Mickelson Firing on All Cylinders

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 4, 2002, 5:00 pm
Phil Mickelson wanted one last start to fine-tune his game before he attempts to break his major jinx at Augusta National. And he seems to have everything in working order.
Mickelson shot 7-under-par 65 to finish one shot behind Steve Elkington after 18 holes of the BellSouth Classic near Atlanta.
'It's a tournament we're all trying to gear up for,' Mickelson said about the Masters. 'I'm just working hard on my game here. I think that's the best way to prepare for next week.'
Thomas Bjorn, Frank Nobilo, Dudley Hart, Ian Leggatt, Jesper Parnevik and John Rollins are all two back after shooting 66s.
Elkington, winless on the tour since the 1999 Genuity Championship, didnt post a par until his eighth hole at the TPC at Sugarloaf Thursday. He birdied the first two holes, but gave both shots back with a double-bogey-6 at the third. He then reeled off four straight birdies, and added another at the ninth.
The 1995 PGA champion tallied 10 birdies on the day to more than offset his lone hiccup.
Mickelson has won twice as many times on tour (20 to 10) as Elkington. However, the Aussie has one thing Lefty doesnt ' a major championship.
He's come under fire recently for his aggressive nature. But his play produced seven birdies and nary a bogey Thursday.
Bjorn is trying to do what hasnt been done on the PGA Tour since 1998. Over the past four seasons, Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal and Parnevik have entered the Stateside winners circle, though they were PGA Tour members at the times of their victories. Others, such as Retief Goosen and Paul Lawrie, won major championships.
But not since Lee Westwood in 1998 has a full-time European Tour player won a regular PGA Tour event. The Englishman captured the Compaq Classic that season. Coincidentally, he did so the week prior to the Masters Tournament.
Thursday, Bjorn made six birdies and no bogeys in tying his career best round in the U.S. The Danes best tour finish came in a tie for second in Tiger Woods runaway victory in the 2000 British Open. He is best known, however, as the conqueror of the world's No. 1 player in last years Dubai Desert Classic.
While Bjorn is seeking his first PGA Tour victory, Nobilo and Hart are trying to regain entry into the winners circle.
Nobilo was on the fast track to stardom before his train derailed following his 1997 Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic triumph.
The Kiwi slipped to 108th on the money list in 1998, and fell outside the top 150 in both 99 and 2000. Last year, he managed to avoid Q-School by once again ending the season No. 108 in earnings.
Harts descent hasnt been as drastic, though the same cant be said about his personal life.
The 33-year-old and his wife, Suzanne, had triplets in December. Since the additions, Hart has yet to record a top-25 finish. His last victory on tour came in the 2000 Honda Classic. He has, however, finished inside the top 60 on the money list each of the past six seasons.
This is the final tune-up before the seasons first major. Several top-ranked players are in the field. Defending champion Scott McCarron opened in 5-under 67. Goosen shot 68. Last weeks winner, Vijay Singh, bogeyed his final two hole to shoot 69. Colin Montgomerie, playing in his third consecutive tour event, also carded a 69.
Davis Love III has the roller-coaster round of the day. He went out in 42 and came home in 30 for an even-par 72.
Full-field scores from the BellSouth Classic
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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.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

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

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.