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.
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    After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

    Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

    On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

    Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

    After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

    Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

    A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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    Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

    At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

    “The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

    Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

    Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

    “Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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    Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

    PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

    Laura Davies won the day.

    It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

    Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

    Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

    For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

    In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

    “I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

    At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

    “It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

    Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

    “It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

    With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

    “People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

    “Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

    She also relished showing certain fans something.

    “Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

    Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

    In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

    Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

    “The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

    After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

    “I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

    Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

    In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

    “I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

    And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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    Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

    The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

    “Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

    And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

    After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

    “Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”