Mickelson outshines Woods, Scott at Deutsche Bank

By Doug FergusonAugust 30, 2013, 7:53 pm

NORTON, Mass. (AP) – Phil Mickelson keeps saying how much he loves playing with Tiger Woods. He shot 63 at the Deutsche Bank Championship to prove it.

In a feature grouping of the top three players in the world ranking, Mickelson turned in the star performance Friday morning with a 28 that allowed him to consider – but only briefly – another shot at 59.

By the end of the day, when he played a risky shot from deep in the trees on his final hole to salvage bogey, he was happy to be in the lead. Mickelson had a one-shot lead over Kevin Stadler among early starters.


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''What Phil did today was pretty impressive,'' Woods said after a 68 that only seemed worse considering the company he kept.

Masters champion Adam Scott, rounding out the 1-2-3 pairing, struggled to a 73 and joked later that he rolled out of the wrong side of the bed.

Mickelson did everything right.

He started his round on the TPC Boston by making birdie putts of 20 feet on No. 10 and 30 feet on No. 11. He ended the front nine with five straight birdies, only the second nine-hole score of 28 on the PGA Tour this year. And even after a bogey from the bunker on No. 1, he hit a 6-iron from 213 yards that settled just more than a foot away for eagle on the next hole. That put him at 8 under for his round with seven holes to play.

''It was a good start,'' Mickelson said. ''I got off to a great front nine and somewhat stalled on the back. But after shooting 7 under the first nine, it was going to be a good round as long as I didn't mess it up.''



He tried. Mickelson ended his brilliant round with two words: ''Oh, no.'' He hit a snap-hook off the ninth tee, so far right that it missed the fairway by some 40 yards and went so deep in the woods that fans could barely see Mickelson ducking and weaving through the branches to find his ball.

He decided against a one-shot penalty drop out of the lateral hazard, fearing the slope would roll the ball too close to the branches and restrict his swing.

''Just give me an 8- or a 9-iron,'' he told his caddie, Jim ''Bones'' Mackay. He was ready to hack away when his caddie reminded him the gallery was still in the way. Choking well up the grip, flattening the swing to avoid limbs, Mickelson chopped it out to the rough and still had 210 yards left. He knocked that one on the green and two-putted for his bogey and a 63.

It was at the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2007 when Mickelson first got over the mental hurdle of playing with Woods, his longtime nemesis. He said swing coach Butch Harmon, who formerly worked with Woods, gave him a few tips about playing with the world's No. 1 player that relaxed Mickelson.

In the 15 rounds they have played together since, Mickelson has a 9-5-1 advantage in posting the lower score. He has shot the better score all five times in the final round, three of those leading to wins.

Mickelson had said Woods ''brings out the best in me'' on Thursday after his pro-am round. When asked about that again after his 63, Lefty smiled and said, ''After today, it's hard to think any differently.''

Woods referred to the course as ''gettable,'' the same description he gave of Muirfield when Mickelson shot 66 on the final day to win the British Open, considered one of the great closing rounds in a major. That was the case, though. The TPC Boston was soft enough – and the fairways wide enough – to allow some low numbers.

Hunter Mahan opened with a 65, while PGA champion Jason Dufner, Lee Westwood and Harris English were among those at 66.

Woods said his back felt fine, and there were no outward indications he was in any pain. The only thing that hurt was not hitting enough shots close for birdie chances, and missing a few at the end. Woods had a 6-foot birdie putt on the seventh and a downhill birdie putt from about 12 feet on his last hole, missing both of them.

''The back is good,'' Woods said. ''Unfortunately, I didn't give myself a whole lot of looks.''

It was another great start for Mickelson, who missed a 59 by a fraction of an inch this year at the Phoenix Open. And the timing could not have been better.

Even though the majors are over, and Mickelson added a big one at the British Open, the next month is a great chance for him. For all his greatness over the last two decades – 42 career wins on the PGA Tour, five majors and a spot in the Hall of Fame – he came along at the wrong time. Mickelson has never been player of the year, No. 1 in the world or tops on the PGA Tour money list. And he hasn't won the FedEx Cup, now in its seventh year.

This might be his best chance. Mickelson feels great, though at 43 he was reminded he wasn't getting any younger when he went home to San Diego last week to take his oldest daughter to high school.

With two wins – one a major – and a runner-up in the U.S. Open, another win at a FedEx Cup playoff event might be enough to get voted PGA Tour player of the year. Woods has five wins, all of them strong, but failed to win a major.

''If I finish off with one or two wins this year, and win the FedEx Cup, I think that would be enough to get the player of the year,'' he said. ''My game clicked again last week, and I feel like these next three weeks I'm going to play very well. I can just feel it. You can just tell sometimes. The game feels sharp. And mentally, I have a lot of energy and I'm able to focus clearly. And that's usually when you play well.''

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.