Notes Leftys Putter Working Nicely

By Associated PressMay 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Wachovia ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Phil Mickelson is back on the course'and he brought his putter.
 
After spending the past few weeks breaking in a new putter and working on his short game, Mickelson made an encouraging return to tournament play Thursday during the first round of the Wachovia Championship.
 
His 4-under 68 included five birdies, a couldve-been-worse bogey and, most importantly, some close-range consistency that was reminiscent of his only win of the year, his two-stroke triumph over Jeff Quigley in February at the Northern Trust Open.
 
I made a lot of putts there, but I didnt feel good with the putter. They went in, but I didnt feel confident with the way they were rolling, Mickelson said. Today was a different day for me on the greens. I mean, not only did I make a lot, but the ones that missed were tracking and coming close to the edges. So I feel like heading in here, Im actually putting better, even though I made a lot that week.
 
Playing at the familiar Quail Hollow Club course where he has three top-seven finishes in four appearances, he posted numbers that back it up.
 
Mickelson made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 1, his 10th hole of the day, and that came after he escaped No. 18 with a bogey. He sent his second shot into the water left of the green, took a drop, placed his fourth shot 8 feet from the pin and made that putt to generate some momentum.
 
You can afford to lose a shot around this course, Mickelson said. Youll make some mistakes, youll make some bogeys, but you dont want to have huge mistakes like doubles, and to make that up-and-down, make that putt, that was a big one.
 
He finished with birdies on two of his final three holes, wrapping up his round by making a 25-foot chip shot on No. 9 that put him atop the leaderboard for a while.
 
In all, he made 15 of 16 putts from inside 10 feet to address an old bugaboo ' he had several misses from close range during a disastrous third round that helped knocked him out of contention at the Masters, his most recent tournament. Since then, he ditched his 33 1/2 -inch putter in favor of one that is 1 1/2 inches longer.
 
Its good to see some positive results from the time I spent the last couple weeks, Mickelson said.
 
NOTHING AMATEUR ABOUT HIM:
Trevor Murphy skipped this weekends Atlantic 10 championship for a shot at playing against the pros. Smart decision.
 
The UNC Charlotte senior and last-minute qualifier shot a 71'not bad for an amateur playing one of the PGA TOURs roughest non-majors.
 
I couldnt even feel the golf club in my hand on my first tee shot, Murphy said.
 
Murphy didnt even make it into the field for this tournament until earlier this week. Because his college team was off last weekend in preparation for the league championship in Orlando, Fla., the former world-class skiier entered himself in Mondays qualifier and tied another player for the final spot through 18 holes.
 
He came back the next day for a playoff, needing two extra holes to claim a spot in a field that includes 18 of the worlds top 25 players.
 
PUTTING PROBLEMS:
Geoff Ogilvys poor putting kept him from taking the lead.
 
Ogilvy didnt have any bogeys during his opening-round 70, but he missed several reasonable birdie putts that prevented him from making a charge up the leaderboard.
 
He missed a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 8, his 17th hole of the round, before tapping in a 2-footer, then finished his day by missing a 30-foot birdie attempt and making a 1-footer.
 
Just missed putt after putt. It was horrible, really, Ogilvy said. Im not going to practice because practicing my putting tends to make me putt worse, so Im going to go home and learn to putt better.
 
SPEED UP!:
Theyve complained about slow play for years on the PGA TOUR, and that topic was discussed during a pre-tournament meeting.
 
We talked a lot about it, and we always do, David Toms said. The issue came up this time about golf course setup, and why does it have to be so difficult. A lot of guys believe that is one of the reasons for the slow play. Golf course setup is why you see pro golfers, the best in the world, a guy shoot 67 and then another guy shoot 79 is because there is such a fine line there. You get on the wrong side, and it just takes a while.
 
So, I think we can do a combination of things. If you ask the field staff, they would tell you theres way too many people playing, and you cant get them around that fast. Golf course setup, I think, is a big deal. If you saw pins in the middle of the greens like you do for the pro-am, I think wed get along a lot quicker. All of it goes hand in hand.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.