Mickelson plans to skip U.S. Open for graduation

By Nick MentaJune 3, 2017, 7:47 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Phil Mickelson intends to skip the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin in order to attend his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation in California.

Mickelson first informed The New York Times of his decision before teeing off in the third round of the Memorial on Saturday. After closing out an even-par 72, he confirmed that decision.

The five-time major winner has finished runner-up at the year's second major a record six times. The U.S. Open is the lone major keeping the soon-to-be 47-year-old from the career Grand Slam.

"I mean obviously it's the tournament I want to win the most," he said. "But this is one of those moments where you look back on life and you just don't want to miss it. I'll be really glad that I was there and present."

Amanda, who will attend Brown University in the fall, is the class president and commencement speaker. She is the oldest of the three Mickelson children. The Pacific Ridge School graduation is scheduled for 10 a.m. PT on Thursday, June 15, square in the middle of the Open's first round. 

"So there's really just no way to make it, no matter what the tee time is," Mickelson said.

It is important to note that Mickelson has not officially withdrawn. He has up until his tee time to actually do so. As such, he intends to wait in order to allow himself the opportunity to play should some “unforeseen circumstance,” like a first-round weather washout, allow him to make it from California to Wisconsin in time. 


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Mickelson chose to inform USGA executive director Mike Davis of his situation "a couple days ago" so that an alternate can properly prepare for the event and the USGA can plan its first- and second-round groupings accordingly.

“We applaud and appreciate the fact that he is being pro-active so that the USGA can make any appropriate adjustments should he not be able to play,” Davis said in a statement. “We certainly understand and support that Phil’s family commitments are of paramount importance and hope that the timing will work in his favor.”

Mickelson first missed out on the U.S. Open title in 1999 when he was bested by Payne Stewart on the final green at Pinehurst. With his wife Amy set to give birth, Mickelson decided to play the final round knowing he might need to withdraw. After Stewart holed his par putt to win, he went over to Mickelson, put his hands on his face and told him, “You’re going to be a father.”

"I go back and every year at the U.S. Open, I think about that '99 Open," Mickelson said Saturday. "The birth of your child, any child, but especially your first child, is the most emotional event you can ever experience and share together with your wife.

"And I always think about that at the U.S. Open. I think about Payne Stewart, and I can't believe how quickly time has gone by. Here she is, turing 18 and moving off to college and I'm so proud of her. She's a very special person. I'm excited to see what she has to say at her commencement."

Mickelson first became aware of the potential conflict six months ago and hoped that "maybe something will change, maybe something will change, but nothing is really changing. So here we are." At no point, Mickelson said, did he contemplate missing the ceremony or asking the school to reschedule.  

Mickelson finished second at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in 1999, Bethpage Black in 2002, Shinnecock Hills in 2004, Winged Foot in 2006, Bethpage Black again in 2010 and, most recently, at Merion in 2013.

After coming up short to Justin Rose at Merion, Mickelson rebounded a month later to win the third leg of the career Grand Slam at The Open Championship at Muirfield, but he has not won an event since and remains a U.S. Open victory away from the Grand Slam.

"I'll be able to play the next two years solidly before Sofia gets to graduate, hopefully," he said, prompting laughter. "Hopefully that one won't conflict. Again, you never know. Maybe something freaky will happen. You just never know."

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


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First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.