Love should have deviated from plan with Phil, Keegan

By Damon HackOctober 2, 2012, 3:26 pm

Ian Poulter’s eyes defined the 39th Ryder Cup.

But did you see Phil Mickelson’s?

You don’t win 40 PGA Tour events without a love of the chase, so Mickelson got bug-eyed himself, oohing and aahing at his new BFF, Keegan Bradley, and clapping for Justin Rose as the Englishman sank a mile of putts coming home.

Phil’s been on both sides of a sprint like that. At the Ryder Cup, he was at his sporting best.

Sobel: Debunking U.S. Ryder Cup myths

Before Phil met Keegan, the U.S. Ryder Cup team had been searching for an equivalent to Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal. Seve and Ollie arrived at the perfect time for the Ryder Cup. They helped turn an exhibition into a compelling art, displaying so much fire that they could will 10 other men to victory.

Which is exactly why you don’t sit Phil and Keegan in Saturday’s afternoon fourball match, not with the Medinah gallery at full tilt and the Europeans on the ropes.

If you’re Davis Love III, you rip up the script after Mickelson and Bradley’s 7-and-6 victory over Lee Westwood and Luke Donald in the Saturday morning foursomes. You don’t rest them, not with a 3-0 record. You worry about Sunday on Sunday. You get all of Saturday’s points while you can.

As the story goes, Love decided before the competition that no one would play five matches. When Phil and Keegan arrived to the first tee on Saturday morning, they said they would put everything they had into that match because they weren’t playing in the afternoon. At the 10th hole, already comfortably ahead of Westwood and Donald, Davis approached Phil.

“You’re seeing our best,” Mickelson said he told his captain. “You cannot put us in the afternoon. Emotionally and mentally we are not prepared for it, but we have other guys who are dying to get out here.”

Love and Mickelson are two of the game’s gentlemen. The U.S. was cruising. Phil was being diplomatic. But Love should have waved him off and deviated from his game plan. You worry about Sunday on Sunday. You get all of Saturday’s points while you can.

Phil and Keegan didn’t get an opportunity to win a fourth point on Saturday afternoon, to ride that wave of momentum just a little bit longer. And neither won his match Sunday, even with that afternoon rest.

It’s all hindsight now, of course. Few outside of the European team room saw Sunday coming, with Luke taking out Bubba Watson, Justin Rose channeling Justin Leonard, and Poulter morphing into a latter-day Seve.

The U.S. had many other opportunities to snuff out Europe’s rise. Tiger Woods went 0-3-1, extending his mediocre record in the biennial matches. Steve Stricker, chosen as a wild-card pick for his putting, misfired on the greens most of the weekend. Jim Furyk, with a chance to salvage his season, dropped a crucial point to Sergio Garcia in singles.

Soon, Medinah was covered with the waving blue flags of Europe.

Days later, it’s still hard to know exactly what happened. Maybe it’s a cosmic makeup for the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline. Or maybe it’s just golf.

Whatever it is, Love, Mickelson and Bradley will be thinking about it for a long time.

They won’t be alone.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."