Mickelson, Augusta National the perfect match

By Jason SobelMarch 30, 2012, 1:30 pm

Professional golfers are asked to opine on host venues every week, producing rhetoric which ranges from blunt honesty to verbiage culled directly from a public relations manual section on how to say something without saying anything at all.

What these viewpoints lack in originality, they often make up for in description and speculation.

You’ve got to keep it in the fairway on this course. If the wind blows, this place is going to play really tough. These greens are so difficult if you leave yourself in the wrong place.

You get the idea – and you’ve undoubtedly endured such responses during the pre-tournament coverage of any upcoming event.

Every so often, though, there’s a comment so telling, so astute, so discerning, that it paints a picture, explaining how and why certain results have occurred in the past, and how and why they may occur again in the future.

The following quote easily falls within the slim boundaries of this category:

“You don't have to be perfect there. You can make mistakes. You can make some loose swings and still have a shot to get close to the green and let [your] short game make par. And so I feel very relaxed that I can play that golf course with a far less than perfect swing.”

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, those words were proffered by Phil Mickelson as part of his examination into Augusta National Golf Club. They serve to explain why the love affair between the two parties has always been mutual.

It’s no secret that the three-time Masters champion is the consummate risk-reward golfer. He’ll never be confused for the most accurate ball-striker in the world, but he’s a shot-maker of the highest order. His uncanny ability to hook an improbable 3-wood around a sturdy tree or elevate a wedge over an obstacle and coerce the ball to parachute its way next to the hole is an art form few in the game have ever possessed.

No shot during his illustrious career more appropriately defines this talent than his second shot into the par-5 13th hole in the 2010 edition of the event.

Faced with a small sliver of a window between two pines, Mickelson elected to make the risky selection – 187 yards over the creek to the front of the green; 207 to the hole – rather than playing it safe and keeping his lead intact. The rest is history. The ball hopped onto the putting surface, stopping 4 feet from the hole and while he missed the ensuing eagle attempt, it was easily the most memorable moment of that week’s triumph, if not his entire life.

It was quintessential Lefty, but it was also quintessential Augusta National.

Not that sublime driving accuracy nor brilliant putting on its slick greens won’t enhance a player’s performance, but at the heart of the famed venue, it is a second-shot golf course. By nature, some of the game’s most legendary shot-makers have enjoyed success here, each generation showcasing a headstrong daredevil, from Sam Snead to Arnold Palmer to Seve Ballesteros.

Mickelson is, of course, this generation’s greatest gambler – in figurative terms, at least. And so it should come as no coincidence that his style of play fits the style best suited for the year’s first major championship.

In 19 career Masters appearances, he has missed the cut on just one occasion, and that came back in 1997. Total them up and he not only owns those three green jackets, but four third-place finishes and 13 top-10 results – ranking seventh all-time in that category, behind a very small gaggle of fellow Hall of Fame inductees.

It is for all of these reasons that when Mickelson makes the famous turn off Washington Road, he’s never bristled at the enormity of the undertaking, but rather exudes confidence, brimming with the knowledge that he has played his best golf on this venerable track.

“When I drive down Magnolia Lane,” he explains, “I just have this ease going to Augusta.”

This is a course that unmistakably suits Phil Mickelson’s game, but more importantly, Mickelson owns a game that forever suits this course.

Call it a perfect match.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.