Mickelson Right at Home at Torrey

By Associated PressJune 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- This is one U.S. Open where Phil Mickelson should feel right at home.
 
He grew up in San Diego and played high school matches at Torrey Pines. His photo hangs from the concourse in the San Diego airport, along with the citys other famous athletes.
 
This major has been anything but friendly, however.
 
A 34-time winner on the PGA Tour, Mickelson is 0-for-17 in the national championship, and hes tied with Sam Snead for most close calls with four runner-up finishes at the Open.
 
Its becoming Leftys torment as much as the Masters was Greg Normans bugaboo.
 
Well, I love it, Mickelson said. I just havent gotten the love back.
 
Hes gotten plenty of love from this scenic oceanside, canyon-filled course and its bulging galleries, rewarding his hometown cheering sections by winning the Buick Invitational here three times'but not once since the course was revamped in 2001 for the U.S. Open.
 
I havent putted the greens as well since the redesign, said Mickelson, who has spent countless hours on the golf course with short game coach Dave Pelz to rectify that.
 
I should have done it five years ago when I knew the Open was going to be here, Mickelson acknowledged. But Ive been spending a lot of time on the greens to where I feel that not only this week but at future Buicks, Ill know the breaks of the greens and how theyll react, and I should have that local knowledge again on the greens.
 
One thing he already has back in his health.
 
A year ago, Mickelson injured his wrist while practicing out of deep rough at Oakmont for the U.S. Open. He had to withdraw from the Memorial, he missed the cut at the U.S. Open and endured what turned out to be a lost summer.
 
Mickelson has won four tournaments since then, including one in Europe, and he said hes feeling better than ever, save for a bout of what he suspects might have been food poisoning.
 
Ive had kind of a rough week, but I feel great now, he said.
 
He looked fine during a practice round Tuesday, when he drew a boisterous gallery armed with constantly-clicking cameras that wont be permitted come Thursday and throngs of autograph hounds, many of whom he accommodated before capping his Sharpie and apologizing to the rest.
 
I want to make sure my energy is up this week, Mickelson explained later. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to compete in the U.S. Open on the course I grew up on in the prime of my career. And so I want to give myself every opportunity to play my best golf this week.
 
So, Mickelson has canceled all his extracurricular activities to focus on the 72 holes hes dreamed of playing in Southern California ever since he was a little boy scurrying across city-owned Balboa Golf Course at dusk with his dad on all-you-can-play rates after school until it was pitch black.
 
Wed get stranded at 13 or 14 and hike through the cavern or cliff and climb down it to get back to the car, Mickelson said. Those are some of the fondest memories I have of my game.
 
And hed love nothing more than to make more memories this weekend at Torrey Pines.
 
This is a tournament I know and believe I can win, Mickelson said. I think that this golf course gives me the best opportunity available to do that. Winning this tournament would be something that would help define my career.
 
Mickelson hasnt deciphered what exactly has kept him from acing golfs toughest test, which this time measures a record 7,643 yards.
 
I just think that its a very penalizing test of golf, always has been, Mickelson said. What I love about this week is that short game will be a factor. In the past the thick primary rough has gone right up to the edge of the green. Here theres a five-yard layer, lets say, of rough thats tough, but a skillful player around the greens can get the ball close. And I think that having short game be a factor is advantageous to me, gives me a better opportunity to get in contention for the weekend.
 
I think this golf course tests not only your long game, certainly the longest golf course we play, but also your short game.
 
And it will test his nerves, too.
 
Mickelson is paired with the games biggest fan favorite, Tiger Woods, whos coming off knee surgery, and Australian Adam Scott, for the first two rounds.
 
I think that its awesome, Mickelson said. I wish that we had it more. I havent in the past liked the way the PGA Tour puts us on opposite ends every week. I think its great that a major championship has us paired together, because usually one end of the tee times has an advantage over the other.
 
Ive certainly been on the good end a number of times and Im not complaining, but there are times when youre not on the good end, and for us to be on the same end I think makes it a fair championship. And to be paired together is even better.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.