Mickelson feels awkward about Hall induction

By Doug FergusonMay 5, 2012, 4:07 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Phil Mickelson has won four major championships and let just as many get away.

In contention at the Masters, he boldly played a 6-iron through a tiny gap in the pines trees that barely cleared Rae's Creek and settled some 4 feet away. In contention at Augusta National this year, Lefty played consecutive shots right-handed on his way to a triple bogey.

He won Colonial by hitting a shot through the trees and over the water. He lost a chance to win Bay Hill by trying to hit a 4-iron under the trees and over the water.

He played a Masters with two drivers in his bag and a U.S. Open with no driver.

Mickelson will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday evening along with four others, taking an undisputed place among the best who ever played this game.

His 42 wins worldwide include three Masters, a PGA Championship and two World Golf Championships. Beyond his trophies, Mickelson is wildly popular with the fans for the way he engages them on the golf course and spends hours signing autographs. For every story about his generosity, there probably are dozens more that never get told.

The definition of Mickelson as a golfing great, however, can be a little trickier.

Geoff Ogilvy, who won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot after Mickelson took double bogey on the final hole, was asked the first thing he would say about Mickelson's legacy. Not surprisingly, he had to think about it.

''There's only one Phil, isn't there?'' Ogilvy concluded. ''He's astonishingly talented. Incredibly talented. And very human. There have been a lot of superstars with kind of this never-do-anything-wrong persona. He's had as much written about stuff he wasn't happy with than the good stuff.

Most superstars have three little blips and 50 great things. He's had 50 great things and 50 things where people are scratching their heads.''

That's the way ''Phil the Thrill'' likes to play.

Two years before Mickelson finally won his first major at the Masters, he defended his approach of taking on any shot without fear, each one a calculated risk. He said he would never change, even if he never won a major, because ''that's how I play my best golf.''

He elaborated more on that at the Wells Fargo Championship, just days before his induction.

''You've got to play without fear,'' he said. ''You're going to make mistakes. It's going to happen. You have to deal with losing. It's part of the Tour. Out of 156 guys each week, one person is going to win, so 155 lose. But you can't worry about that. You've got to let it brush off when things don't go your way. But rather than play tentatively or with concern or fear, or let someone else hand it to you, I've always liked to try to get the tournament in my control.

''I think it's more than desire of trying to control my own destiny than let somebody else handle it, which has forced me to play aggressive.''

Also to be inducted at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., are two-time major champion Sandy Lyle, three-time U.S. Women's Open champion Hollis Stacy, writer Dan Jenkins and British broadcaster Peter Alliss.

Butch Harmon, who began working with Mickelson in 2007, said the win-at-all-cost mentality on the golf course is what separates players like Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els from the others in their generation.

Singh and Els already are in the Hall of Fame. Woods will join them when he reaches the age limit of 40 to get on the ballot.

''Phil has got the biggest set of (guts) of anyone to play the game,'' Harmon said, whose list of clients over the years has included Woods, Els and Greg Norman. ''He's not afraid to try any shot at any time in any situation. And the reason is all he cares about is winning. He's a modern day Arnold Palmer. He's a go-for-broke guy, and he'll tell you that's how he plays.

''He'll say, 'Yes, I cost myself some tournaments. But I won 40 and four majors, and I wouldn't have done that playing any other way.'''Most peculiar among Mickelson's career to date is that he has never achieved No. 1 in anything. He has not been No. 1 in the world ranking or on the PGA Tour money list. He has not won the FedEx Cup in its five years of existence. He has never been voted player of the year.

Part of that is timing, playing all but four full seasons in the era of Woods.

The Woods-Mickelson rivalry, though one-sided in wins and majors and awards, is the most celebrated in golf since the days of Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Mickelson, however, has been linked to Palmer beyond the golf.

Mickelson spends an hour after most rounds, signing his name on flags and programs, making sure it is legible. When there are times he wants a day off from signing autographs, he handles that privately so as not to disappoint.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem often says the image of his players is the greatest asset, and the topic came up last November in Singapore when Mickelson's election to the Hall of Fame was announced.

''He is exactly what you like to see in a player,'' Finchem said. ''If everybody conducted themselves like Phil week and week out, we'd be stronger yet.''

Mickelson said he is honored by his induction, though he is not overly excited. It feels awkward to go into the Hall of Fame at age 41 when he is still among the favorite to win more tournaments, more majors. He already has won this year at Pebble Beach for his 40th career Tour victory, with a goal of reaching 50.

He said his speech likely would focus on what golf has allowed him to do, and he wasn't just talking about winning. It's the places he has been, the people he has met. But as he thought back on 20 years, he recognized the very thing that has made him so much fun to watch.

''The ups and downs, highs and lows, talking about it,'' he said. ''Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's not. All those great experiences that have taken place in the last 20 years, it's really been fun. And I'm appreciative of the fact I've been able to play golf for a living.''

Getty Images

Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

Getty Images

Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

Getty Images

Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

Getty Images

Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.