Mickelson Derailed in Round 1

By Jay CoffinJune 18, 2010, 3:08 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Phil Mickelson is golf’s ultimate roller coaster. For better or worse, he’s always spectacular, especially in major championships. With nearly every round there are ups, downs and everything in between.

Think of this year’s Masters when he smashed a 6-iron off the pine straw from 207 yards on the 13th hole to setup an eagle try that ultimately ended in a crucial birdie. Think 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot where Mickelson’s gambling, go-for-broke style down the stretch cost him a shot at winning his third consecutive major.

That’s what’s so perplexing about Mickelson’s opening round here at the 110th U.S. Open. It included none of the above. In fact, the most exciting thing to happen during Mickelson’s round didn’t even happen to him or playing partners Padraig Harrington and Y.E. Yang.

Phil Mickelson 1st round 2010 U.S. Open
Phil Mickelson failed to make a birdie in the first round. (Getty Images)
That’s right. For the first time in recent memory, Mickelson failed to produce a spectacular moment in shooting a 4-over 75. The man who wins or loses major championships by pulling off shots no one else will attempt, the man who is favored to win this week and could ascend to the No. 1 ranking with a victory, opened with a big thud here at historic Pebble Beach.

Mickelson, who turned 40 on Wednesday, began on the 10th hole and made six pars before making bogey on Nos. 16, 17 and 18. Lefty played cautiously off the tee on No. 16 but his drive was inches from finding the fairway bunker and his awkward, sidehill position forced him to hit out sideways and back into the fairway. On the picturesque par-3 17th, his tee shot found water left and he got up and down for a bogey 4. Then on the closing hole he tried to reach the green in two shots from 252 yards, but started the ball left of the green and it never hooked. The result was another water ball and a third consecutive bogey.

The final hiccup came on the fourth hole when, again, Mickelson was being cautious off the tee. Still, he found a bunker, then hit his second shot into another bunker and failed to get up and down.

Overall, Mickelson missed six putts from 10 feet or less, five of which were birdie looks. The score was the second-highest opening round for Mickelson at the U.S. Open since 1997 when he opened with 75 at Congressional. It was the first time Mickelson failed to make a birdie in a round since the first round of the Shell Houston open last year, a span of 24 events and 95 rounds.

“I usually find a way to make some birdies,” Mickelson said with his trademark sheepish grin. “But I had my opportunities. I mean I had a number of chances. There were a number of birdie holes out there and I had my opportunities, I just didn't make the putt.”

Mickelson shot the worst round of his group. Yang was 4 over at one point but scrambled to shoot 73. Harrington had difficulty finding fairways all afternoon but made two late birdies to salvage his round and shoot 73.

“I felt like scoring should’ve been a lot better,” Harrington said. “The greens weren’t firm, they were quite receptive. But I had to work. Scoring would be better if this wasn’t called the U.S. Open.”

The most interesting moment of the day came on No. 16 when Harrington was behind the green standing over a chip shot. Moments before he was to hit the shot a golf ball came flying from over the right grandstands, took a hard bounce out of the rough and onto the green, ending 6 feet from the hole. The ball came from 23-year-old, U.S. Open rookie Jon Curran, who blew his drive well left off the third tee. Curran took a drop off the front of the 16th green, hit his approach to the left fringe and got down in two shots for par.

There was a Phil moment waiting to happen on the third hole but it never developed. Mickelson blew his tee shot well left and, although it was several feet from a nasty hazard and behind a grandstand on the 17th tee, he still had an angle at the green with a wedge in his hand.

The vibe in the gallery was exciting. Collectively you could tell that people were expecting Lefty to make a birdie from the junk and get his round ignited. He delivered on the first part when he stuck his wedge shot to 10 feet as applause erupted. But, as was the case all day, the short stick cost him and he missed the birdie attempt.

“Obviously I didn't score well, but I thought I played pretty well, other than putting,” Mickelson said. “I just putted horrific. It's very frustrating for me to miss all those opportunities. I don't mind making a bad swing here, there, making a bogey here, there, it's part of the U.S. Open.

“It's just I've got to make birdies. It just was very frustrating for me.”

On a day with near perfect conditions, Mickelson was mostly conservative, hitting driver off the tee only five times on a course that isn’t long by today’s standards. But, since the round did not result in a good score you have to wonder if Lefty’s aggressive nature will get the best of him at some point. If playing conservatively didn’t work, perhaps playing more aggressively will.

“It's just frustrating because I came in here prepared,” Mickelson said. “I came in here ready. I hit a lot of good shots today. I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities and putted terrible.”

Bad news is he shot 75, good news is that he didn’t shoot himself out of the championship. For at least one round in this U.S. Open, however, the roller coaster that is Phil Mickelson was derailed.


Getty Images

Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

Getty Images

Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

Getty Images

Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

Getty Images

Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.