Mickelson 'nervous,' but optimistic about 2016 season

By Will GrayJanuary 13, 2016, 1:42 pm

Amateurs and hackers alike, take note: even the best in the game get nervous.

Phil Mickelson failed to win last year on Tour, and he did not advance to the Tour Championship for the second straight season. As he looks to make his first start since the Presidents Cup at next week's CareerBuilder Challenge, the 45-year-old admitted that there are still some butterflies to battle heading into his season debut.

"My last two years have been disappointing to me, and I want to make this upcoming year one of the best years possible," Mickelson said Wednesday on "Morning Drive." "I'm optimistic, but I'm also nervous because it's been a little while since I've played to the level I expect to."

There is a lot to focus on this year. In addition to the Masters at it's normal Augusta National grounds, the U.S. Open will take place at Oakmont Country Club, the Open Championship at Royal Troon and the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club, where Mickelson won in 2005. Also part of a crowded scheduled are the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National and golf's return to the Olympics in Rio.

Mickelson hasn't won since the 2013 Open Championship, and that drought in part led him to make a coaching change last fall. Lefty split with longtime instructor Butch Harmon, instead tabbing Australian instructor Andrew Getson as the man to help get him back on track. Based on Mickelson's comments, one area of off-season focus is clearly evident.



"When I analyze it and look objectively, my swing plane has not been what I need it to be," he said. "I've been having to save so many shots at impact with my hands, and if I can get my swing back on plane, and have very little adjustments at impact, then my feel, and my touch, and my shot-making ability will hopefully come back."

Another area that has received attention from Mickelson in recent months has been the stat sheet, and specifically par-4 scoring. He finished 114th on Tour last season in that category, a significant decline after finishing 24th in par-4 scoring in 2014 and 27th in 2013. He noted that par-4 birdie percentage is a statistic that "means the most" to him when evaluating his overall play.

"It's telling me that I'm getting the ball in play, or close enough to the green to where I can make birdies," he said. "So leading in par-4 birdies is I think one of the most important statistics, because we also have so many of them throughout a round, and that has been not the strength that it usually is in my career."

After his appearance in Palm Springs, Mickelson's West Coast swing is also slated to include stops at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in upcoming weeks. Despite the early-season jitters, he remains optimistic that a new year and a new instructor will mark a turnaround in his performance.

"I'm hopeful that this off-season, the work I've put in, will get my swing back on the plane that it has been in the past," he said, "and allow me to hit the shots I've been able to hit as I did in the past."

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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.

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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

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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.”

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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.