Mickelson tuning up for U.S. Open in Memphis

By Associated PressJune 5, 2013, 10:53 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Phil Mickelson is playing the week before the U.S. Open to make sure his game is sharp as possible, particularly after not playing very well at the Masters after taking off before that major.

''I know that for me to be sharp mentally especially into a tournament where the penalty for missing is so great like the U.S. Open, it's important that I'm sharp and I'm ready to play,'' Mickelson said Wednesday after finishing a practice round.

He's got plenty of company at the St. Jude Classic.

The TPC Southwind course plays at a par-70 over 7,239 yards and features small greens that don't hold shots easily, narrow fairways and enough rough to provide a good test before golfers head to Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania. That's why Brandt Snedeker and Boo Weekley are here, giving this tournament a field featuring five of the current top 10 money leaders.

Dustin Johnson is back trying to defend his title. Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old from China, also is here on a sponsor's exemption along with local favorite John Daly.

''This is a great golf course,'' Mickelson said. ''The greens are small, they're difficult to get the ball stopped, and there are a lot of cool little shots around the greens. So the precision of the iron shot into the green as well as the importance of hitting fairways here is a similar style of golf that will happen at Merion next week.''

This will be only Mickelson's third appearance here when this event begins Thursday. While no one has won on the PGA Tour the week before and gone onto win the U.S. Open, Mickelson played the week before winning each of his four majors. He even won the BellSouth Classic in 2006 before winning his second Masters.

''I like playing the week before,'' Mickelson said.

Mickelson tied for 16th in Houston then took off the week before the Masters this year. He wound up tied for 54th with his best score of 71 coming in the first round. Since then, he has played only twice finishing third in Charlotte at the beginning of May and then missing the cut the next week at The Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

So visiting Memphis was a must to avoid going four straight weeks without a competitive round before heading to the U.S. Open. Mickelson last played here in 2009 when he wound up tied for 59th, but he said he remembers how much he likes the course and the challenge offered.

''I love the small greens,'' Mickelson said. ''You really have to be precise with your shot making into the green with your irons to get the ball close to get it stopped. I think that there again it allows the player that is playing well a chance to make birdies and a guy who is not to make bogeys. So you separate the guys that are playing well.''

To Snedeker and Weekley, the TPC Southwind is like a home course.

Snedeker lives in Nashville, a three-hour drive away, and has played here repeatedly over the years. As the defending FedEx Cup champ, this event is even more special with FedEx the event sponsor. He already has a win this year at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February and has six Top 10s in the eight cuts he's made this year putting him third on the money list.

''I love being here, it's been good to me and I feel like the course is in great shape,'' Snedeker said. ''I feel like I have a good chance of playing well this week, and my golf game, even though it didn't look great last week, it feels like it's playing well right now. And I'm excited with what this week can hold, especially considering my past success here.''

Weekley will have plenty of family from his home in Milton, Fla., along with Mississippi and Alabama getting the rare chance to watch him compete in person. He's back on tour after taking a week off following his win at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, in an area where it's hot with Bermuda greens.

''I'm excited to be able to go back to the Open and play again,'' Weekley said. ''I feel like my game's close. Taking a week off and not practicing, just spending time with my kids and stuff. It takes me about another week to get it back together again. That's why I was ready to play this week and get it all ready.''

Johnson is back in Memphis after he won here a year ago in his first time playing this event. He extended the drought of tour winners the week before not winning the U.S. Open when he missed the cut the next week. But he said that was more an issue of the course not setting up for him.

He's back with the same mindset he has every week, especially in a year he started off with his seventh career win.

''I'll take a win every week before a major the rest of my life,'' Johnson said.

Notes: Paul Goydos is making his return to the tour here. The two-time winner had surgery on his left wrist and has not played since the Northern Trust Open at Riviera last year. ... Snedeker is one of four players with six Top 10 finishes this year. ... Billy Horschel, currently fourth among this year's money leaders, made his professional debut at this event in 2009 on a sponsor's exemption.

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)