Phil winning in return to Pinehurst would be fit for Hollywood

By Jason SobelJune 10, 2014, 8:59 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – You can easily see a screenwriter walking into the office of a major Hollywood producer and pitching this big idea …

“So there are these two superstar golfers – one is a veteran, a family man, a practical joker who’s almost universally beloved; the other is younger, on the verge of becoming a father for the first time, still trying to win the big one. You with me so far?

“OK, so these two guys are paired together in one of the year’s biggest tournaments. It’s back-and-forth all day. More dramatic with each hole. Finally, at the end, the veteran makes an improbable putt on the last hole to win! But instead of running off to celebrate, he grabs the younger guy by the cheeks and tells him that he’s going to love being a father! I mean, how amazing is that?

“The very next day, his first child is born. Happy ending, right? Wrong. Four months later, tragedy strikes. The veteran player dies in a plane crash. Incredibly sad. The entire golf community mourns, including the guy who lost to him that day.

“Well, fast forward 15 years. That younger player isn’t so young anymore. He’s almost the exact same age as the veteran when he died. He now has three children. He’s also won every big tournament there is – except the one he lost that day. He keeps coming in second place! But now, this time, he’s back at the EXACT SAME COURSE where he lost to the veteran and …”


By comparison, “Tin Cup” seems more plausible than the potential story of Phil Mickelson returning to Pinehurst No. 2 so many years after losing to Payne Stewart and finally claiming that elusive U.S. Open title.

It’s a script layered with so much drama, so many inconceivable plot twists, that a Hollywood producer might decline on the grounds that it just sounds too unrealistic.

And yet, here we are. The entire script has been written, except for the final act.

“To do it right here where Payne and I had this moment,” Mickelson said Tuesday, “where he we talked about fatherhood, but he also talked about winning future U.S. Opens, although I haven't won one yet, I'm still fighting hard and this would be a great place to break through and do it.”

In major championship golf, we’re often lucky if the champion has one major storyline going for him on Sunday evening. Mickelson owns a confluence of them, the likes we’ve rarely – if ever – witnessed packaged together and wrapped in one neat bow, waiting to be ripped open.

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He would vanquish all those U.S. Open close calls of the past – six of them, to be exact, where he finished behind just one other player.

He would triumph at Pinehurst No. 2, the first of those runner-up results, the one that started this chain of painful memories.

He would fulfill the prophecy of Stewart, who told him that day, right on this course, that he would someday win this tournament.

He would become just the sixth player in the game’s history to record a career grand slam, winning each of the four major championships.

With such a combination of delicious narratives, even Mickelson admits that it has been impossible not to allow his mind to wander and think about what it would be like to win the U.S. Open this week.

“I try not to,” he said, “because I don't want to get ahead of myself. But it's only natural that it's going to. Occasionally I'll catch myself, but I really try not to, because I really just want to focus on what I need to do to get ready for Thursday. If I can do that, hopefully I'll give myself a chance on the weekend. But when I jump ahead, that never really works out good, at least in the past.”


“… and this time things are different! This time, he goes out there and …”

“Let me guess,” interrupts the Hollywood producer, in between prolonged puffs on a Cohiba. “He wins the tournament, thanks the veteran player in memorium, then skips off into the sunset and lives happily ever after. The end.”

“Well, yeah,” the screenwriter answers. “I mean, isn’t that what everyone wants to see?”

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry