But Mickelson is not the story of the day in his sport.
Lefty conducts a four-day clinic at the BellSouth in Atlanta: Off the charts statistics; 28 under par; 28th PGA Tour victory; and two drivers in the bag simultaneously, an equipment choice he promises to continue at this weeks Masters in Augusta.
And the ladies in the California desert upstage him.
Karrie Webb returns from a forgotten place and holes a wedge that disappears into the 72d hole from more than a 100 yards away moments after we hear her caddie, in a half whisper, pray for it to be the right club today.
Then Michelle Wie, Lorena Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis'playing in the same group, stir us with their attempts to join Webb in a playoff at the LPGAs first major of the year.
Wie, 16, and Gulbis, 23, both fall one shot short. Both are still looking for their first LPGA victory. We will be watching closely. How can we not?
Ochoa, 24, stripes a 5-wood from 223 yards away that stops 12 feet from the hole. She drains the eagle putt and instantly exorcises the demons that invaded her psyche last year, most notably at the U.S. Womenss Open.
Webb birdies the first playoff hole and makes us wonder where she had been. She had been written off by harsher critics. She is only 53 weeks older than Tiger Woods. And isnt his career just coming into full flower?
To be sure, whats coming into full flower, in case you hadnt noticed, is the bud that is womens golf. Annika Sorenstam, the best female player in the world, wasnt a factor Sunday in California and the Kraft Nabisco still gave us high drama, high quality golf and high network visibility.
We even got yet another great call from CBS announcer Verne Lundquist, who, it seems, manages to be on the mike whenever anything great happens in golf. How Do You Do, he shouted at precisely the right volume at precisely the right time after Webbs eagle wedge found the hole.
How do you do?
The LPGA does quite nicely for itself these days, thank you very much.
Even better for womens golf, their Sunday-beautiful-Sunday came the week after the men commanded golfs theater at The Players Championship and the week before the men demanded that same theater at this weeks Masters. It came in between the two biggest days of the year in college basketball. It was serendipitous.
And already there is a buzz in anticipation of the McDonalds LPGA in June followed, weeks later, by the U.S. Womens Open.
Will it be Wies time? Is all that quality range time Gulbis has been spending with Butch Harmon about to pay off in spades? Will Annika come roaring back? How much will all of this push Paula Creamer? Can Webb win another major (shes only two behind Sorenstam now with seven)?
These are just a few of the questions we are now asking about womens golf.
It wasnt all that long ago we were asking what was wrong with the LPGA.
Karrie Webb won the tournament Sunday in California.
Womens golf won the day.
Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change
Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.
David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.
“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.
Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.
“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”
Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.
The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.
Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.
Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:
1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.
2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.
While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:
The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.
We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18