Mickelson hopeful of his rival Woods return

By Doug FergusonJanuary 28, 2010, 1:52 am
Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – The biggest crowd at Torrey Pines on Wednesday formed a semicircle around the 10th tee to watch Phil Mickelson, who suddenly is more than a hometown hero. He is looked upon now to deliver star power in the absence of Tiger Woods.

Mickelson relishes just about any challenge that involves Woods.

Just not this one.

“Nobody will be able to … fill the shoes,” Mickelson said.

Speaking for the first time since Woods’ spectacular and sordid downfall led to an indefinite break, Mickelson didn’t bother waiting for the first question at his press conference before the Farmers Insurance Open. He offered a pre-emptive strike filled with compassion and perspective, even if it was short on detail.

“The game of golf needs him to come back,” Mickelson said. “It’s important for him to come back and be a part of the sport. But right now, he’s got a lot more important things going on in his life. Amy and I are good friends with both Tiger and Elin, and we care deeply about how this turns out.

“But I’m going to choose not to talk about it publicly anymore, and I appreciate your understanding on that.”

More questions followed, although Mickelson refused to be drawn into a discussion on whether he can fill the void left by Woods or whether he was surprised by the amount of media coverage, from gossip magazines to standup routines on late shows.

He did confirm that he has tried to reach out to his longtime rival and had “limited communication.”

“With the family – not necessarily saying with who in the family,” Mickelson said.

No one has more to gain than Mickelson while Woods is away.

He is the No. 2 player – in the ranking, PGA Tour victories, television appeal – and even before details emerged of Woods’ infidelity, Mickelson was poised to challenge him like never before.

In their final PGA Tour event, Mickelson charged from behind in the final round of the Tour Championship for a three-shot victory over Woods. The last time they competed was in the final round of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. They played in the final group, and Mickelson turned a two-shot lead over Woods into a six-shot margin at the turn and went on to victory.

The turnaround for Mickelson came in September when he hooked up with former U.S. PGA champion Dave Stockton, who persuaded Mickelson to go back to his old style of putting. Mickelson started making everything, a frightening complement with work he has done on his long game. For the first time, Mickelson believes his driving is a weapon instead of a weakness.

With some 100 fans gathered around, he sent his tee shot well right of the fairway, the bunker and the rough until it settled in a small cluster of trees near the adjacent 18th fairway.

Mickelson simply laughed.

“So much for my driving,” he said.

He is more at ease with himself, on the golf course and at home. Mickelson spent the last two days in Houston getting more cancer treatment for his wife. He says the long-term prognosis is good, although he knows better to take anything for granted with cancer.

Even so, he said the “scary time” was over.

Mickelson is a three-time winner at Torrey Pines, although he hasn’t seriously contended since the South course was revamped and the greens were rebuilt to get ready for the 2008 U.S. Open. He believes he finally knows how to handle it.

Mickelson is among three players from the top 20 – the others are Robert Allenby and Ernie Els.

Storms swamped the courses last week, and while they are in good shape heading into the opening round, officials could only get lawn mowers in the rough on Tuesday. It was still thick, prompting Allenby to say as he studied his ball in the left rough on Wednesday, “We played a U.S. Open here already. Are we playing another one?”

The U.S. Open is the biggest trophy missing from Mickelson’s collection, and he’s hopeful this is the year he wins that and so many other prizes that have eluded him – a money title, PGA Tour player of the year, even No. 1 in the world.

“My whole career, I’ve been trying to get to No. 1,” Mickelson said. “I just haven’t had much success. But this year, whether or not Tiger is in the field, I still believe that this is an opportunity for me to compete in majors, to challenge him. I’ve had some great head-to-head success in the last year or two, and I expect this year – with or without him – to be one of the best years of my career.”

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

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.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

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:

PGA Tour:

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.

LPGA:

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.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

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.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


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).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm