Phil Makes US Open Prediction

By Associated PressJune 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
HARRISON, N.Y. - Winged Foot's thick rough was still on Phil Mickelson's mind a day after his latest practice round on the difficult U.S. Open venue.
'I'm going to make a prediction that somebody hits the wrong ball in the rough,' Mickelson said Wednesday after his pro-am round in the Barclays Classic.
'The reason is there have been a lot of members that have been playing and when they hit balls in the rough you can't find it. ... There are, I think, not just hundreds, but thousands of golf balls in the rough that you just can't see.'
While the Barclays Classic's Westchester Country Club is an ideal tuneup for the U.S. Open next week, the PGA Tour's setup on the hilly, tree-lined course is far less demanding off the tee than the long and narrow Winged Foot layout.
'Even though the rough is up, it's nothing like what I saw at Winged Foot,' Mickelson said. 'I haven't seen rough that thick and dense, I don't think ever.'
While Tiger Woods and some other top players rest the week before a major championship, Mickelson prefers to prepare with tournament play.
'I think competing for a championship, feeling the importance of each shot and trying to play at a high level ... is a great way to prepare for trying to do the same thing the next week,' Mickelson said.
Mickelson worked the pre-major strategy to perfection in April, following a 13-stroke victory in the BellSouth Classic with his second Masters win in three years. He also won the final major last year, the PGA Championship at Baltusrol.
'Winning in Atlanta gave me a lot of confidence heading into Augusta,' Mickelson said. 'It was nice to have been able to win by a large number where I wasn't feeling the stress and the pressure on the weekend.'
Coming off a fourth-place tie Sunday in the Memorial, Mickelson played in the rain Wednesday morning in the pro-am. Rain also is expected Thursday, Friday and possibly Saturday on the already-soggy course.
'The negative is that we're not able to get out and practice and work on it, but the positive is that you get some rest,' Mickelson said.
Mickelson is making his fifth career start at Westchester. He tied for 16th last year, five strokes behind winner Padraig Harrington.
'The golf course here at Westchester is just a terrific course,' Mickelson said. 'It's a U.S. Open venue that we get to play every year.'
Mickelson used two drivers ' one with a right-to-left bias and the other with a left-to-right ball flight ' in the BellSouth Classic and Masters and said he might put two in his bag again this week and next, depending on the weather.
'If it's raining, wet and playing long, then I'll use two,' Mickelson said. 'If it's warm, hot and starts getting fast and drier, I'll probably just use one.'
Two-time Westchester winners Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia also are in the strong field along with Harrington, Retief Goosen, Stuart Appleby, Fred Couples, David Toms and European tour money leader David Howell.
Last year, Harrington holed a 65-foot eagle putt on the final hole to beat Jim Furyk by a stroke. Harrington, a playoff loser to Garcia in 2004 in his first Westchester start, was three strokes behind Furyk with five holes to play.
'The last two years, it's been very warm and the golf course has been firm,' Harrington said. 'It's a totally different golf course. It'll be interesting to see how I fare on it now. It's a different test of golf.'
Divots:@ Furyk withdrew Wednesday because of an upper-back injury after also skipping his charity event Monday in Pennsylvania. ... Mickelson leads the tour in earnings ($3,475,658), scoring average (69.34), putting (1.703 per green reached in regulation) and birdies (4.98 per round). He's also tied for the lead in victories (two) and second in greens in regulation (70.7 percent). ... Ernie Els, the 1996 and '97 winner, withdrew Monday. ... Loren Roberts, a three-time winner this year on the Champions Tour, is making his fourth PGA Tour start of the season. He leads the 50-and-over tour's money list with $1,282,520. ... The tournament is in its 40th season at Westchester. ... The winner will receive $1,035,000 from the $5.75 million purse.
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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.