For Mickelson Its Family First
The latest reminder that Mickelson is finished for the year ' absolutely, totally, irrevocably ' came last week when the PGA of America announced that Mickelson would pass up his spot in the four-man Grand Slam of Golf. Mickelsons victory in this years Masters guaranteed him that position next month in Hawaii. But Mickelson said no thanks to the easy money and the vacation in a tropical paradise, leaving the PGA scrambling to get Mike Weir.
Mickelson doesnt appear to care about the cash. After the recent Ryder Cup, he turned down the chance to play in the no-cut WGC-American Express a short hop away near London. He, of course, will be skipping another lucrative payday when the Tour Championship is played the first week of November. And dont expect him either at the Mercedes Championships, reserved for tour winners, come January.
Thats a guaranteed $320,000 he has/will pass up just for showing up, staying awake and finishing last. Oh well, $100,000 just isnt what it used to be, I guess.
On the other hand
There has to be something about this guy you can admire. I mean, he already has won in excess of $4 million this year, and probably has $10-15 million more in endorsement money. Career-wise, hes won $40 million and been awarded probably two or three times that in outside earnings. Come on, people - how much can one family spend? And at what point do you stop equating everything to money?
Mickelson has three children now, the oldest age 7, the youngest age 3. Mickelson chooses to work at his occupation eight months a year and devote the other four months totally to his family. Now, if you could make $20 million in one year, wouldnt you knock off after eight months and just enjoy doing what YOU want to do?
I havent talked to Phil recently ' in fact, no one has. Hes been incommunicado. But over the past couple of years he has given plenty of interviews detailing his down time ' which, admittedly, is considerable. He has candidly revealed his whereabouts the end of the year, what he does after he throws the clubs in the closet.
He takes his family skiing. He takes each child on a separate vacation. It's that one-on-one time that I really cherish that I kind of find out and I learn a lot about them, said Mickelson.
He and his wife take a special trip to celebrate their November anniversary. He does a few things for corporate clients, does some photo shoots and attends a few functions. And ' he spends time at home, doing what millions of men in America do. He relaxes. He has an income that allows for that luxury.
It would wonderful if he played in 30 tournaments a year instead of 20. It would be wonderful if he played all over the world instead of just the U.S. It would wonderful if he decided to play after the end of August, at least go to three or four places where they have never seen Phil Mickelson. But he doesnt choose to do so, and he is playing perfectly by the rules if he closes out his tournament schedule a couple of months early.
I think the big thing for me is that I need an end point, he once said. You know, I can go at it hard, with the idea that once you go to this point, you can take some time off. And what I like is that there's an end point now, as opposed to dragging on for 12 months and never having the point where you relax and say, OK, we're done for a while, let's take a break.
Mitigating it all is the fact that Mickelson and wife Amy give so much time and money to charity. Lets see, these are just the ones I could quickly find: he donated $250,000 of his own money ' not the tours ' to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, and plans to do so for the next four years; he gives $200,000 to needy children in the San Diego area (his home ' not only donates, but donates his time as well, shaking hands with 1,000 students); he donates $100 for each birdie and $500 for each eagle to Birdies for the Brave, which assumes the collegiate funding for the children of Special Operations personnel killed in training or combat missions (and he makes a contribution approximately every four holes he plays); he donates the same for a fund called Home for Our Troops, which creates accessible wheelchair spaces for injured troops; and regularly supports the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
So I am not overly critical of him for not playing in the fall. Hes gone to the starting gate 19 times this year, and while that is certainly not very much when it comes to PGA Tour players, that is far above the necessary 15. He plays extensively in California ' his home ' in the winter months, teeing it up in seven of eight weeks. I like the West Coast, he says. I grew up on the West Coast, I want to play those tournaments.
I think that you have to find as a player what works best for you in preparation, what works best for you in scheduling. I understand that I will and I have received criticism and will continue to receive criticism over my scheduling, over the way I prepare.
The fault, should anyone be blamed, is for the tour itself, not Mickelson. I firmly believe in having a rule that states every player must play each tournament say, once every five years. But it doesnt. And as of now, Mickelson is doing exactly what he is allowed to do, busy being a pro golfer, a pitchman for his sponsors ' and a devoted husband and father.
Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.
Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.
Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.
Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.
Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.
Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.
Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.
Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.
Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.
Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.