Past Champs Cant Keep Up with Mickelson

By Associated PressApril 9, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There were so many green jackets chasing Phil Mickelson for a time on the back nine at the Masters that the leaderboard looked more like the champions locker room.
 
Tiger Woods. Jose Maria Olazabal. Vijay Singh. Fred Couples. Eight titles at Augusta National among them. And not one of them could make a putt when he needed it most Sunday afternoon.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods missed too many putts to repeat as champion.
'As good as I hit it, that's as bad as I putted,' Woods said. 'If I had putted halfway decently, I'd be giving Phil a battle.'
 
By the end of the day, the parade of former champions couldn't even hold onto second place. That belonged to unheralded Tim Clark, known best as the South African who isn't Ernie Els or Retief Goosen.
 
Clark finished two strokes behind Mickelson at 5-under 283, while Couples, Olazabal, Woods, Goosen and Chad Campbell were another stroke back at 4 under. Singh tied for eighth at 3 under.
 
With Mickelson and Couples paired together, and Woods, Singh and Olazabal giving chase, the final round at Augusta National had all the makings of an epic finish.
 
Woods was seeking his fifth green jacket, with his father battling cancer back in California. Couples was hoping to become the oldest Masters champion ever six months shy of his 47th birthday -- and on the anniversary of Jack Nicklaus' last title, no less.
 
'I felt this great feeling of accomplishment to be able to beat guys like Tiger and Retief and Ernie and Vijay and Fred,' Mickelson said. 'To come out on top, it's a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.'
 
For the others, it was an epic bust.
 
'It's a humbling experience out there, because you're trying so hard,' Couples said. 'I just left too many out there.'
 
Olazabal, the winner at Augusta National in 1994 and 1999, at least made things interesting. Beginning the final round at 2 over, he had birdies on three of his first four holes to post a 32 on the front side.
 
'When I looked at the leaderboard and saw how the guys were not making a charge, I thought, `Well, let's see how well I can play the back nine,'' said Olazabal, who played 10 groups ahead of Mickelson.
 
He shook off a bogey at No. 11 and closed within a shot of the lead with an eagle at the 15th. But he cooled off with a three-putt on the par-3 16th, then had to work to save par on his final two holes.
 
Woods was dismal on the greens, but at least he was consistent. He flubbed short putts on the front nine and the back nine. He pushed them and pulled them. He never could get his speed right.
 
He three-putted from 15 feet for bogey on No. 11, and missed a 12-footer for birdie on No. 12. He missed eagle putts inside 15 feet on both Nos. 13 and 15, and couldn't make a 10-footer for birdie on No. 14.
 
He had three three-putts in all, equaling the first three rounds combined and the most Woods could remember in a single round at Augusta.
 
'I absolutely lost it out there on the greens,' Woods said. 'I'll probably go snap this putter in about eight pieces.'
 
Singh played well, but was never spectacular. He was at 4 under by the turn, but couldn't pick up any more ground.
 
The most disheartening of the collapses was by Couples.
 
One of golf's most popular players, fans were rooting for him to show a bit of immortality. He has one victory in the last eight years, at the 2003 Shell Open, and he threw away the Nissan Open earlier this year when he had an 8-footer for the lead at No. 13 and left it short, then bogeyed three of the last four holes.
 
But this was the 20th anniversary of Nicklaus' victory for the aged, his sixth -- and final -- Masters title at age 46. What better way to celebrate it than to have Couples win it, replacing Nicklaus as oldest champion by about three months?
 
If the ages weren't omen enough, Couples' Masters badge this week -- assigned in order of player registration -- was No. 86, same as the year of Nicklaus' famous charge.
 
'When I teed off,' Couples said, 'I was, in my mind, one of the four, five, six guys that had a chance to win.'
 
For a while, it looked as if he just might. A birdie on the first hole pulled him even with Mickelson, and they went birdie-for-birdie on the seventh. He fell a stroke behind on the next hole, then three-putted for a bogey on 11.
 
He looked as if he might sink even further when his tee shot landed about a foot from the creek on the par-5 13th. But he recovered beautifully, dropping a 4-footer for a birdie for his best putt of the day.
 
'The back nine, we were telling each other, `Let's make some birdies,'' Couples said.
 
His hopes died on the next hole. Needing only to make a 4-footer for a birdie, he pushed it about 5 feet past the hole. His par putt rolled right on by, too, and it looked as if he had lost all touch on the greens.
 
'I'm 46. I don't really feel 46. I didn't hit the ball like I was 46,' Couples said. 'I putted like I was 66. I'm beating myself up, but it just really came down to one minor, minor casualty and that was on 14.
 
'I mean, I can live and die with three-putting and some of the other stuff,' he added. 'But that really is a putt where it would have been a heck of a lot more fun to make and see what would have happened.'
 
Instead, the green jacket in his size was put back in the closet. Along with those of the other champions.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 70th Masters Tournament
  • Full Coverage - 70th Masters Tournament
  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.