Phil putting lights out despite damaged greens

By Jason SobelMay 3, 2013, 10:47 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Phil Mickelson stepped to the 16th tee during his Wednesday pro-am at the Wells Fargo Championship and noticed a few familiar faces. He exchanged quick pleasantries, but it was only seconds before he excitedly started extolling the virtues of his new and improved Phrankenwood driver, an updated version of the one he first used three weeks ago at the Masters. Let’s call it Son of Phrankenwood.

Big smile plastered across his face, the left-hander went into full infomercial mode. He talked about how he’s hitting it longer than any driver before. He talked about how he’s gotten rid of the little leak to the left that he had with the previous edition. He even talked right through his swing, as before his ball found the center of the fairway, he boasted, “Like a dream!”

As it turns out, Mickelson was perfectly right to show a little swagger when talking about one of his clubs. He just picked the wrong one.

Through two rounds here at Quail Hollow Club, Mickelson’s scores of 68-67 have afforded him a two-stroke lead, but Son of Phrankenwood can’t take much of the credit, as he’s found only 11 of 28 fairways so far.

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Instead, it’s his unnamed putter that is carrying the load.

How proficient has he been with the flat stick? The numbers are eye-popping. Mickelson is 31 for 31 on putts inside 10 feet. He leads the tournament in putting average, one-putt percentage and total putts. And it’s all the more impressive on patchy greens that look borrowed from the nearest muni.

Not that it’s bothering him at all.

“I think that the greens are putting very, very good, obviously, because I've putted them well,” Mickelson said with his famous Cheshire cat grin, fully aware of player complaints about the putting surfaces. “But with them being slower, we're able to putt them aggressively. We're able to take some of the break out without fear of racing it way by. And I've made a concerted effort to leave uphill putts, which has allowed me to putt even more aggressive and play even less break, and that's made a big difference in my putting.”

Perhaps he owns the right strategy to attack these greens. Or maybe he simply has the right attitude. Whatever the case, his putting exhibition wasn’t lost on his playing partners over the opening two rounds.

“He’s made some nice putts,” Rickie Fowler said. “When he happens to miss the green, he gets it up and down or finds a way to get out of trouble. He’s pretty good at scrambling. He’s staying away from bogeys and he’s making those putts.”

“Yesterday he probably used a little of his Phil magic on a couple shots, but today was really clean,” added Nick Watney. “He'll be tough on the weekend.”

Ask any player, after any round, whether their score could have been a few strokes better – whether they “left a few out there” – and the answer is almost universally affirmative. It should serve as a testament to Mickelson’s putting that following his second-round 67 he concluded that it was the best possible score he could have posted.

“Honestly, not really, no,” he determined. “I mean, I made a lot of putts that they weren't gimmes. They were 15 feet. I made a long one on 9. I got a lot out of the round today. I have to drive it better to be more aggressive to shoot lower this weekend, because I'm getting as much out of the round as I can.”

Just 48 hours removed from speaking glowingly about his “dream” of a driver, Mickelson hasn’t lost any confidence in the club despite its failure to live up to expectations.

In fact, after the second round he almost sounded more confident in his overall game, knowing that if Son of Phrankenwood returns and he continues putting like this, it could be a lethal combination.

“Before I came here, I was driving the ball phenomenal. I really am excited about the way I've been hitting it off the tee and I'm looking forward to this weekend,” Mickelson explained. “I think if I drive it well this weekend, it's going to be a fun weekend.”

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.