Here Come the Slump Mongers
We also throw in a little Michelle Wie for good measure.
Without further ado:
Art writes: As a long time Phil Mickelson fan, I too, am somewhat puzzled by his lack of sharpness so far. He didnt look like he was physically fit and his game looks like he decided to get ready by playing on the Tour because he doesnt look like hes hit many shots during his break. However, maybe this is his rope-a-dope season. Hell let all the others take their shots and then hell come out for the majors and gun down the field. Probably not. For whatever reason, he just doesnt look right this year ' yet. Personally, I think he needs to go with one coach. Id go with Butchie and forget Pelz. Phil is too analytical as it is and with Pelz he gets worse. Hell remain my man as some of this is what makes PhilPhil. By the way, if I were his trainer I would tell him to work the waistline harder or lose the wide, white belts.
Ah, yes, the belt. The Comebacker has a lot of heat to pass along about the belt. My take: If golf were only about fitness and style, Camilo Villegas would be No. 1 in the world. But its not and hes not.
Greg writes: I believe that Phil has a serious wardrobe malfunction that began at the end of last season with the terrible looking skin tight shirts that he began wearing, especially restrictive around the bicep area. Also, the white belt that he had on Sunday looked absolutely atrocious. The fact of the matter could be that he is in a midlife crisis or he needs a new wardrobe manager ASAP. Either that or he needs to let his wife do his clothes for the week. I guarantee if she mentioned anything about that belt on Sunday, we'll never see it again. The Phil that most fans really respect and admire do not worry about any fashion sense at all because the neatness of old never gets old. The Phil that I'm sure will show up in the next few weeks is the Phil that is refocused on the moment and lets his clubs do the talking, which we all know he will do sooner rather than later.
Greg, who died and appointed you the golf fashion czar? As for Phils game, he could have a bad year and win twice just on talent alone. Matter of fact, I think thats what he did last year.
David writes: I am not usually in agreement with Brian Hewitt, but this time he's right. I have been a huge fan of Mickelson for many years. I cried when he won his first Masters. But even I have had enough and am only giving him one more chance. I watched in horror the various mediocre exhibitions put on in 08. This year I am now feeling the tease from my golf partners as to 'whats up with your boy?' This is it Phil, get your @#$% together or I'm rooting for Camilo.
First of all, The Comebacker always agrees with Brian Hewitt. That would be because The Comebacker IS Brian Hewitt. Second of all, in case anybody isnt sure, Camilo is the guy with the better belts.
Rich writes: I guess what I want to know is...who cares about rankings except you guys? The PGA Tour is a job where you make money, not friends. I love golf and I enjoy watching the Tour, but all of this silliness about rankings, and babies is nonsense. I know it is your job to put out such crap, but you have to start realizing the majority of viewers are golfers and we already know everything you all espouse day after day. It is boring and a non-event as they all are. Give us all a break and talk about something that has value.
Like it or not, the birth of Tiger Woods children is news. And believe me, there are 64 guys who care a lot about the world rankings. Those would be the guys getting into the WGC-Accenture Match Play, based off the rankings posted next Monday morning.
Gloria writes: I think Phil has a big head and a bigger ego. He has screwed up his head so much with equipment that he doesn't know which way his tee shots will go. You can drive the ball as far as you like, but if your short game is crap it doesn't matter how far you drive the ball. I am sick and tired of the sports announcers making excuses for Phil's bad course management and bad play. Let's tell it like it is. Thank you for letting me vent. I am just so sick and tired to Phil.
All right, you guys (and gals) are starting to wear me down with all this Phil-bashing. And, to be sure, the preponderance of the e-mails is anti-Phil. Does anybody care that this guy, even if he never makes a cut the rest of his career, is a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
Todd writes: Your words: We don't want to sound like were picking on you (Phil), BUT that's exactly what youre doing. Phil says some things sometimes that make you wonder. So do you, thats how you make a living criticizing people. Maybe he'll have a better middle or later part of the season success, who knows...seems to me youre jealous. Phil can't help he makes more money in his free time than you and your entire family combined...its just amazing how the Golf Channel looks for the first opportunity to rip into Phil, even though he's without a doubt one of the best in his generation. Why didn't you rip John Rollins, when he clearly choked coming down the stretch at Torrey. Now, if that were Phil, you would throw it in his face every time he tees it up this year. Now, at times criticizing him is right, but you guy's do it constantly.
Todd, youve said a mouthful. About the only thing I agree with is the John Rollins point. And, by the way, quit peeking at my pay stubs.
Stephen writes: I believe that Phil is mentally and physically going down the wrong slope. With his teachers of Rick and Dave I really think they are playing with his head too much. With his white belt it really shows that Phil is really living the good life. If I was him, I would work on his game by stopping everyone telling him that he can produce miracle shots with a new driver. Go down to his basement and look himself in the mirror and say What do I wont to do with my golfing career? I really think Phil could sharpen his game and his mind set by himself. Take off a few pounds and work on his body mass.
For starters, Phils teachers (last time I checked) were Butch and Dave. As for the weight thing, Phils never going to be svelte. Its a subcutaneous thing. Finally, most people I know dont need to go to the basement to look in the mirror.
Thomas writes: Unless you have been in this man's shoes, you do NOT know ' I am a golf fan; At 50, I can go back to Jack's early days when he was not very popular for displacing Arnie as 'king.' I cannot think of another golfer (with three majors and more than 30 Tour wins) picked upon, micro-analyzed, etc ... (Tom Weiskopf?). Independent of how he plays early this season, Phil will be welcomed to Bethpage by adoring N.Y. golf fans. Why? Because he shows his love for the game with an affinity for the fans and a respect to acknowledge them on the course. Have you seen him play and compared his 'on course likeability' to others? Very few beat him. Lighten up on Phil! He is not Tiger, but he truly aspires to be in a final pairing with Tiger.
Finally, somebody on Phils side. And to be clear, here: Phil is one of the most popular players of all time. He also happens to be an easy target for e-mailers who dont have to look him in the eye.
Jean writes: I am tired of hearing about spoiled brat (Michelle) Wie. She needs to grow up and learn she is not the only player on the LPGA.
Spoiled? Maybe a couple of years ago. A brat? I never saw that side of Michelle Wie. You might be surprised at the 19-year-old version of Michelle Wie. Her life has calmed down quite a bit and, yes, shes growing up.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.
The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.
"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."
Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.
It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.
Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.
He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.
Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.
The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.
''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''
Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.
''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.
Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.
“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”
Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.
Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.
Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.
Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”
Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.
“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.
This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.