Mickelson Finishes Second Again

By Associated PressJune 20, 2004, 4:00 pm
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- Phil Mickelson had it all going his way at the U.S. Open - the crowd, the momentum, the confidence.
'I really thought it was going to be my day,' Mickelson said.
Then he got to No. 17 at Shinnecock Hills, a little par-3 known as 'Eden.' With two excruciating jabs at the ball, Mickelson's hopes of reaching paradise - a second straight major and the first two legs of the Grand Slam - were done.
This was Lefty playing a more familiar role - the lovable loser. The guy who three-putted from 5 feet with a major title in his grasp.
Instead, it was Retief Goosen winning the Open, his second in four years, by doing what Mickelson couldn't Sunday - finishing the job at 17.
After blasting out of a bunker in front of the green, Mickelson had a chance to save par from 5 feet. Hardly a gimme when the hole is downhill, the greens are like a hardwood floor, the wind is blowing and a major championship is on the line.
Still, it was the kind of testy putt Mickelson had been making all week.
He tapped the ball gently, watching helplessly as it drifted to the left, missing the cup by an inch or two and rolling another 4 feet.
A huge setback, to be sure, but Mickelson could have kept the pressure on Goosen by making the come-backer for bogey. With two holes left and the course playing as tough as any in Open history, one stroke was hardly a commanding edge.
But Mickelson pulled the next putt, just missing to the right this time. He finally tapped in, but the gallery that had been so raucous just moments earlier was now sitting in stunned silence.
Double bogey.
Game over.
Mickelson closed with a 1-over 71, leaving him at 2-under 278 for the tournament. Goosen was the only other guy who managed to break par, winding up at 276 with a 71 that maintained the two-stroke lead he had at the beginning of the day.
For the third time in six years, Mickelson was runner-up in America's national championship.
'This is a championship I really want to win, so it's disappointing,' he said. 'But I also feel like I played well in some very difficult conditions. I was confident in some very difficult positions. I'm very pleased with the way I played for four days.'
Indeed, Mickelson shouldn't hang his head too low. Under intense pressure, he tied for second-best round of the day. Robert Allenby was the only player to shoot par, and he wasn't in contention. Plenty of other big names were totally overwhelmed.
Tiger Woods closed with a 76. Vijay Singh shot 77. Ernie Els, tied with Mickelson at the start of the day, soared to an 80.
Mickelson surged into the lead for the first time all day with a stretch of three birdies in four holes, capped with a short putt at the par-5 16th that sent the gallery into another Phil phrenzy.
Goosen, playing in the final group just behind Mickelson, was in full-scale scramble mode. He kept making mistakes, but bailed himself out with one clutch putt after another.
Mickelson teed off at 17, hoping to hold the green but not too upset when the ball landed in the front left bunker. It balanced on top of the sand, a good lie that allowed him to make the shot he wanted. But he hit the ball above the hole, leaving himself a tricky putt.
In hindsight, it's the sand wedge he'll remember, not the two missed putts.
'I could do whatever I wanted - spin the ball, not spin the ball,' Mickelson said. 'I just didn't judge accurately how the ball would react to that green.'
Goosen made birdie at 16 about the time Mickelson was preparing to putt. When the South African teed off at 17, he had a two-stroke lead. He also drove into a front bunker, but got up-and-down for par.
'I knew that these last two holes were going to be the key holes,' Goosen said. 'I made a good putt on 16 to get even with him, and then he made a mistake and I was, as they say, lucky to hang on.'
If nothing else, this loss wasn't quite as painful for Mickelson as some of his other close calls in the majors.
No one can take away his Masters victory two months ago, the first major title of his career after 42 fruitless tries as a pro.
'No question. Having now won a major, I don't have to answer the same questions about being second again,' Mickelson said. 'As opposed to finishing second this week, which I look at as a very positive sign. I played very well in difficult conditions and came so close.'
A more familiar role for Mickelson.
Related links:
  • U.S. Open Photo Gallery

  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open

  • Leaderboard - U.S. Open

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

    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

    Getty Images

    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

    Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.