Notes A Busy Weekend for Mickelson
Neither trip was accompanied by much fanfare.
Mickelson and his wife, Amy, were at a Wal-Mart store at dawn Saturday as 900 children and their parents arrived to get free backpacks loaded with school supplies. It was called Start Smart, a program created by his foundation in which 50 principals from five school districts in San Diego Country selected pupils in grades 1-4 based on need.
Were just so fortunate to be able to help some of the neediest kids in the county, Mickelson said. His foundation contributed $200,000 to Start Smart, while Wal-Mart chipped in $25,000.
Mickelson then went to New Jersey for one of his famed practice rounds, placing tiny flags around the greens and taking copious notes of Baltusrol with hopes of ending the season with a major.
The PGA Championship starts Aug. 11.
Mickelson is among several players who have never seen Baltusrol, which last hosted a major at the 1993 U.S. Open. That was the only U.S. Open that Lefty missed over the last 15 years.
Club members were not aware Mickelson was on the Lower Course until he came off the 18th green and agreed to pose for a picture with Vincent Dolan, Baltusrols newly crowned over-55 champion.
Mickelson played again on Monday, and was joined by none other than Tiger Woods for the final two holes. Mickelson then headed for the International in Colorado, while Woods went home to continue preparation in Florida.
ODDS ON THE ACE
Golf Digest has been the leading source on holes-in-one since it began tracking them worldwide in 1952. In the September issue, the magazine asked Francis Scheid, the retired chairman of Boston Universitys mathematics department to update the odds on making an ace.
The odds of a tour player making an ace are 3,000-1, while it goes up to 5,000-1 for a low-handicap player and stretches to 12,000-1 for an average golfer.
The odds also change dramatically depending on the length of the hole. Scheid determined that an average player making a hole-in-one on a 150-yard hole is 8,000-1, while the odds go up to 15,000-1 for a 200-yard hole.
The highest odds listed in the magazine are for two average players in the same foursome making an ace on the same hole. That would be a mere 17 million-to-1.
MAKE IT LEGIBLE
Peter Jacobsen once learned a valuable lesson from Arnold Palmer in the art of penmanship.
He used to play an exhibition with Palmer, LPGA players and former NBA coach Pat Riley in Los Angeles, and they were working an autograph line when Jacobsen signed a hat and passed it along to Palmer, who promptly shoved it back at him and grilled him over his signature.
He said, What is that? I said, Thats my autograph, Jacobsen said. He said, I cant read it. That scribble may be OK on a check because your banker is not going to look at it, but if somebody wants you to sign a piece of memorabilia, youd better be able to sign it so he can read it.
So from that day on, I always try to sign my signature so I can read it.
Jacobsen remembered that lesson last week at the U.S. Senior Open, when he signed a hat for a young fan that already had other autographs.
I asked him, Do you know who any of those are? Jacobsen said. He said no. I said, What does that tell you? He said, When I get famous, I should scribble my name.
No matter what his birth certificate says, 50-year-old Greg Norman doesnt feel like a senior golfer, and he doesnt intend to become one quite yet.
I feel like Im still young enough to compete with the young guys, which is a good mind-set to have, he said last week at the U.S. Senior Open, where he finished fourth. I still feel like I hit the ball far enough to get it out there. ... To say that Im old and Im a senior golfer, no. I dont want to say that.
Norman finished third at the Senior British Open the week before as part of a five-week stretch. He has the International this week in Colorado, followed by the PGA Championship, where he received a special exemption.
As for the Champions Tour?
Only the majors, the Shark said.
The fifth and final major on the senior circuit is The Tradition, played two weeks after the PGA.
Jeong Jang was so nervous going into the final round of the Womens British Open that she only slept about three hours and woke up at 7:30 a.m., nearly seven hours before she teed off with Annika Sorenstam.
To kill time, she hung out in her room and played on her Game Boy.
I play Tiger Woods Golf. I think it helps my golf game, she said.
Jang closed with a 69 to complete a wire-to-wire, four-shot victory at Royal Birkdale.
Callaway Golf has appointed George Fellows as president and CEO. Fellows has had his own consulting business in New York the last five years, serving as senior adviser to Investcorp and JPMorgan Partners. Before that, he was president and CEO of Revlon, Inc. ... Vijay Singh has won more tournaments (5) sponsored by Buick than Tiger Woods (4), the companys top pitchman in golf. ... Sean OHair, the leading candidate for PGA Tour rookie of the year with nearly $2 million in earnings, has signed with IMG. He had been represented by an attorney in Philadelphia. ... Luke Donald has donated $50,000 from being the 54-hole leader at the Buick Invitational to Driving 4 Life to raise money to find a cure for Lou Gehrigs disease. The program was founded by Jeff Julian and caddie Bruce Edwards, who died of the disease, and by Tom Watson. ... Annika Sorenstam went 49 holes without a bogey at the Womens British Open, the longest streak on the LPGA Tour this year.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods has not finished out of the top three since missing the cut in the Byron Nelson Championship in May.
I cant hear you, the cameras are going off.'Michelle Wie at a news conference on the eve of the Womens British Open.
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Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."