Injured Lefty still weighing odds of playing WMPO

By Jason SobelJanuary 29, 2014, 12:10 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – High noon under this desert sun on Tuesday showed exactly 25 professional golfers beating balls on the TPC Scottsdale range with varying levels of furiosity, another 10 working on their craft in the short game area, three dozen dutifully rolling putts on the practice green and untold others investigating the potentially tricky nooks and crannies of the golf course.

None of them was named Phil Mickelson, nor were any overly concerned about the whereabouts of one of their most popular brethren.

The defending champion was AWOL on this day and promises to be on Wednesday, too, having already withdrawn from the Waste Management Phoenix Open pro-am.

The excuse does come with a doctor’s note attached. On Friday night, after making the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, Mickelson withdrew because of a lower back injury. In the time since, he flew to Dalton, Ga., to visit with specialist Tom Boers.

Photos: Lefty's goofy looks we love

Waste Management Phoenix Open: Articles, videos and photos

“If it was any other tournament, I’d skip it,” Mickelson said in a released statement, “but I’m defending, it’s my second hometown and I love the event. I’ll have a light practice session and if it goes well I may try to play.”

The first part of that comment might have come affixed with an invisible asterisk to denote major championships as well, but the message remains: This one means a lot to Lefty.

He first played the title sponsor-bereft Phoenix Open as a freshman at nearby Arizona State in 1989, posting scores of 71-76 to miss the cut. Since then, he’s not only endeared himself to the raucous galleries, he’s made a career out of this tourney.

Mickelson has won here three times. He’s amassed more than $3.6 million in total earnings, making him far and away the record-holder. He’s posted 60 here. Twice.

There aren’t many PGA Tour events more closely associated with a single player, but that relationship is in jeopardy of growing this week.

All of which leaves two potential scenarios.

The first sees Mickelson – the consummate riverboat gambler on the course – playing this one conservatively. Having already voiced his goal of winning a long-elusive U.S. Open title this year, he decides to rest up and try to avoid any further damage to that lower back.

The second is intrinsically more enticing. In this scenario, he decides after a Wednesday range session at nearby Whisper Rock that he is indeed healthy enough to give it a go. Either he plays and doesn’t quite fare as well as he’d like or – in an even more palatable plotline – he picks up where he left off with last year’s wire-to-wire victory, battling against the odds to the delight of the galleries.

“I’m itching to play,” he said, “but I have to look at the big picture. I have a number of tournaments I want to play and play well this year, including the majors, so I have to be realistic about how I feel in the short term.” 

It’s a smart play from a guy who’s made a career out of being a risk taker. That won’t stop the fans here in his so-called “second hometown” from rooting for the latter scenario.

A year ago this week, Mickelson gave them plenty to cheer about, opening with a round that came within the edge of the final cup from being a 59, then lofting a tee shot to within inches on the boisterous 16th hole during Saturday’s third round.

But a big week this time would afford a different type of celebration. Everyone loves a comeback story and, around these parts, everyone loves Phil.

Hey, it could happen. But for now, in the days leading up to this year’s edition of the tournament, the game’s consummate gambler is still weighing the odds.


Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.