Mickelson wins Phoenix Open wire to wire

By Jason SobelFebruary 4, 2013, 12:04 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Because a win can’t just be a win, because it must be put into context and scrutinized and analyzed, it’s not enough to simply state that Phil Mickelson’s torrid play at the Waste Management Phoenix Open gave him a 41st career title and nearly set PGA Tour scoring records. No, we must instantly rate it and rank it and give it an official placement before the ink even dries on the oversized check.

And so we search for superlatives, ways to interpret the triumph. This is a trial-and-error process. Before we can declare what this win was, we must first determine what it wasn’t.

This wasn’t the most important victory of Mickelson’s career. That will forever be the 2004 Masters, when he earned his first major title in dramatic final-hole fashion.

This wasn’t the most convincing victory of Mickelson’s career. That would be the 2006 BellSouth Classic, when he bested the next closest competitor by 13 strokes.

Waste Management Phoenix Open: Articles, videos and photos

This wasn’t the most unexpected victory of Mickelson’s career. That would be the 1991 Northern Telecom Open, when at age 20 he became the sixth amateur ever to win a PGA Tour event.

So what was this victory, exactly? How should we scrutinize and analyze, rate and rank a wire-to-wire title that was never seriously in doubt?

“I don’t know,” Mickelson said after pondering those questions.

Turns out, there’s only one superlative to perfectly describe it.

This was the most Mickelson victory of Mickelson’s career.

That’s because his career has been a series of ups and downs, unseen twists and turns that fly in the face of consistency. And this victory epitomizes that image.

Exactly two weeks ago, Mickelson had just finished off a share of 51st place at the Humana Challenge when his chat with a few scribes turned to personal politics. The 42-year-old California resident contended that he may need to make “drastic changes” because of the state’s new tax laws, which could include moving his family elsewhere.

Three days later, he was apologizing for foot-in-mouth syndrome, telling the world that going public with his original comments was a “dumb, dumb mistake.” Self-effacing to a fault, it recalled his reaction to the 2006 U.S. Open loss, when he famously maintained, “I’m such an idiot.”

He followed that penance by finishing T-37 at the Farmers Insurance Open. While his scores didn’t reflect it, Mickelson believed he was close to yet again seriously contending for a title.

Even so, turning things around so quickly would have been far-fetched for most other players, but just par for the course for Mickelson. This is a player for whom the phrase “expect the unexpected” isn’t just a mantra; it’s a marketing campaign. They don’t ask the question, “What will Phil do next?” because he plays steady golf and finishes in seventh place every week.

This week, the game’s most unsinkable player posted scores of 60-65-64-67 to win by four strokes and claim his third career title at this tournament. As if the entire week itself wasn’t enough of a microcosm for his career, the penultimate hole in particular served perfectly in this role.

On the drivable par-4 17th hole Sunday afternoon, Mickelson pushed his tee shot to left, just inches from finding the water hazard. Rather than creating disaster, he chipped to 13 feet and converted the birdie putt – a magic act that fully suited his image.

There were others, too, throughout the week. The final putt on Thursday afternoon for the sixth 59 in PGA Tour history that looked good the entire way, but horseshoed out. The near-ace at the famous 16th hole on Saturday that drew raucous applause. The seventh-hole birdie putt on Sunday that went through the fringe with 20 feet of break and somehow found its intended target.

Say this for the man: He’s never boring.

On this occasion, in this win, he understands how his usual buoyancy benefited the end result.

“It's an important one for me, because it's been awhile since I won, been awhile since I've been in contention,” said Mickelson, who won for the first time in 51 weeks. “I was certainly nervous heading into today's final round. I think the thing I'm most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn't care for and come back and hit a number of good shots on the back nine to do what I needed to do to win.”

It would be too flippant to analogize this win in Phoenix to a phoenix rising from the ashes, especially because we’ve learned to expect the unexpected from him. The sentiment remains, though. This wasn’t the most important or most convincing or most unexpected victory of his career, but it was the most Mickelson, symbolizing everything we’ve come to know about his resiliency.

Getty Images

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

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

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

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.