Notes Leftys Creative Memento Dean and Annika

By Associated PressAugust 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill -- Phil Mickelson's imagination goes beyond the golf course.
Mickelson's victory last year at Baltusrol made him the host of the Tuesday night dinner for past PGA champions, and with that comes the responsibility of giving each champion a gift.

Rich Beem gave everyone Ostrich cowboy boots. Tiger Woods' gift was a personalized humidor one year, and a clock showing the time zones of all four majors in 2000. Shaun Micheel presented everyone with an electric guitar.
And Mickelson?
'It's tough to get winners of the PGA Championship a really nice gift on an $80 budget,' Mickelson joked.
His gift wasn't expensive, but it took plenty of work.
'We found some cool things,' he said. 'We went back and found all the past newspaper clippings from the day they were born, and all the newspaper clippings from the week of tournament they won.'
He and his wife, Amy, created leather-bound books to hold the clippings.
It was a similar to the book his wife made in 2004 when she collected newspaper clippings of his first Masters victory.
Dean Wilson figured he would forever be linked with Annika Sorenstam until he won a PGA TOUR event. Three years after he played with her at the Colonial, Wilson won the International.
He and Sorenstam have remained close friends and stay in touch.
Sorenstam and Tiger Woods often text message each other after winning majors as they keep score of who has the most. Woods now has 11 majors to Sorenstam's 10.
Wilson thought that was a good idea.
'I guess I should put 68-1,' he said, noting that Sorenstam has won 68 times on the LPGA Tour.
Then he came up with a better idea, realizing that the Swedish star has only played one time on the PGA TOUR, missing the cut.
'Maybe I'll make it 1-0,' Wilson said with a laugh.'
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have nothing on Jay and Jerry Haas.
One pairing in the PGA Championship excites golf fans. The other is even more exciting to the Haas family.
The two brothers tee off together Thursday in the final major of the season, the first time brothers have competed in the PGA Championship since Lanny and Bobby Wadkins in 1995 at Riviera.
'For me it's a thrill playing with my best friend and brother,' Jay Haas said.
Jay Haas is the better known of the two, playing in his 27th PGA Championship and coming in as the reigning PGA senior champion. Jerry Haas is nearly 10 years younger and bounced among various tours for years before becoming the golf coach at Wake Forest and earning a spot by finishing in the top 25 at the Club Pro Championship.
Jerry Haas said playing with his brother should help calm some nerves for him in the first two rounds at Medinah Country Club.
'I don't get to play very much. I'm a little bit out of my element maybe,' he said. 'I told somebody, now he can't tell me what to do for four and a half hours. That's against the rules.'
Jay Haas won nine times on the PGA Tour and has five wins on the Champions Tour, and at the age of 52 will be a long shot for his first major championship. Jerry Haas, whose biggest year included three wins on the Nationwide Tour in 1994, will face even longer odds.
That doesn't make it any less fun for the two, who also played together in the 1989 Hawaiian Open.
'He's my biggest fan,' Jay Haas said. 'And I'm his biggest fan.'
Ernie Els is back in the PGA Championship after missing last year because of a knee injury.
The knee seems healed, and Els' golf game is beginning to heal nicely, too.
Els is coming off a strong finish in the British Open, where he finished third, five strokes behind Tiger Woods. The South African said the finish gave him some confidence heading into the final major championship of the year.
'It was a good week,' Els said. 'You know, I took a lot of positives out of that one. Being in contention over the weekend was wonderful.'
Els has won two U.S. Opens and a British Open. Missing from his resume are both a green jacket, and the Wanamaker Cup that goes to this week's winner. He likes the way Medinah Country Club suits his game, however, and he likes the way his swing looks, too.
The only thing holding Els back may be his putter.
'I would say early in my career I probably made more putts than I do right now,' he said. 'I may be a more streaky putter. So yeah, that's that.'
Chris DiMarco has played the final round of a major with Tiger Woods (2005 Masters) and Phil Mickelson (2004 Masters). Asked the difference, he used an analogy for his beloved Florida Gators.
'Tiger has become like my Florida Gators. I think people either love them or they don't want them to win,' DiMarco said. 'I don't say that in a bad way, not because of him. It's just that he's so good that I think people are tired of seeing him win.'
That made partial sense, because Woods has won 11 majors.
The Gators have only one national title.
After his final practice round Tuesday, defending champion Phil Mickelson still wasn't sure whether he would use two drivers -- one built for a draw, the other for a fade -- like he did in winning the Masters.
'The difference is the temperature,' he said. 'If it's warm enough where I can hit 3-wood on some of the other par 4s, where I just want to get the ball in the fairway, then I will most likely just use one driver.'
Mickelson didn't have a 3-wood at Winged Foot, taking it out of the bag in favor of a 64-degree sand wedge to chip out of the rough.
The two-driver system was brought up on the first tee Tuesday morning as Mickelson waited to tee off.
He saw Brad Faxon and Brett Quigley both playing a Titleist driver that still had a green sticker at the base of the shaft.
'Do you have to return this to the pro shop after the round,' Mickelson said, a reference to clubs used as demos.
Faxon shook his head.
'This one is for the draw,' he said, tapping his driver. Then pointing at Quigley's driver, 'And this one is for the fade.'
The tee erupted in laughter as Faxon and Quigley hit their drives.
Tiger Woods and Ernie Els will compete on the Asian Tour in separate events in the next few months. Woods confirmed that he will play in the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, where last year he was runner-up to David Howell. Els will be playing in the Singapore Open. ... Woods can make some more history at Medinah this week. No one has ever won the PGA Championship twice on the same golf course. Woods won by one shot over Sergio Garcia in 1999.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.