, "feel really good about my game and feel like this is a really good course for me to contend at."
It's no secret that Bradley and reigning PGA Championship victor Jason Dufner talk to one another, so connect the dots on Bradley working with Dufner's coach of late, Chuck Cook. Bradley finished T-18 at the Humana Challenge and T-16 at last week's Farmers Insurance Open and acknowledged Thursday that Cook's input helps.
"I'm feeling really good. I made a few changes with Chuck and it's really starting to come along and feel very nice," he said.
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Update #22: 4:29 p.m. EST
Matt Jones is showing the hottest hand among the afternoon players, following his near-ace at No. 16 with another birdie at No. 17. The Australian, who finished T-13 at the Humana Challenge two weeks ago, is 5 under through eight holes at T-4 and two back of leader Y.E. Yang.
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Update #21: 4:11 p.m. EST
A second straight bogey, his only two of the day, drops Jason Kokrak to 5 under as he signs for a 66 that has him T-4 alongside four others, two back of leader Y.E. Yang.
Matt Jones gets the raucous gallery at the par-3 16th hole excited with a near ace, tapping in for a birdie that lifts him to 4 under. He's T-9 along with nine others, including fellow afternoon players Harris English and Ted Potter Jr.
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Update #20: 3:39 p.m. EST
Jason Kokrak ties leader Y.E. Yang with a birdie at the par-3 No. 7 hole, only to give that shot back at the par-4 No. 8. He's got one more chance to catch Yang.
The next-closest players on the course are 4 under, as Spencer Levin and Michael Putnam have two holes to play – but Brendan Steele is at that mark through just five holes, the low man of the afternoon wave birdieing four straight at Nos. 11-14.
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Update #19: 3:23 p.m. EST
Phil Mickelson's day ended with one last struggle at No. 9, carding his bogey in five holes and signing for an even-par 71. But rest assured, he is in good health despite concerns about back pain this week.
"My back's fine; my game was a little rusty," Mickelson told Golf Channel. "Got off to a poor start, played a couple over. Finished poorly, with a few over. In the middle of the round though, I hit a lot of good shots and had a good little run. But It just wasn't quite sharp. I wasn't quite focused on every shot the way I needed to be, and let way too many shots slide today. But it doesn't feel far off, I mean, back feels great. I should be able to come out tomorrow and get a great round."
Was a reduced practice schedule stemming from last week's injury part of the reason for that rust? Mickelson couldn't say for sure.
"Possibly – and possibly it's the start of the year and stuff just kind of happens. It feels pretty good. Although I won't overdo it in practice too much, I do feel like I've got a good round in me. The game doesn't feel far off. Even though I made quite a few careless strokes out there."
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Update #18: 3:07 p.m. EST
Y.E Yang jump out in front as he finishes with a birdie on No. 18 to move to 7 under with a 64. That puts him a shot ahead of Pat Perez, Kevin Stadler (both finished with 65) and Jason Kokrak (four holes to play).
Ryan Moore closes with a birdie at No. 9 to put the wraps on a 66, second-best score of the day and good for T-5 with Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, Tommy Gainey (all finished) and Spencer Levin (four to play).
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Update #17: 2:52 p.m. EST
Keegan Bradley misses the fairway at No. 9 and finishes his day with a bogey, good for a 66 alongside Hunter Mahan in the clubhouse, T-5 at 5 under as is Tommy Gainey (one hole to play). They're just one shot off the lead of Jason Kokrak, Pat Perez, Kevin Stadler and Y.E. Yang.
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Update #16: 2:41 p.m. EST
With birdies at Nos. 3 and 5, Aaron Baddeley moves to 4 under, among eight golfers at T-7. Baddeley earlier eagled No. 13 (mobile readers can see the video here).
Atop the leaderboard, Kevin Stadler joins Pat Perez in the clubhouse with a 65, tied for the lead at 6 under alongside Keegan Bradley (one to play) and Jason Kokrak (five to play).
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Update #15: 2:29 p.m. EST
Phil Mickelson's second miscue of the day comes at the par-4 fifth hole, where he bogeys and slips to 2 under with four to play. He follows with a par, then bogeys again at No. 7 and falls to 1 under with two to play.
Jason Kokrak joins the co-leaders at 6 under thanks to back-to-back birdies at Nos. 2-3, which gives him four in his last five holes amid a bogey-free day.
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Update #14: 2:02 p.m. EST
John Daly isn't in Phoenix this week, but NFL legend Jim McMahon is bringing a similar fashion sense to TPC Scottsdale. He talked about golfing in front of a crowd and offers a Super Bowl prediction (mobile readers can see the video here).
On the course today, Pat Perez gets to the clubhouse at 6 under with a share of the lead, as co-leaders Keegan Bradley and Kevin Stadler continue play. Jason Kokrak, Martin Laird and Hunter Mahan are a shot back.
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Update #13: 1:47 p.m. EST
Phil Mickelson birdies again, his fifth of the day since starting par-par-double bogey. That puts him at 3 under, three back of hte leaders.
Rickie Fowler, who had gotten as low as 3 under, double bogeys No. 5 to slide back to 1 under through 14 holes; he also has four birdies and a bogey during his opening round.
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Update #12: 1:36 p.m. EST
Keegan Bradley has four straight birdies now, and seven in his last 10 holes, as he charges to a share of the lead at 6 under alongside Pat Perez and Kevin Stadler. The trio is two shots ahead of a pack of seven players at T-4, with another six players T-11 at 3 under.
Phil Mickelson remains 2 under after pars at Nos. 2-3.
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Update #11: 1:31 p.m. EST
The Phoenix Open is known for its off-course antics, and this year a celebrity-laden pro-am day was part of that mix.
Among the big names at TPC Scottsdale on Wednesday: Dr. J himself, Julius Erving. He talked about the famed 16th hole and the swing of fellow NBA legend Charles Barkley (mobile readers can see the video here).
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Update #10: 1:22 p.m. EST
Let's take a look at the group of players clustered at 4 under. Charles Howell III has three birdies, a bogey and an eagle at the par-4 11th, where he holed out. Hunter Mahan and Martin Laird are bogey-free, the latter with an eagle at the par-5 13th (mobile readers can see the video here). And Webb Simpson has overcome a double bogey at the 18th.
Keegan Bradley moves out of that group with a birdie at No. 3, his third in a row as he gets to 5 under alongside Kevin Stadler, one back of leader Pat Perez.
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Update #9: 1:09 p.m. EST
Another birdie for Phil Mickelson, at TPC Scottsdale's first hole after he makes the turn, gets him to 2 under, good for T-14 and four back of then-leader Nicolas Colsaerts. Kevin Stadler birdies No. 13 to pull back within a shot of Colsaerts at 5 under.
But Colsaerts stumbles badly at No. 15 with a triple-bogey 8, sliding to 3 under. That puts Stadler in the lead at 5 under alongside Pat Perez, with five players a shot back at 4 under.
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Update #8: 12:31 p.m. EST
He might not have wowed the famed gallery at No. 16, but perhaps the crowd propelled Phil Mickelson to birdie the next hole and get under par for the first time today.
Here's a clip of his birdie putt at the par-5 13th (mobile readers can see the video here).
Meanwhile, atop the leaderboard, Nicolas Colsaerts reclaims the lead outright as a birdie at No. 13 takes him to 6 under – that's good for a two-shot lead as Kevin Stadler bogeys No. 11 to slip to 4 under alongside Hunter Mahan and Pat Perez.
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Update #7: 12:07 p.m. EST
The top of the leaderboard keeps moving upward, with Nicolas Colsaerts again tying Kevin Stadler for a share of the lead; they're 5 under after Colsaerts' birdie at No. 11 – and both are bogey-free.
One shot back at 4 under: Pat Perez, with five straight birdies after an early bogey, and Webb Simpson, who has birdied four of the seven holes he's played.
Hunter Mahan and Martin Laird are 3 under, the latter after an eagle at No. 13, with 10 players at 2 under.
Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, remains even par through seven holes.
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Update #6: 11:45 a.m. EST
Phil Mickelson finishes erasing that double bogey two holes ago with a second straight birdie, hitting his second shot inside 20 feet at the par-4 No. 14 and converting the putt. That gets him back to even par through five holes.
Meanwhile, Kevin Stadler moves into the lead outright with a birdie at No. 8 to get to 5 under, one shot ahead of Nicolas Colsaerts.
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Update #5: 11:36 a.m. EST
The top of the field is rising quickly, as Kevin Stadler moves back into a share of the lead thanks to a birdie at No. 7; he's at 4 under alongside Nicolas Colsaerts, who pars No. 9. Robert Garrigus, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson are a shot back, with seven more at 2 under.
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Update #5: 11:23 a.m. EST
Gutsy. You can describe any day of playing in pain that way, but particularly Phil Mickelson's birdie at No. 13 – on the heels of a double bogey, Mickelson drove the ball into a native area on the par 5, then found a bunker near the green with his second shot and got up and down. A scrambling birdie? You be the judge. Either way he's back to 1 over through four holes . . . and you know the gallery at No. 16 awaits his arrival.
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Update #4: 11:17 a.m. EST
Nicolas Colsaerts either doesn't need advice on playing TPC Scottsdale, or he watched the tips shown here (mobile readers can see the video here). Either way, his fourth birdie gets him to 4 under and leading by one as he prepares to make the turn. Kevin Stadler is a shot back, with a group of six players at 2 under.
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Update #3: 11:11 a.m. EST
Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot into the hazard at the par-3 12th hole and ends up with double bogey, dropping to 2 over through three holes. Mickelson, who sought treatment from an Atlanta-area specialist before this week's tournament, has some notable company at 2 over with World No. 12 Ian Poulter and No. 57 Marc Leishman, the latter having finished T-2 last week.
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Update #2: 10:50 a.m. EST
A rough start for Ian Poulter, who picks up a double-bogey 6 on his opening hole (the par-4 10th).
Meanwhile, on the other side of the course, Kevin Stadler has moved to 3 under behind three consecutive birdies starting at No. 2.
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Update #1: 10:35 a.m. EST
Phil Mickelson starts his day on the back nine and needs an up-and-down to save par on the par-4 10th hole.
Nicolas Colsaerts is the hottest golfer on the course so far, going 3 under through his first five holes behind three consecutive birdies from Nos. 3-5.
• • •
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