Mickelson trying to peak for Masters

By Jason SobelMarch 30, 2013, 7:23 pm

HUMBLE, Texas – Phil Mickelson is going to try to steal a page from Jack Nicklaus. He doesn’t want to, really, but circumstances have forced his hand.

He’s not happy about it, not happy about the entire situation. For the last two weeks, Mickelson has told anyone armed with a microphone or tape recorder or notepad willing to listen. It’s just not quite clear at whom he’s directing his anger.

For the first time since 2007 and just the second time in 15 years, Mickelson won’t play the tournament directly preceding the Masters. Like the view of many people in fractured relationships, he’s adopted the attitude of, “It’s not me, it’s you.”

That’s because in the past, that pre-Masters tournament was always the old BellSouth Classic at TPC Sugarloaf, just a few hours down the road from Augusta National, which also featured tree-lined fairways and bentgrass greens. Mickelson liked that setup so much that he once won by 13 strokes, then doubled-down to win a green jacket the next week.

In recent years, it’s been the Shell Houston Open, held on a massive, right-to-left swinging ballpark at Redstone Golf Club, with similar chipping areas to Augusta and green speeds that are at least in the same zip code. It may not be the real McCoy, but it’s close enough that plenty of elite players use this as a final tune-up before the year’s first major.

Shell Houston Open: Articles, videos and photos

Video: Round 3 highlights from Houston

This year, though, because of the way the calendar fell, with 14 weeks instead of the usual 13 prior to the Masters, there’s an extra tournament in there. So rather than have a preparatory event beforehand, Mickelson chose to eschew the Valero Texas Open, where the TPC San Antonio host venue shouldn’t have much in common with conditions at Augusta.

All of which leads circuitously back to Nicklaus.

On Saturday, after firing a third-round 5-under 67 to climb the leaderboard in Houston, Mickelson was speaking about how his game is peaking at the right time when he was asked whether – with an extra week in between the tournaments this year – playing so well was coming too soon.

“Nicklaus used to try to peak over the week before and over the weekend and then take a couple days off Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of the tournaments and try to build back into the tournament at Augusta,” Mickelson explained. “I'll have to take a page out of his book because I'm not used to taking a week off before a major. It's not my preference. But I'll try to do what I did where I'll try to peak a little bit early and try to back off and build into the tournament again.”

It’s a strategy he first spoke about with the six-time Masters champion early in his career.

“Years ago, when I first turned pro,” he said. “When I first turned pro, 20 years ago, I asked him about some of the stuff, and I still remember. I wrote some of it down.”

If Mickelson had his choice, he may wish for the Masters to start right this very minute.

One day after maintaining his game was close to where he wants it to be, he opened with a birdie, closed with another and sandwiched five more in between, while posting one of the better scores of the day. He hit more fairways than he did in either of the first two rounds and needed fewer putts. Considering his driver (or 3-wood) and putter will be the most important clubs in the bag at Augusta, this should come as welcome news in Camp Mickelson.

“Each day, the game has gotten a little bit better, and today is where it really started to feel good, where I was able to react,” he explained. “When I'm playing my best, golf becomes kind of a reactionary sport where I'm looking at the target, I see the shot and just swing.

“The first couple of days – the first day especially – I was more conscious about golf swing, about mechanics and whatnot, trying to get things right. Today, I was able to get out of that mode and just start reacting, starting to see the shot, and the game feels a lot better, which is why I'm excited about [Sunday].”

He’s also excited about getting to Augusta National. Mickelson will head there late next week, just “relaxing and getting ready.” It’s a different preparation than he’s accustomed to before the Masters – and he’s still not happy about that.

If he can bottle some of Nicklaus’ advice, though, and hit his peak during that week and not prior to it, Mickelson may just wind up finding his fair share of happiness Sunday evening in Augusta.

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.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: