Lefty Should be Well Rested for Ryder Cup

By Associated PressSeptember 12, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesMUNICH, Germany -- Phil Mickelson headed home from Ireland a few weeks ago in dire need of some rest.
 
Lefty has finally figured out what works best him in the major championships, and no one can argue with the results. He has won a major each of the last three seasons -- only Tiger Woods has a longer streak over the last 20 years -- by pouring so much effort into his preparation that he is out of gas when the PGA Championship ends in August.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has a career Ryder Cup record of 9-8-3.
One problem.
 
The Ryder Cup is played in September.
 
Mickelson is the only player on the American team who has not played a PGA TOUR event since the practice session Aug. 28-29 in Ireland, choosing instead to take the last two weeks off and work privately this week to get his game in shape. The Ryder Cup likely will be his last event of the year. Unless he changes his mind, his next tournament will be the Bob Hope Classic in January.
 
'I need a couple of weeks off,' Mickelson said after he tied for 54th among 76 players at Firestone. 'The best way for me to get ready for the Ryder Cup is to get some rest. I played poorly and I'm tired, too. I'm going to work on my game and get it sharp.'
 
The U.S. team requires nothing less from him.
 
Tiger Woods is a master at balancing his schedule and had no qualms with Mickelson taking time off to recharge.
 
'But we need Phil to play well -- we really do,' Woods said. 'He's one of the leaders of our team. And you're always looking for the leaders of your team to win points.'
 
The three leaders of this American team are Woods, Mickelson and Jim Furyk, who have played in every Ryder Cup since 1997. Mickelson got his start in 1995, going 3-0 in his debut, and he is the only player among those three with a winning record at 9-8-3. Woods is 7-11-2, while Furyk is 4-9-2, with only won victory in the 11 team matches he has played.
 
Even so, the scrutiny might be stronger than ever on whether Lefty pulls his share of the load.
 
Woods has won five straight tournaments heading into the HSBC World Match Play Championship, a 16-man field playing 36-hole matches at Wentworth Golf Club outside London. Furyk is coming off a victory in the Canadian Open. He, too, is playing at Wentworth.
 
Mickelson?
 
That Masters victory seems like a long time ago.
 
He has contended only twice in the last five months, tying for fourth at the Memorial (three shots out of the lead) and blowing the U.S. Open with a double bogey on the final hole to tie for second. He was never in serious contention at the British Open -- no surprise there because he rarely plays his best on links courses -- and he faded to a 74 in the final round at the PGA Championship.
 
U.S. captain Tom Lehman didn't sound the least bit concerned Tuesday.
 
'I'm a pretty straight shooter. I tell Phil what I think, and he tells me what he thinks,' Lehman said in a telephone interview from New York. 'And when he tells me that he'll be ready, I believe him.'
 
Mickelson saunters along with a gee-whiz smile and a tip of the cap, which hides an ultra-competitive spirit. He burns to win, and nothing gets his attention more than a stage on which to show everyone what he can do.
 
One way or another, he is exciting to watch.
 
'He understands more than anybody that this Ryder Cup is on a world stage, and the opportunity this team has,' Lehman said. 'He will be ready as a competitor. It's too enticing to him.'
 
Mickelson began concentrating on the majors in 2004. Since then, he has played 10 times after the PGA Championship, and his best finish was a tie for 19th among 31 players at the '04 Tour Championship. He didn't even show up at the Tour Championship last year, using a Halloween party as his excuse.
 
As for the Ryder Cup in 2004? That happened to be his worst, going 1-3 and losing both matches while playing with Woods. While neither of them remotely resembled major champions, the lasting image was Mickelson hitting 3-wood on the 18th hole that one-hopped off the fence, costing them the match.
 
Mickelson switched equipment a week before that Ryder Cup, which became convenient criticism of his poor play. In fact, he was starting to slide right after completing his remarkable run through the majors that year, missing the Grand Slam by a total of five shots.
 
This is no secret to Mickelson.
 
A year ago in February, he was asked how to get his game sharp in September when he is worn out by August.
 
'I have to find a way around that,' Mickelson said in a blunt assessment. 'I have to accept the fact that I'm tired, but I've got to find a way to bring out my best golf for that event.'
 
He figured it out last year at the Presidents Cup, where he played extremely well in going 3-0-2.
 
And there's no reason he can't be ready for the Ryder Cup.
 
For one thing, Mickelson is such a talent that even his 'B' game is better than anything Europe has to offer.
 
And consider what happened last year. Dominant during the West Coast swing, Mickelson was virtually a no-show for five months until the last major arrived. More determined than ever, he went wire-to-wire at Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship.
 
Perceptions of Mickelson in the Ryder Cup have been skewed by his last performance, another example of the 'What have you done for me lately?' culture that pervades sports these days. Until the last Ryder Cup, Mickelson never had a losing record.
 
'I have played well in the Ryder Cup, but we haven't won, so it doesn't feel like it's been very good,' Mickelson said. 'Losing four out of five (stinks). This is an important Ryder Cup for the U.S. team to come out on top.'
 
For that to happen, it's important for the Masters champion to show up.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry