Imagine This Phil Mickelson

By Brian HewittJune 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
Imagination.
 
I will cringe every time this week somebody boldly posits that Phil Mickelsons imagination around the greens will make him one of the tournament favorites at Pinehurst No. 2 where the U.S. Open will begin Thursday.
 
Yes, Mickelson has a lively imagination'on and off the course. And yes, Mickelson, who finished second to Payne Stewart in 1999, the last time they played this tournament on this course, is on a very short list of strong favorites.
 
But this imagination thing, I think, does Mickelson a disservice.
 
Mickelsons short game prowess is more a product of skill. And precision. And experience. And preparation. And repetition. He will succeed at getting it up and down more than most, if not all, at Pinehurst NOT because he is making it up on the fly (imagination) but because he has done his physical and mental homework.
 
All kinds of interesting statistics are circulating in the days leading up to the seasons second mens major. Here are a few of my favorites:
 
  • Pinehurst No. 2 played to 74.55 average in 1999. Shinnecock played to an average of 74.08 at the U.S. Open last year. Kind if surprising, no?
     
  • Four under par won at Shinnecock last year, one under won at Pinehurst in 1999.
     
  • In 1999 the field averaged about 46 percent in greens in regulation at the Pinehurst U.S. Open. The tour average is typically about 20 percent higher.
     
    You might also be interested to know that less than 40 percent of the green surfaces at Pinehurst No. 2 are deemed pinnable by USGA set-up people.
     
    All of these numbers help paint a profile of the kind of golf it will take to win this week. It always helps to be long and straight. But at Pinehurst it also helps to hit the ball high.
     
    Since the best players in the world are going to be missing more greens than they are accustomed to, their short games will have to be sharper than a tack.
     
    Players who have to rely on their imagination around the greens this week will have already missed the boat.
     
    Phil Mickelson hits it long and high. He chips and putts like a dream and he knows what it takes to be there late Sunday at this venue in this event.
     
    All of which is why he is my pick to win the golf tournament.
     
    Yes, of course, Tiger Woods fits all the above criteria and he was just one spot back of Mickelson here in 1999. Woods should never surprise anyone when he wins. But he simply must be more consistent off the tee if he is to get half way to the 2005 calendar Grand Slam.
     
    Other names that intrigue me include, Jim Furyk, David Toms, Tim Herron, Davis Love III and, of course Ernie Els. Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh and Luke Donald are not to be ignored. Justin Leonard must be watched, too.
     
    But if you ask me to pick one, my considered imagination tells me it will be Lefty.
     
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
     
    Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst
  • Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

    By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

    Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Getty Images

    LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

    The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

    LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

    "The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

    It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

    "He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

    After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

    The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

    At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

    But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

    What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

    Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

    Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

    Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

    Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

    Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

    Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'


    Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

    Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

    Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

    Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

    Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

    Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

    Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

    Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

    Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

    Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

    Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

    Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving


    Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

    Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

    Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

    Article: Woods back to making full swings

    Woods admits he might never return to competition

    Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing


    Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

    Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

    Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

    Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

    Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

    Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'


    Woods out and about in 2017

    Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

    Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

    Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

    Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm