Mickelson Trying to Live on Straight and Narrow

By Associated PressJune 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Phil Mickelson looked more like a bowler than a three-time major champion, adjusting the black brace on his left wrist as he stared down the first fairway, an alley lined not by gutters but the gnarly, ankle-deep rough of Oakmont Country Club.
 
It was a gentle swing and a favorable result, right down the middle.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has had to limit his practice leading up to the U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
He played only nine holes Tuesday, but it was the first time he had played golf since he withdrew May 31 after 11 holes of the Memorial with an inflamed left wrist. He had hoped to play without pain at the U.S. Open, but he will settle for playing.
 
'I should be able to have it be manageable as long as I don't aggravate it,' Mickelson said. 'Or hit it in the rough.'
 
Talk about a miracle cure.
 
Mickelson's inability to keep the ball in the short grass is the reason he comes to this major with as much inflammation in his psyche as his left wrist. A year ago at Winged Foot, he was one par away from an elusive U.S. Open title until hitting a tee shot off a corporate tent, against a tree and into a bunker, making double bogey on the 18th hole to finish one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy.
 
Having already tied the U.S. Open record for most second-place finishes -- four -- Mickelson showed up at Oakmont two weeks ago for his marathon practice sessions, where he sticks tiny flags on the putting surface and slowly works his way around the green chipping out of the rough from every conceivable angle. He believes that's how he injured his wrist.
 
Now, his best hope this week might be staying out of the thick grass.
 
'I think it's important to drive the ball very well here, obviously, and that's going to be the biggest challenge for me,' he said. 'But this should not be a long-term problem if I don't aggravate the inflammation. And this, unfortunately, isn't the best week for that, given my driving history.'
 
It's not a good week for anyone not at full strength.
 
Reputed to be the toughest golf course in the country, Oakmont offers a complete test. The course is not the longest, even if it has the longest par 5 (667 yards) and longest par 3 (288 yards) in major championship history. The greens are so fast that the U.S. Open staff slows them down to keep it fair.
 
'It's probably the most difficult championship that we face all year, because you're tested from tee-to-green, and you're tested on the greens,' two-time champion Tiger Woods said. 'Generally, if you're missing one facet of your game, more than likely you're not going to win the championship. You have to have everything going.'
 
That presumably means all body parts working at full capacity. And while the pain is in Mickelson's wrist, the key might be his head.
 
'He's a power player,' said Ernie Els, another two-time U.S. Open champion who has played with a bad wrist, back and is just now recovering from surgery to repair knee ligaments. 'You go at it aggressively, you have to just somehow try and put the pain in the back of your head if you can. I don't know how severe it is. When you're under the gun, you get competitive, you want to hit it the way you always do. You've just got try to and not think about it.'
 
This might be the most rust Mickelson has brought to a major championship, certainly this one. He prefers to play the week before a major, but pulled out last week on the PGA TOUR to give his wrist more time to heal. Rarer still is not playing a full 18 holes on any of the practice days leading up to the tournament.
 
'I could have played 18, but I don't want to push it,' Mickelson said.
 
He tried to play last Tuesday and couldn't, so he called his doctors for a cortisone shot to help ease the inflammation. On his way to Pittsburgh, he took a detour to Las Vegas to work with swing coach Butch Harmon. He still couldn't play.
 
But with therapy, ice and rest, Mickelson believes it's getting better.
 
He hit balls for the first time Monday upon his arrival at Oakmont, but only took one swing with the driver and didn't take any full shots off the ground, using a tee to hit middle irons. He only pulled out the driver a couple of times over nine holes Tuesday.
 
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was seeing rough actually shorter than when he got hurt. Woods and Ogilvy noticed the same thing. Ogilvy was reported to have shot 85 last week while losing seven balls, but the Australian set the record straight.
 
'I think I shot 83 and lost two,' Ogilvy said. 'But it was hard. It was five shots harder last Monday than it is right now. I didn't think there would be one score in the 60s at all, and I thought there would be scores in the 90s the way we played it last Monday. But the last couple of days, it's been a lot more playable than that.'
 
Some of that was a storm that moved in over the weekend, some of that was knocking the rust off the lawnmowers.
 
Woods is not convinced about the latter.
 
'I know they had the mowers out there,' he said. 'I don't know if they did anything.'
 
He has played two full practice rounds this week, but plans to do nothing but chip and putt Wednesday. His practice partner has been big-hitting Bubba Watson, and even with Watson's swing speed, Woods was amazed to watch him try to hit 5-iron out of the rough right of the 15th fairway and watch the ball squirt only about 30 feet.
 
That's the reason Mickelson will try to keep his game on the straight and narrow, now more than ever.
 
He switched from bandages to the brace, and says his right wrist also is sore because of favoring it during light workouts. As for his expectation, this is one time Mickelson didn't want to get into any specifics.
 
'I want to ... continue to improve my ball-striking without aggravating my wrist anymore,' he said.
 
The best medicine is staying out of the rough -- for Mickelson and everyone else.
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.