Mickelson Begins Grand Slam Bid

By Associated PressJune 15, 2004, 4:00 pm
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- Phil Mickelson knew the question was coming.
So, are you the Greatest Player To Win One Major?
'That is such a nice question to answer, so much nicer than the ones in the past,' Mickelson said Tuesday after a practice round for the U.S. Open. 'I don't know if I have an answer to you, but it just sounds a lot better.'
Mickelson is one of the favorites at Shinnecock Hills, having removed a blight from his otherwise enviable record.
Two months ago at the Masters, Lefty shot 31 on the back nine Sunday, sank an 18-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole and leaped (not very high) into a very special club.
He is clearly more at ease heading into his first major as a major champion, whether it's mingling with a horde of autograph-seeking fans or no longer having to face a mandatory grilling from the media.
'I don't feel different,' Mickelson said. 'But I do feel like it's enjoyable to answer questions, it's enjoyable to sign autographs, it's enjoyable to play practice rounds without having to feel like, 'Gee, if I could just break through,' or feel the pressure of trying to break through.'
Mickelson made his first serious run at a major the last time the Open was played at Shinnecock. In 1995, he tied for fourth, four strokes behind winner Corey Pavin, despite playing the par-5 16th at 6 over for the week.
The rough along the right side that gave him so much trouble had been shaved back this time, making it part of the fairway. For that, Mickelson said, 'Thank you.'
'My success at the Masters this year stemmed from trying to salvage a half a shot to a shot a round,' he said. 'It's very easy to look back on '95 and salvage a shot a round there. Just look right to 16, where I threw away six shots on a par 5.'
Mickelson makes it sound as though he has no intention of waiting as long for the second major as he did for the first. He's quite mindful of his strong record in the Open, where he was runner-up in both 1999 (to the Payne Stewart at Pinehurst) and 2002 (to Tiger Woods, down the road at Bethpage Black).
'I'm looking more big picture,' he said. 'I want to try to build on the Masters victory. It was a wonderful, exciting moment for me, and I don't want it to be the pinnacle, per se. I want it to be kind of a steppingstone to playing at that level more often in the majors and having more chances, because I enjoyed it so much that I'm hoping I'll be able to do it some more.'
Mickelson played well after the Masters -- second at New Orleans, fifth at Charlotte -- then fell into a bit of a rut. He missed the cut for the only time this year at the Byron Nelson, then tied for 35th at the Colonial. He blamed those showings on fatigue.
Mickelson sat out the next three events, then got back on the course at the Buick Classic last week. While he only tied for 16th, four rounds at Westchester Country Club gave him some valuable playing time.
'I could feel a little rusty,' he said. 'It wasn't the best, yet I could feel that things started to come back. I'm very glad that I played.'
At Augusta, Mickelson had to be on top of his game to hold off Ernie Els, who finished one stroke back. Make no mistake -- Lefty's first major was hardly a fluke.
Els said he wasn't even all that disappointed about the way he lost.
'I've got to take my hat off to Phil,' Els said. 'I just flat out got beat. There's nothing I could have done much more to win that tournament.'
Since then, Mickelson has faced a different question: Is it possible to win a Grand Slam?
He chuckled at the notion.
'It's just amazing what's changed in the last two months,' Mickelson said. 'We go from 'Will he every win a major?' to 'Is he going to win a Grand Slam?' I haven't really thought about it.'

Related links:
  • U.S. Open Photo Gallery

  • TV Airtimes

  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.