Mickelson shrugs off another U.S. Open defeat

By Jason SobelJune 16, 2014, 6:00 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – Phil Mickelson walked off Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday afternoon, putter in hand and familiar smile on his face. There was no calling himself an idiot this time. He wasn’t burying his head in his hands or grabbed by the cheeks in consolation by a fellow competitor.

The man who’s endured so many close calls at the U.S. Open – six of 'em, to be exact, where he was defeated by only one other competitor – was never close enough in this one to feel the sting of another mind-numbing loss in the one tournament which has so deftly eluded his grasp throughout the years.

And so following a final-round score of 72 that eventually left him in a share of 28th place, it stood to reason that this was actually a more palatable end result. That finishing 16 shots behind the winner was an easier pill to swallow than succumbing by one measly stroke and forever regretting a single wayward tee shot or balky putt. That losing big is better than losing small.

Mickelson quickly took a lashing 3-iron to that theory.

“It is way worse,” he said of failing to get into serious contention.

You could tell he meant it, too.


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This is a player who thrives on the heat of the battle, who desperately wants an opportunity to win a golf tournament on Sunday afternoon. Especially this one, the one that’s always gotten away.

“There's nothing more exciting than having a chance,” he explained. “There's nothing more exciting than waking up Sunday with a 3:25 tee time and an opportunity to win the U.S. Open, whether you win or lose, because that pressure, that nervous feeling, those butterflies, that energy from the crowd when you make a birdie, the excitement, there's no replacement for that. That's why we play.”

That’s why Mickelson will keep playing, too, every year the U.S. Open will allow him, repeatedly searching for that missing puzzle piece to his career Grand Slam.

He turned 44 on Monday and if his window to win this championship is starting to close even slightly, he isn’t willing to admit it. Publicly, at least, Mickelson is still brimming with optimism. He’s still clinging to the dream that he’s not only going to win once, he’s going to add multiple U.S. Open titles to his resume.

It’s this confidence that allowed him to win his first major at age 34, after so many years of knocking on the proverbial doors. It’s the same confidence that allowed him to win four more, including last year’s Open Championship on the type of course to which he’d never before grown accustomed.

“I believe in the next five years I'm going to have three or four really good chances,” he said. “And I do believe I will get it.”

Of course, there are some forces working against him.

In the history of major championships, only seven players 44 or older have won – and just one of those wins came at the U.S. Open, when Hale Irwin triumphed at the age of 45 in 1990.

Then there’s the list of course venues. Next year’s tournament will be held at Chambers Bay for the first time, a great unknown if there’s ever been one. Same goes for that of 2017, which will be played at Erin Hills. Those will sandwich a return to Oakmont in two years, not a favorite of Mickelson, who injured his wrist hitting out of the dense rough prior to the 2007 edition of the event, then failed to make the cut.

He won’t get a chance to play Shinnecock Hills, where he finished second in 2004, until four years from now. He’ll turn 48 that week – the same age as Julius Boros when he became the oldest major champion in history. Pebble Beach, where he’s won four regular PGA Tour titles, comes one year later, followed by Winged Foot (second place in 2006) and Torrey Pines (where he’s won three times on Tour).

By the time he reaches that latter course, so synonymous with his image, Mickelson will be 51 years old. It’s difficult to believe he’ll be able to contend for this elusive title at that point, but this is a player who’s thrived on proving people wrong throughout his career.

In the aftermath of his 28th-place result at Pinehurst, he could have bellyached about time running out. He could have wallowed in self-pity after so publicly proclaiming that he was putting all of his eggs in this basket, that his entire year was geared toward trying to finally win the U.S. Open.

Instead, he just smiled about a week that never went his way.

“I'm not upset or disappointed,” he said. “I will have more chances.”

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

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Green jacket tour

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Man of the people

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Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm