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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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.