Mickelson looking to shake his West Coast doldrums

By Associated PressFebruary 19, 2009, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenLOS ANGELES ' Not even the player parking lot at Riviera was immune to a traffic jam. Phil Mickelson waited not only for the other courtesy cars to clear, but for attendants to move two orange cones and two golf bags so he could park in a special place.
Being the defending champion has its privileges.
Mickelson took a five-year hiatus from the Northern Trust Open, but he fell in love with the tournament upon his return. He lost in a playoff one year, then atoned for that with a two-shot victory last year.
Now, Riviera could be just what he needs.
Lefty usually thrives on the Left Coast, with 16 victories and 40 finishes in the top 10. But this has been a dismal start to his season, having missed the cut in Phoenix and failing to crack the top 40 at Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson hasn't had a lot of reasons to celebrate this season. (Getty Images)
Ive played well here the last couple of years, Mickelson said Wednesday before teeing off in his pro-am. I had a good practice session this morning, and I think its starting to come around. But the first three weeks obviously were not what I wanted. This is a great place to get it turned around.
Mickelson hasnt been able to pinpoint the problem, but he cant ignore the shots that stray out-of-bounds, or making bogeys on the par 5s. His goal for the week is to get the misses back under control.
Is he worried?
I dont think worrying is the word, Mickelson said. I think about it a lot, trying to figure out what exactly is going on. Right now, its just been a little rusty and I havent played the way I would like. It doesnt feel as far off as the scores are indicating, so I feel like if I can just get a little thing here and there, and the misses can come back down into play, Ill be OK.
The Northern Trust Open again has a strong field'not quite as strong as last year, when it had more players in the top 15 of the world ranking than any event behind the four majors, three World Golf Championships and The Players Championship.
Mickelson is among five of the top 10 at Riviera, which has an international feel for the first time this year on the PGA Tour.
Part of that is because the Accenture Match Play in next week in Arizona, so several European Tour players are making their U.S. debut, from Soren Hansen and Graeme McDowell to Jeev Milkha Singh and Oliver Wilson.
But the out-of-towner making the biggest buzz is 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa.
Hello, America, the Japanese sensation said when introducing himself in English during his press conference.
Ishikawa made history at age 15 when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup on the Japan Golf Tour while a freshman in high school. That made him the youngest winner on a tour recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking.
He won again last year in his first full year as a pro, finishing fifth on the Japanese money list.
No matter how he fares at Riviera, he already is assured of having the largest media following. Tournament organizers received an additional 100 requests for credentials from the Japanese, and the PGA Tour hired an interpreter and assigned an additional media official just to shadow the teenager known in Japan as the Shy Prince.
How does one so young cope with so much attention?
Ive been asked the same question, if I feel any pressure, Ishikawa said. But actually, I havent thought about pressure itself. At times, I get nervous, but I always try to be positive, rather than negative. More fans come to watch, and Im more happy.
Tiger Woods was 16 when he made his PGA Tour debut, but he was still an amateur, still wild and shot 72-75 to miss the cut. Ishikawa was already a pro at that age, and so far up the world ranking that he narrowly missed qualifying for the Match Play.
All of this is difficult for someone like Hunter Mahan to grasp.
I was 17 and played Travelers Championship in Hartford and just missed the cut by one, he said. But to be a pro, Ive got no chance at that? I wouldnt know what to do. I would probably have to call my mom and go, What do I do? I want to eat, what do I do? I wasnt mature enough to handle it. But Im sure he is.
The other special guest at Riviera is Vincent Johnson, an Oregon State graduate who received the first Charlie Sifford Exemption for players who represents the advancement of diversity in golf.
That will make it two tournaments in the last three weeks with a player of African-American heritage, and Woods hasnt even played this year as he recovers from knee surgery.
Its just been a little surreal, this whole thing, Johnson said. Finding out that I was just a candidate, I was really honored because of what Mr. Sifford stands for. And to receive it things like this dont happen to me.
Ishikawa is used to this, and Johnson figured that out during a practice round Tuesday. After walking off the green, the first thing he noticed behind him was a group of 50 photographers and a kid in bright yellow pants.
Now I know how Tiger feels, Johnson said. It was good that it was behind me. But Im sure at this point, hes oblivious to it.
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  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."