Mickelson caps his week with win at HSBC Champions

By Associated PressNovember 9, 2009, 9:10 am

SHANGHAI (AP)—Phil Mickelson eased through a crush of spectators and into acourtesy van, telling them he would sign autographs in front of the SheshanInternational clubhouse after he had a chance to eat.

His plate of food gone, he took one last swig of his soda, rose from thetable and said, “Let’s go see who’s waiting.”

Hardly anyone had left.

Mickelson proved to be as popular in Shanghai as he is in the States. Hesaid all the right things at the opening press conference about hisresponsibility to play in China to help grow the game, and the two golf projectshe is building with an emphasis on teaching and attracting kids and theirfamilies.

Phil Mickelson of the U.S. fla…
AP - Nov 8, 6:57 am EST

He saved his best work for Sunday in the HSBC Champions.

First, he quickly dispatched of Tiger Woods and all the buzz over the latestbattle between the world’s top two players, expanding a two-shot to six over thefront nine. Then, he rallied to beat another familiar foe, Ernie Els , withtimely putts in the final hour.

Mickelson wound up with the perfect finish to his week—and his year.

He closed with a 3-under 69 for a one-shot victory over Els, his fourthvictory of the year, and joined Woods as the only players to capture two WorldGolf Championship events in the same year. Mickelson won the CA Championship atDoral in the spring.

This one won’t count in the PGA Tour record book—at least not yet.

It sure felt that way to Mickelson, who finished at 17-under 271 and atleast can have the $1.2 million show up in his bank account.

“I think it would be great if it would count, but it doesn’t take away fromthe fact that I beat 15 of the 20 best players in the world, and the gratifyingfeeling of having this trophy,” he said.

He expected to work hard for this victory, although he would not haveimagined the lead characters.

Mickelson started the final round with a two-shot lead over Woods and NickWatney . Anticipation was so great that thousands of fans created a bottleneck atthe entrance, and nearly 8,000 spectators lined both sides of the opening hole.

Woods, however, soon became little more than a spectator himself.

He missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the second hole that would have cutMickelson’s lead to one shot. With Mickelson 3 feet away for birdie on thethird, Woods missed from 10 feet. Then came the par-3 fourth, where Woods pulledhis tee shot into a canal.

And on the seventh, Woods flinched at the sound of several camera shuttersand pushed his drive into a plugged lie in the bunker. A birdie hole soon becamea scramble for bogey, and Woods suddenly was six shots behind.

He made three straight birdies starting at No. 9, but by then it was simplytoo late. Woods hit one last shot into the water on the 18th, scrambled forbogey and wound up with a 72 to tie for sixth place, five shots behind.

Woods, who shot worse than Mickelson both times they played together infinal rounds this year, chalked it up to a day in which nothing went right forthe world’s No. 1 player.

“I didn’t really envision shooting even par today,” Woods said. “The guystook it deep, and I didn’t.”

Els was on the verge of a course record—10 under through 17 holes—andwas leading by one shot with his ball safely in the 18th fairway, 218 yardsaway, when he hit 5-wood into the water for a bogey that gave him a 63.

“But I can’t think about that,” Els said, who started the round sevenshots behind. “For me to come back all the way, to actually share the lead atthat point, was quite nice. I’m disappointed about that, but I’m going to reallythink about the 63 I shot.”

Mickelson was too groups behind Els, one shot behind and on the ropes.Facing a risky flop shot, the blade of his 60-degree wedge slid under the ball—a whiff. Then, he tried to run his third shot up the green and it barely madeit. Looking at bogey, Mickelson knocked in an 18-foot par putt that he calledhis best in a long time.

Then came a 10-foot birdie on the par-3 17th, and the tournament was in thebag.

“I think we all expected that Tiger and myself would be shooting in themid-60s and pull away a little bit,” Mickelson said. “And yet, our group wasnot making any birdies. It was the groups in front of us. And I was veryfortunate to come out on top by a shot. But this feels terrific, because I hadto fight very hard throughout the day. Nothing came easy.”

Mickelson left with the trophy in his hands and an emerging golf nation inhis back pocket.

“The galleries were much bigger than the past two years, and I’m veryexcited to see that people in China are getting excited about golf,” Mickelsonsaid. “The people here in China have been so nice to me.”

He returns next year as defending champion—his second HSBC Champions titlein three years—with many more trips along the way. Mickelson has a coursesouth of Beijing called “The World Course,” which will include an academyprogram he started with former swing coach Rick Smith and a golf museum.

He also is building another golf complex, which includes a par 3, inKunming.

“I hope that this win will help the golf courses that I’m designing, andthe academies that I am putting up here with Rick Smith, because I want to helpgrow the game,” Mickelson said. “And the people that were out here today, Iwant to have an opportunity for them to be able to play.”

They only watched on Sunday, and most of them liked what they saw.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.