Lefty Still a Work in Progress at Open

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2007, 4:00 pm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- This is the sort of tournament that Phil Mickelson used to practice for as a kid, hitting one strange shot after another in his backyard.
 
Lob shots. Low spinners. Anything to break up the monotony of striking the ball on a downsized layout.
 
'Just try to create shots in a small space' is how Mickelson describes it now. 'It kind of carries over to the way I like to play when I get in a tournament.'
 
So, why doesn't Lefty play better in the British Open?
 
This tournament would seem custom-made for a player with Mickelson's imagination. His is a huge repertoire of improbable shots, the necessary trait on a links course where the ball can be just as effective scooting close to the ground as it is soaring majestically through the air -- especially when those stiff winds starting whipping in off the sea.
 
But Mickelson, with two Masters titles and one PGA Championship on his resume (not to mention all sorts of close calls in the majors), has never fared very well on this side of the Atlantic.
 
He did have a third-place showing at Royal Troon in 2004, missing by a mere stroke the playoff won by Todd Hamilton over Ernie Els. But that's the only time Mickelson has come close to contending, failing to crack the top 10 in his other 13 Open appearances.
 
That stands in stark contrast to his record in the remaining three majors, where he is a perennial contender.
 
'It's taken time for me to appreciate and learn how to hit shots that are manageable in those conditions,' Mickelson said. 'As I start to be able to control my golf ball in those conditions, I start to enjoy it and hope for tough weather.'
 
Mickelson grew up (and still lives) in sunny Southern California. He attended college in the desert at Arizona State. Hardly the sort of conditions that prepare one for the rain and wind and cold of Scotland, the birthplace of golf.
 
'The wind here might be the same speed as in Phoenix, but it's amazing how much more the ball gets affected by it,' Mickelson said.
 
For that very reason, two-time defending champion Tiger Woods played sideways during a practice round Monday, hoping to diminish the 30 mph gusts.
 
When he got to the 18th hole, a 499-yard straight shot that can be reached with a big iron and a short iron on calm days, Woods hit a 2-iron about waist-high toward the adjacent 17th fairway.
 
Finding the short grass, he slapped another 2-iron back toward the 18th fairway, which is crossed twice by the Barry Burn. And, sticking with the same club, Woods struck another one toward the green, only to catch a bunker along the right side.
 
Nevertheless, he was pleased to even be considering such an unorthodox option.
 
'I love playing over here, because it allows you to be creative,' Woods said. 'Augusta used to be that way. The U.S. Open is obviously not. The PGA is kind of similar to a U.S. Open setup. Over here, you can create shots. You get to use the ground as an ally.'
 
The ground was Woods' best friend a year ago at Royal Liverpool.
 
After a few practice rounds on the dry fairways, Woods realized he was better off leaving his driver in the bag. He hit it only once over four rounds, opting for irons short of the bunkers and long to mid-irons into the greens. The strategy worked to perfection, and Woods captured the claret jug for the second straight year.
 
He arrived at Carnoustie with a chance to win three in a row, a feat accomplished by only four other players at a championship that dates to 1860. The last was Peter Thomson in 1954-56.
 
Would Mickelson consider leaving his driver in the bag, especially after some errant tee shots cost him a win in the Scottish Open last weekend? Not likely, especially on the rain-soaked fairways that have created American-style conditions.
 
'I'm very pleased with it,' Mickelson said of his big club. 'I didn't drive it the best on Sunday. But I hit 13 fairways on Saturday. I hit a good number of them on Thursday and Friday as well. I'm not overly concerned.'
 
The key, he said, is keeping the ball low when the wind starts blowing. And in the fairway, of course, though Carnoustie, with its soggy grass and shaved rough, is hardly the same beast that it was in 1999, when Paul Lawrie won in a playoff after Jean Van de Velde's improbable collapse on the 72nd hole.
 
That year, the best score in regulation was 6 over.
 
Mickelson missed the cut in '99, but he's made it to the weekend of every Open since then. At Troon, he nearly broke through.
 
'I played along the ground a lot that week,' he said. 'I hit a lot of low shots, a lot of running shots, and I was able to control distances, make a lot of pars and some birdies when I needed to. Missing out on the playoff was a big point for me because I finally had a good performance where I felt I could win and was inches away from doing it.'
 
Mickelson should have won last weekend at Loch Lomond, but three bogeys on his final five holes handed the Scottish Open title to lightly regarded Frenchman Gregory Havret in a playoff.
 
An errant drive cost Mickelson on the final hole of regulation, and an even worse tee shot on the very same hole led to a bogey that quickly ended the playoff.
 
It was shades of the 2006 U.S. Open, thrown away by Mickelson with a double-bogey on the very last hole. After getting to Carnoustie, he had a long talk with coach Butch Harmon.
 
'It was certainly disappointing to finish the way I did, especially making the mistakes I made coming down the stretch,' Mickelson said. 'We talked about a couple of things that we wanted to do with the clubs off the tee and how to take certain places out of play.
 
'It's still a work in progress.'
 
Even after all those shots in the backyard.
 
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    Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

    By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

    A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

    The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

    The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

    Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

    Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

    "This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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    LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

    By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

    The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

    While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

    The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

    The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

    An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

    The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

    The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

    “Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

    While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

    The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

    The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

    For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

    Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

    Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

    Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

    Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

    March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

    March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

    April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

    April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

    June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

    June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

    June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

    June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

    July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

    July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

    July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

    Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

    Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

    Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

    Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

    Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

    Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

    Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

    Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

    Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

    Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

    Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

    And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

    Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

    Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

    Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

    Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

    In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

    THE MAJORS

    Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

    Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

    Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

    Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

    **********

    U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

    **********

    The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

    Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

    Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

    Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

    Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

    Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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    PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

    Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


    TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

    AT&T Pebble Beach

    Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

    Travelers Championship

    Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

    Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


    FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


    PHOTO GALLERIES

    Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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    Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm