Mickelson falters on moving day

By Associated PressJune 20, 2010, 7:13 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – There was no other choice: Lefty had to play righty.

And that choice on the ninth hole almost became a footnote to Phil Mickelson’s wild third round on Saturday.

Lefty went home Saturday night seven shots out of the lead after a chaotic 2-over 73 that included right-handed shots, some remarkable saves and a trip to the beach on the 18th.

Unable to find any consistency, Mickelson did his best to give back much of what he accomplished a day earlier when his 5-under 66 got himself back near the top of the leaderboard.

Now he enters the final round needing to post a low number and hoping for the leaders to falter.

“I’m quite a few shots back, probably a few more shots back than I thought I would be … but anything can happen on Sunday,” Mickelson said.

Unable to continue the magic of a day earlier when the perpetual U.S. Open runner up raced back into contention, Mickelson tried taking multiple steps backward on Saturday.

He missed putts that dropped a day earlier. He tried questionable shots. Worst of all, Mickelson failed to take advantage of Pebble Beach’s front nine that was ripe for scoring. 

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson stalled Saturday with a 2-over 73. (Getty Images)

“I just gave back shots here and there,” he said.

The result: a shaky round only buoyed by a trio of remarkable shots on the final three holes that left Mickelson in the chase position entering Sunday’s final round.

That’s not a bad place for Mickelson. His last two titles – the Masters and Players Championship – were in come-from-behind fashion. But those weren’t seven-shot deficits and on courses being primed to prevent low rounds.

“Yeah, Sunday at the Open a lot of things can happen. And I’ll be off with the leaders, and I need to get hot in those first seven holes that you can make birdies,” Mickelson said. “You can makeup a lot of ground if you make birdies Sunday at the U.S. Open. It will be challenging to make up that many shots.”

Saturday was the erratic Mickelson, spraying shots all over Pebble Beach, scrambling to avoid imploding and making a handful of key shots to keep hope alive.

He rolled in a birdie putt at the 16th to get back to 1 over, only to pull his tee shot on the 17th near the grandstand well right of the green. Mickelson avoided bogey by getting relief from the grandstand, then deftly dropping a wedge within gimmie range.

Then came the 18th. His tee shot leaked to the left and danced along Pebble’s perilous seawall before bounding into the rocks and beach below. Mickelson climbed down and momentarily thought about playing from the beach before taking a penalty.

It might have been his best decision of the day. From 242 yards Mickelson hit a long iron to about 30 feet then two-putted for a most unlikely par.

“I fought hard. I made some ridiculous up and downs out there today,” Mickelson said, noting par saving shots on the 10th from the fescue and out of a bunker on the 14th. “It was fortunate to keep me in the round and in striking distance.”

Like many others on moving day, for every step forward, Mickelson took one, and sometimes two steps back.

The USGA gave the players the blueprint: get your shots early, because we’re going to take them from you late. Tees were moved forward on No. 3, giving players the chance to cut the dogleg and leave a wedge into the green. The fourth hole was shortened to 284 yards, meaning long hitters could use a long iron to reach the par 4 from the tee.

Mickelson failed to do that. He bogeyed his first two holes with careless mistakes. He rallied with a birdie at the fifth before an adventure on the ninth.

Mickelson pulled his tee shot on the 505-yard, downhill par 4 that hugs the Pacific coastline, finding a fairway bunker. He tried to make sure he blasted free with an 8 iron from more than 200 yards, but caught the lip of the bunker and went all of 20 yards into thick rough. His third from a twisted patch of rough was pulled into a thatch of long fescue on the cliff edge, forcing Mickelson to hit his fourth shot right handed.

But Mickelson didn’t let the double bogey on the ninth or his other miscues completely derail his round.

“I don’t feel like I got myself out of trouble I put myself in trouble a lot and maybe I escaped a little bit,” Mickelson said. “It still got me.”

Getty Images

Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

Getty Images

Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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