Masters outlook clouds further with Mickelson injury

By Jason SobelMarch 29, 2014, 9:49 pm

It's often been said of the Masters champion that he is simply the last man standing after four grueling rounds. In the case of next month's edition of the event, that might become a literal translation.

On Saturday at the Valero Texas Open, three-time green jacket winner Phil Mickelson joined a list of elite players who have withdrawn from tournaments in the past month. All of which should leave the Thursday morning ticker before the opening round looking like that of an NFL Sunday.

QUESTIONABLE: Tiger Woods (back); Jason Day (thumb); PROBABLE: Phil Mickelson (oblique); Hunter Mahan (back); WILL PLAY: Bubba Watson (allergies).

That's a veritable training-table all-star team. More important, it represents a group of potential Masters contenders who will enter the year's first major championship in various forms of pain or discomfort.

How much pain or discomfort is, of course, subject to change and will vary amongst these players, but in most cases such withdrawals are preemptive measures of caution. Each has been criticized to some extent for failing to give it the ol’ college try at the Honda Classic or Arnold Palmer Invitational or Valero Texas Open, but all will not only be forgiven by the outside world should any of these players find success at Augusta; they’ll also realize the cautious move was the right move.

Mickelson WDs with muscle pull

That’s not to condone all WDs, but it does suggest we should at least trust that these players’ hearts are in the right place. Anyone who claims they know a professional athlete’s body better than the professional athlete himself should probably use those powers to a greater benefit than denigrating one who felt it wasn’t in his best interests to continue.

The truth is, in most – if not all – of these listed cases, these players could have continued if the tournament in question were the Masters. Just like most NFL players would give it a little extra effort for the Super Bowl.

For those who have ever touted the marathon-not-a-sprint cliché, this strategy should ring true.

Based on the number of big names who are currently hurting, next month’s Masters title might go to the last player remaining who can lift both arms into the green jacket.

Then again, keep in mind one of the game’s oldest axioms: Beware the injured golfer.

If one of them can parlay a recent withdrawal into a major victory, he will not only receive the accolades that come with such a win. He’ll also gain the satisfaction of knowing the cautious move was the right move.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.

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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Woods happy to help Furyk at Ryder Cup

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:58 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods didn't hesitate when Jim Furyk asked him to become a vice captain at the upcoming Ryder Cup.

Woods said Wednesday that Furyk asked he and Steve Stricker “a while ago” whether they were interested in being assistants in Paris as the Americans try to win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Woods said of Furyk, “and whatever he wants, whatever he needs, I’m there to help him. We’re worked well the last couple of years in the cups together.”

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Though Woods has said that he wants to be a playing vice captain, he has been an assistant at each of the past two international team competitions.

Furyk, Woods and Stricker were all assistants at Hazeltine, where the U.S. won in a rout.

“Jim is very detailed, very smart, very analytical, and he’s just a fantastic leader,” Woods said. “For him to ask Stricks and I together, it will be special for both of us.”

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Woods to hit '4 or 5' drivers each day at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:25 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Those hoping Tiger Woods will wield the driver early and often this week at PGA National likely will be disappointed.

Depending on wind direction, he said he will only hit “four or five” drivers each round.

During Wednesday’s pro-am, Woods hit driver on six holes. He found two fairways with the big stick and found the right rough four times, though a few of those misses were only a few yards off the fairway.

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In two starts this year, Woods has struggled mightily with every club off the tee, but driver has been especially troublesome. He has found only 36 percent of the fairways so far (30 of 84).

The Champion Course here is a par 70, with water and bunkers often lining the fairways. Putting the ball in play off the tee will be at a premium, and so Woods opted for a low, penetrating 2-iron six times in the pro-am.

Woods said he did not make any equipment changes following the missed cut at Riviera.