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."

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.