Mickelson Not Making Excuses

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 15, 2003, 4:00 pm
SANDWICH, England (AP) -- Phil Mickelson was chatting outside the clubhouse at Royal St. George's, speculating on who has the best chance to win the British Open.
'It's an opportunity for the top players, if they're playing their best, to really shine,' he said. 'It's easier for the top players to win a major. They can separate themselves, much more so than the other guys.'
Then, abruptly, Mickelson cut short his dissertation.
'Of course, I've never won one,' he said, suddenly remembering the biggest blemish of his career. 'I'm not quite sure what my point was.'
Actually, Mickelson made it through an entire news conference Monday without being asked the same ol' question. That wasn't necessarily a good thing.
It's been more than a year since Lefty won his last tournament, and he's never played that well in the British Open. No wonder the subject of 'Best Player Never To Win a Major' didn't come up.
Instead, the queries went something like this:
How's the course? Why has it been 20 years since the British had a repeat champion? Any thoughts on Tiger Woods going four straight majors without a victory?
Oh, by the way Phil, does your house have air conditioning for these unseasonable English temperatures? (No.) And, if you don't mind, how do you think this warm weather will affect the tournament?
'The density altitude is much higher when it's hotter, so the ball seems to go through the air a little better,' Mickelson replied, mimicking a physics professor. (Translation: the ball goes farther.)
Only later, when Mickelson met informally with a small group of reporters, did someone finally mention the lack of a major title among his 21 PGA Tour victories.
Mickelson arrived at Sandwich a disappointing 31st on the season money list, which wouldn't even be good enough to earn a spot in the season-ending Tour Championship.
The statistic is particularly striking for a guy who's been runner-up on the earnings list four years in a row - and no lower than 28th since he turned pro a decade ago. His more recent victory came at the Greater Hartford Open in June 2002.
Mickelson has won at least two events in seven of his 10 years on tour, but an errant performance off the tee pushed him into a bit of a slump. Since a third-place showing at the Masters, he hasn't finished higher than a tie for 13th in seven events.
'No excuses,' Mickelson said. 'I just haven't played well.'
As usual, the left-hander is one of the game's longest hitters, ranking fourth in driving distance with a 304-yard average. Unfortunately, he rarely knows where the ball is going, hitting the fairway barely half the time to place 189th in driving accuracy.
In an effort to correct his problems, Mickelson spent some time recently with swing coach Rick Smith. If history is any indication, the results won't be evident this week.
Mickelson has been a top-10 finisher in the majors a staggering 17 times, but none of those have come at the British Open. His best showing was a tie for 11th in 2000; last year, he tied for 66th at Muirfield.
In links golf, it's more important to shape shots off the tee, setting up the best angle to the green, rather than just hit it farther than everyone else. Also, while Mickelson is one of the tour's most creative shotmakers, the tightly shaved courses on this side of Atlantic don't allow his to spin the ball like he does back home.
'The game in the States is played in the air,' Mickelson said. 'In Europe, it's played on the ground for the most part. When you only do it for one or two weeks, it's difficult to adapt. That's my feeling, but that's an excuse I won't accept.'
Besides, it's not like Americans haven't done well at the British Open. Six of the last eight winners have been U.S. players, including David Duval in 2001, removing himself from consideration for best player never to win a major.
Mickelson refuses to concede that his game isn't cut out for Britain's historic courses.
'It's the same-size hole. It's the same thought process. It's the same golf shots. It's the same creativity you need to play well,' he said. 'I just need to play better.'
Maybe technology will lend a helping hand. Mickelson said improvements in clubs and balls make it easier to hit the sort of low shots required on a links layout without having to make a major swing adjustment.
Still, he's not given much of a chance to win his first major this week. Mickelson is a 35-1 choice of the oddsmakers, compared to 5-2 favorite Woods.
'I'm starting to strike it much better,' Mickelson said, trying to sound hopeful. 'I haven't put it together for four good rounds, but I'm hitting a lot more good shots.'
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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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    Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

    The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

    They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

    It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

    “I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

    The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.