Pinehurst Special Place for Mickelson

By Associated PressJune 15, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Phil Mickelson brought his family to the U.S. Open this week, and not just to watch him play golf.
 
He wanted his wife to see where he stayed that eventful week in 1999. He wanted his daughter to understand what happened six years ago when her dad would have given up his chance at an Open title to be able to witness her birth.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson hopes to earn his first U.S. Open title this week.
He wanted them to understand the emotions of frustration and then joy that he felt as he lost an Open and gained a daughter within the space of 24 hours.
 
'We tell the story to our daughter Amanda about her birth and how it all took place and the story about it,' Mickelson said earlier this week. 'It'll be fun for her to be at the place that we've been talking about all these years.'
 
Mickelson was not yet a father on Father's Day 1999, but it seemed he was about to become something else he also wanted badly to be ' an Open champion.
 
He came to North Carolina the night before the Open began, not wanting to leave his expectant wife, Amy, any longer than he had to. He came wearing a beeper that would go off if Amy's water broke.
 
And he came promising everyone he would leave immediately if that happened. Becoming a father, he said, was more important than winning an Open.
 
During the day he played golf ' and played it well. At night, he and Amy talked long hours on the phone about becoming parents for the first time.
 
'My wife and I shared something very special, not only the day after the event ended but throughout the whole week,' Mickelson said. 'We were talking on the phone, talking about how she was feeling, talking about Amanda kicking and the things she was doing.'
 
Mickelson was already stuck with the label of being the best player who had never won a major, and it didn't seem that would be his week. Not only was he preoccupied with Amy's pregnancy, but he had never set foot on Pinehurst No. 2 before.
 
That didn't seem to matter on Thursday when, beeper in his bag, Mickelson opened with a 67 for a share of the first round lead. He came into the interview area afterward and told a disbelieving media he would pack up his clubs and go home when the beeper went off, no matter if he was leading the Open.
 
'It's not worth the tournament,' he insisted. 'As important as the U.S. Open is to me and every other player in the field, this is the birth of my first child.'
 
Mickelson followed with rounds of 70 and 73 and was a stroke behind Payne Stewart entering the final round. The beeper still hadn't gone off and now Mickelson moved into the lead on the back nine on Father's Day.
 
Standing on the 16th fairway ahead by a shot, Mickelson thought the Open was his to lose. Then Stewart saved par with a 25-footer on 16, Mickelson missed his 6-foot par putt and Stewart birdied the 17th with a 6-iron to 3 feet.
 
Mickelson still had a shot. Stewart was in trouble on 18, and Lefty's 25-foot birdie putt stopped just inches short. He then watched as Stewart stood over his 15-footer to win in the fading light and stroked it into the cup for the win.
 
Stewart celebrated, then went up to Mickelson, grabbed both sides of his face and said to him, 'Good luck with the baby. There's nothing like being a father.'
 
'I was so focused and I really thought I was going to win the tournament and it was kind of a shock to me that it didn't happen,' Mickelson said.
 
Stewart's putt didn't just go down in Open history. It also prevented a Monday playoff that might have been a one-man affair.
 
Amy's water broke the next day, just about the time the playoff would have started. By then, Mickelson had already flown in his private jet home and was with her for Amanda's birth.
 
'I would have left,' Mickelson said, assuming there was a playoff. 'I would have just made it back probably.'
 
Six years later, Mickelson returns to Pinehurst still looking for his first Open win. This time he's more prepared, having spent several days working on his short game around the tricky domed greens on No. 2 and trying to keep his driver under control for the tight fairways.
 
He's no longer the best player never to win a major ' his Masters win last year eliminated that tag ' but Mickelson is eager to win a bunch more. He came close two more times last year, and credits his improved play to coming prepared with a game plan.
 
'That's been exciting for me because my performance in the majors has improved dramatically,' he said. 'My consistency in the majors has improved.'
 
Mickelson is now the father of three, and he knows there wouldn't be a better Father's Day present than to be able to celebrate with his family while holding the Open trophy.
 
Amanda, who turns 6 next week, could celebrate with her dad just like she did at the Masters last year when Mickelson held her in his arms and said:
 
'Daddy won! Can you believe it?'
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  •  
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    Getty Images

    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

    Getty Images

    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

    Getty Images

    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

    Getty Images

    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry