Feb 09, 2020 8:56 AM

Taylor takes 1-shot lead over Mickelson at Pebble Beach

Posted Feb 09, 2020 8:56 AM

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — For his final act on a day filled with short-game magic, Phil Mickelson hit a full-swing flop shot over a bunker that landed in just the right spot on the 18th green at Pebble Beach that it rolled out to 4 feet from the cup.

Somehow, it didn’t go in.

For a time Saturday in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, it seemed everything did.

“It seemed like my short game was pretty good today,” Mickelson said after a 5-under 67, that final birdie leaving him one shot behind Nick Taylor of Canada as Lefty goes for a record sixth title at Pebble.

Taylor had a cold start and a relatively quiet day at Spyglass Hill, away from all the hits and giggles around the celebrity rotation at Pebble Beach. He overcame two early bogeys with a 25-foot eagle putt on his 16th hole for a 69, and his first 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour. Taylor was at 17-under 198.

Mickelson and his sublime short game delivered more entertainment than all the athletes and celebrities combined during the Saturday show at Pebble.

He made the impossible look easy from a bunker behind the par-3 seventh green at Pebble Beach. He holed out from a bunker for birdie on the 13th and chipped in from 90 feet for birdie on the next hole.

In his post-round interview with CBS, he suggested hitting only nine greens wasn’t all that bad because he kept missing in the right place that left him a good angle, the exception being the par-3 12th where he made his lone bogey. And then he abruptly ended the discourse.

“Actually, that’s not true,” Mickelson said. “I had some pretty good up-and-downs.”

Topping the list was No. 7, the 110-yard hole down the hill toward the Pacific, the most picturesque hole at Pebble. It looked like a terror for Mickelson when his sand wedge went long and plugged into the back bunker.

“I was just trying to not make 5,” Mickelson said. “I was trying to get on the green and just make a 4, give myself a putt at a par. But it came out great.”

It splashed out of the sand so perfectly that it took a few hops in the rough before reaching the green, losing enough pace to trickle 2 feet away for a tap-in par. Even for Mickelson, it rates among his best.

“Yeah, it’s No. 2 in my all-time greatest bunker shots,” Mickelson said. “I made one in the final round at Memorial, Muirfield Village, the old 16th hole from under the lip, plugged, and I holed that one. This one didn’t go in, but it was the second-best I’ve ever hit.”

Taylor’s best was a 3-wood onto the green at the par-5 seventh that led to eagle and assured he would have the lead. His only PGA Tour victory was just over five years ago at the Sanderson Farms Championship, his fourth start of his rookie season. He will be in the final group, his first time playing with Mickelson.

“It’s going to be a new experience for that reason, if I am playing with him,” Taylor said. “Obviously, if he makes a putt or great shot, the crowd’s going to go wild. I’ve just got to do my own thing, try to block all that out. Easier said than done, without having to do it before, but I’ll do the best I can.”

This is a two-man show; however, Jason Day posted a 70 at Spyglass Hill and was only three shots behind at 14-under 201.

For others, it was a wasted opportunity.

Pebble Beach had more wind than earlier in the week, but still gentle enough that low scores were available. Dustin Johnson, a two-time winner at Pebble, was in striking range and could manage only a 72, leaving him eight shots back. Patrick Cantlay, at No. 8 in the world, played the final six holes in 2 over for a 72 and was nine shots back.

Mickelson started with a pair of birdies. He took a share of the lead with a birdie on the par-5 sixth.

And then the fun began.

After his par save at No. 7, his long bunker shot from short of the eighth green rolled inches from the cup.

More trouble supposedly awaited on the 13th when his approach peeled into the left bunker. He raised both arms when that dropped for birdie. And on the par-5 14th, he made a mistake by not hitting his punch wedge hard enough. It came down the slope, off the green and back into the fairway. Mickelson’s long chip from 90 feet banged into the pin and dropped for birdie.

“It was a really good day in saving shots and hitting shots,” Mickelson said, “but I’m usually OK with a wedge.”

Next up is a Sunday with plenty at stake for the leading three players.

Mickelson said earlier in the week he would not accept a special exemption for the U.S. Open if he needed one. A victory at Pebble — the 45th of his career — would go a long way toward solving that, moving him to around No. 40.

Taylor can validate his first win since his rookie season, an opposite-field event at the time. The Canadian has never been to the Masters and has played in only four majors, two as an amateur.

Day, meanwhile, is a former No. 1 who spent most of last year injured and frustrated. He has gone nearly two years since his last win, and was in danger of falling out of the top 50 if he didn’t starting getting better results.

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Feb 09, 2020 8:56 AM
Sunday Sports Headlines

Here is the latest Mid-America sports news from The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Roope Hintz scored the game-winner at 2:19 of overtime and finished with two goals, leading the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Hintz flipped in a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle for the winner and his 17th goal of the season. Jamie Benn also scored for Dallas. Anton Khudobin made 23 saves. Colton Parayko scored two first-period goals for the Blues. 

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Joe Wieskamp scored a career-high 30 points and Luka Garza added 22 to help No. 17 Iowa bounce back from its worst loss of the season with a 96-72 win over Nebraska on Saturday. Garza and Wieskamp came into the game averaging a combined 38 points per game, the sixth-best scoring duo in NCAA Division I play. Wieskamp's previous career high was 26 in the 67-49 win over Maryland on Jan. 10. Iowa (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) was coming off a 104-68 loss at Purdue on Wednesday, and guard CJ Fredrick said during Friday's media availability that the Hawkeyes were "embarrassed" after that defeat. They took it out on the Huskers (7-16, 2-10).

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — No. 3 Kansas has another 20-win season and coach Bill Self has his 700th career victory. Udoka Azubuike had 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Jayhawks beat TCU 60-46. It is their 31st consecutive 20-win season, matching North Carolina's record. Azubuike had his 10th double-double this season and had five dunks in a 13-3 run early that put Kansas ahead to stay. Devon Dotson added 18 points and 11 assists for the Jayhawks. Desmond Bane had 20 points for TCU, which lost its fifth game in a row. 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Marcus Zegarowski scored 23 points to lead six Creighton players in double figures and the 21st-ranked Bluejays beat St. John's 94-82. Creighton shot a season-best 60% from the field and matched its season high with 13 3-pointers but couldn't separate from the Red Storm until the middle of the second half. Marcellus Earlington scored a career-high 25 points for the Red Storm. The sophomore was 3 for 4 on 3s after coming in 3 for 21 for the season.

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Obi Toppin scored 17 points and Jalen Crutcher led a second-half rally that swept No. 6 Dayton to a 71-65 victory over Saint Louis. Dayton has won 12 straight, vaulting to its highest ranking in 53 years. The Flyers are unbeaten in the Atlantic 10 Conference but the Billikens have given them their two closest calls. Crutcher's last-second 3-pointer in overtime rallied the Flyers to a 78-76 victory on Jan. 17 on the Billikens' court. He scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half as Dayton broke open a tight game Saturday. Jordan Goodwin led Saint Louis with 22 points.

UNDATED (AP) — Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga and San Diego State are the top seeds in the NCAA's preliminary rankings. The Bears are the No. 1 overall seed in rankings released by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee. The preliminary rankings are based on games through Friday. They are designed to be a sneak peek at the selection process before the official seeds are revealed on Selection Sunday, which is March 15. The Final Four is March 27-29 in Atlanta.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Solomon Young scored 20 points, Terrence Lewis added 12 points off the bench, and Iowa State held off Kansas State for a 73-63 win. The Cyclones led by as many as 21 points and played the final 13 minutes, 46 seconds without star guard Tyrese Haliburton — who sustained an injury seconds before halftime. Cartier Diarra scored 24 points to lead the Wildcats, who used a 13-3 run to pull within four points with 7:54 remaining but could get no closer.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Xavier Pinson scored a career-high 24 points to lead Missouri to an 83-79 overtime victory over Arkansas on Saturday. Pinson, a sophomore guard, went 12 of 13 from the free throw line in a foul-plagued game in which the teams combined to shoot 83 free throws. Javon Pickett scored 14 points and Reed Nikko finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers (11-12, 3-7 Southeastern Conference). Mason Jones and Jimmy Whitt Jr. scored 17 points each for the Razorbacks (16-7, 4-6). Reggie Chaney added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

AP-Scorecard

Here are the scores from yesterday's sports events:

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Final Milwaukee 111 Orlando 95

Final Dallas 116 Charlotte 100

Final New York 95 Detroit 92

Final Toronto 119 Brooklyn 118

Final New Orleans 124 Indiana 117

Final Minnesota 142 L.A. Clippers 115

Final L.A. Lakers 125 Golden State 120

Final Denver 117 Phoenix 108

Final Sacramento 122 San Antonio 102

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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Final Winnipeg 5 Ottawa 2

Final Boston 4 Arizona 2

Final New Jersey 3 Los Angeles 0

Final Colorado 2 Columbus 1

Final Tampa Bay 3 N-Y Islanders 1

Final OT Montreal 2 Toronto 1

Final Philadelphia 7 Washington 2

Final Edmonton 3 Nashville 2

Final Pittsburgh 3 Florida 2

Final OT Dallas 3 St. Louis 2

Final Calgary 6 Vancouver 2

Final SO Carolina 6 Vegas 5

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TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Final (1)Baylor 78 Oklahoma St. 70

Final (2)Gonzaga 90 Saint Mary's (Cal) 60

Final (3)Kansas 60 TCU 46

Final (4)San Diego St. 89 Air Force 74

Final (5)Louisville 80 Virginia 73

Final (6)Dayton 71 Saint Louis 65

Final OT (7)Duke 98 North Carolina 96

Final (8)Florida St. 99 Miami 81

Final (12)Seton Hall 70 (10)Villanova 64

Final OT (11)Auburn 91 (18)LSU 90

Final Oklahoma 69 (13)West Virginia 59

Final Oregon St. 63 (14)Oregon 53

Final (15)Kentucky 77 Tennessee 64

Final Michigan 77 (16)Michigan St. 68

Final (17)Iowa 96 Nebraska 72

Final (21)Creighton 94 St. John's 82

Final (22)Penn St. 83 Minnesota 77

Final UCLA 65 (23)Arizona 52

Final (24)Colorado 81 Stanford 74

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TODAY'S SPORTS SCHEDULE

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Boston at Oklahoma City 3:30 p.m.

Chicago at Philadelphia 6 p.m.

Memphis at Washington 6 p.m.

New York at Atlanta 6 p.m.

Utah at Houston 7 p.m.

L.A. Clippers at Cleveland 7:30 p.m.

Miami at Portland 9 p.m.

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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Boston at Detroit 12:30 p.m.

Anaheim at Buffalo 3 p.m.

Los Angeles at N-Y Rangers 6 p.m.

Chicago at Winnipeg 7 p.m.

Colorado at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.

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TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

(19)Butler at Marquette 12 p.m.

Wichita St. at (25)Houston 3 p.m.

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