Mickelson fails to seize moment again

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Six feet. Six little feet. A testy putt, to be sure, but one that defines the legacy of a player such as Phil Mickelson.
 
Besides, this is what Lefty had longed for: a chance to seize the moment at the Ryder Cup, a chance to give the Americans a crucial boost going to the final day of an event they havent won since 1999.
 
This is surely what U.S. captain Paul Azinger had in mind when he sent Mickelson back to the course in the afternoon, even after his dream pairing with Anthony Kim squandered the closest thing to a sure win in the morning.
 
So, Mickelson studied the putt at the 17th hole from every angle, took a couple of swings just for practice, then settled over the ball.
 
He drew his club back, and swung it forward. The ball was on its way.
 
Right by the cup.
 
After a day of seeming redemption, Mickelsons shaky Ryder Cup history bubbled back to the surface Saturday. He and Kim, probably the most talented American tandem, tossed away a 4-up lead after six holes in an alternate-shot match against Henrik Stenson and unheralded Oliver Wilson, whom the Europeans didnt even bother to use on the opening day.
 
Then, Mickelson missed that short birdie putt, which would have broken a tie going to the final hole. He wasnt much help on the 18th, either, knocking his tee shot into a bunker, putting his second shot on the side of a hill and then making a tentative chip.
 
It was left to Hunter Mahan to bail the Americans out. He made the birdie at No. 18 and the Americans escaped with a half-point in their match against Stenson and Robert Karlsson. The home team goes to the final day with a 9-7 lead, but it might have been bigger with more of a contribution from Mickelson.
 
It was a very emotional and up-and-down day, Lefty conceded. But we fought hard all day, and Hunter and I hung in there. Obviously we wanted to win. We had opportunities for that.
 
Paired with Kim for an alternate-shot match, Mickelson sure had plenty of chances to win. Heck, it looked over when a par at No. 6 gave the Americans a commanding four-hole cushion.
 
But Mickelson and Kim quickly handed it back, losing four of the next six holes. Then, after another errant drive by Lefty at No. 15 and an unnecessarily bold shot by Kim around a tree, off a European official and into a creek, the Europeans were ahead to stay.
 
Wilson sank a 30-foot birdie at No. 17 to put the pressure on Mickelson. He missed a 20-footer to keep the match going. Kim, watching with his hands on his knee, nearly crumpled to the ground.
 
We had some momentum, Mickelson said. Unfortunately, a couple of bad shots by us, and we ended up squandering a lead. We still fought hard. It looked like we were going to bring that thing down to the end until that long putt.
 
And what about Mickelsons putt at that same hole a few hours later, after U.S. captain Paul Azinger shook up his pairings to put his highest-ranked player with Hunter Mahan?
 
I kept reading more and more break as I got over it, Mickelson said. I didnt want to jam it in, and I just overplayed the break. It wasnt that hard, but it was about three or four inches out, and I overplayed it just a touch.
 
In all fairness, the Americans ran into an extremely hot player. Karlsson made six birdies in seven holes, including four in a row, to erase a 2-up lead for Mickelson and Mahan. Fortunately for the U.S., the Swede missed a downhill 12-footer for eagle at the 18th that would have given Europe a full point.
 
Both sides settled for a hard-earned halve.
 
Mickelson, who was 1-7-1 in the two previous Ryder Cups, is now 1-1-2 at Valhalla, accounting for more points in the bluegrass state than he managed at Oakland Hills and the K Club combined.
 
Still, there are doubts about his state of mind heading into singles play on Sunday. Mickelson will be in the fourth group out, facing Justin Rose and seeking his first singles win since 1999.
 
In 2002, he lost a pivotal match to Phillip Price, ranked 119th in the world at the time, at the Belfry. He was beaten by a pair of Spaniards, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal, in the European routs of 04 and 06.
 
Azinger insisted theres no concern about Mickelson falling short again.
 
Im not worried about Mickelsons mind-set at all, the captain told reporters late Saturday. My message all week long to you guys is anything that happened in the past is in the past and has no bearing on whats going on.
 
Azingers only advice to Mickelson will be of a dietary nature. Lefty apparently went through quite a spread before his loss to Price six years ago.
 
I hope its not three waffles, two eggs and a Diet Coke, Azinger said. I heckled him about that already.
 
Mickelson was paired with Kim for two matches Friday ' at Leftys request ' and the duo worked beautifully together, high-fiving each other all the way around the course. Twice, they rallied from three-hole deficits, pulling out a halve against Padraig Harrington and Karlsson and winning 2-up over Harrington and Graeme McDowell.
 
Saturday morning, the tables turned.
 
Naturally, Mickelson was eager to get back on the course, and Azinger obliged. Justin Leonard, who putted brilliantly in his match to help earn a half-point, might have been the better choice. But he, too, knew Lefty was eager for redemption after helping blow such a big lead.
 
You certainly wouldnt think those guys would lose that match, Leonard said. I think thats one of the reasons Phil wanted to go back out, because thats going to leave a bad taste is his mouth.
 
He can only hope its not there Sunday night.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''