© St. Petersburg Times, published December 1, 2002
INDIO, Calif. -- Phil Mickelson was in the bushes three times, took himself out of the hole twice and even hit one shot right-handed. Thanks to one good swing, he was the biggest winner on the first day of the Skins Game on Saturday.
"The fun thing about the Skins Game is that you can hit the ball all over the map," Mickelson said. "It's not about who plays the best 18 holes."
Mickelson hit an 8-iron to within 4 feet on the 148-yard eighth hole to win two skins and $100,000, giving him the lead entering today's final nine holes.
No one played better than Tiger Woods, who gave himself chances for birdie on all nine holes at Landmark Golf Club but picked up his three skins when they counted the least, $25,000 each.
Mark O'Meara also had one good swing at the right time, a 5-iron to within 2 feet on No.3 to win three skins and $75,000.
Fred Couples won the final hole. From a sidehill lie in the rough, he hit a 5-iron from 191 yards to within 4 feet and made eagle.
"I thought there would be an eagle there," said Couples, who earned $50,000 for his lone skin. "I just didn't think it would be mine."
It was only the third time in the 20-year history of the event that all four players won skins on the first day. Last year, nobody won a skin on the first day because of the validation system, in which a skin could not be won unless the player had the best score on the next hole as well.
The stakes get higher today. The first three holes are worth $50,000. The next five are worth $70,000, and the 18th hole is worth $200,000.
NEDBANK CHALLENGE: Ernie Els shot a 3-under 69 to lead by four after three rounds in Sun City, South Africa. Colin Montgomerie shot the day's best score, 65, to share second with Chris DiMarco (72) at 208.
DiMarco was within one of Els after the first round. But he had a frustrating third round after consecutive 68s. His first bogey came on the 18th on the second round, and he started his third round with two more bogeys.
AUSTRALIAN PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: Jarrod Moseley had a two-stroke lead over Aaron Baddeley when a thunderstorm forced the suspension of play in Coolum. Only 38 of 62 starters completed the third round.
Moseley, who began the round with a one-stroke lead over Baddeley, was 16-under after 10 holes. Baddeley bogeyed the 10th hole to fall two behind.
HONG KONG OPEN: Jorge Berendt shot a 7-under 62 for a share of the lead with Stephen Dodd and Henrik Nystrom after three rounds. Dodd shot 66 and Nystrom 63 to match Berendt at 12-under 195.
Americans are evenly divided over whether Augusta National should have female members, an Associated Press poll found.
When asked which perspective came closer to their views, 46 percent of respondents said Augusta National has a right to have an all-male membership. The same percentage said a club holding such a prestigious event should admit women.
Seventy-five percent said Tiger Woods should play in the tournament in April, and 15 percent said he should not. Woods, who has won the Masters three times, including the past two, plans to play although he has said he favors admitting a woman to the club.