Phils Cup is Half Empty
When Phil Mickelson won four times last year and so rudely interrupted a couple of Tiger's streaks along the way, it almost seemed like the number one player in the world had a challenger of sorts. 2001, however, has given us reason to doubt. We forgave him this year at Pebble when the 3-wood bounced off the rocks at 18. We were somewhat amused at the Buick Invitational when Phil's double bogey was good enough to beat Frank Lickliter's triple in the playoff. We felt sorry for him at the Masters when what could have been a day of redemption over Tiger turned out to be a night filled with thoughts of simply what could have been. The emotional scar went deep, perhaps deeper than we imagined. His recent performances in New Orleans and at the The Colonial prove that.
In probably three or four of my most recent interviews with Phil dating back to the Byron Nelson more than a week ago, he has emphasized the fact that he's had a lot of opportunities this year, and hasn't cashed in nearly enough. He's not satisfied with just the one win he's garnered, and why should he be? At least three others were practically his before the back nine on Sunday, but something has changed. He doesn't have that same stare that had golf balls searching desperately for the bottom of the hole last year because he is experiencing an extraordinary lack of confidence.
On Saturday at the Colonial, he tried to convince the public that he was more than up to the challenge of winning the tournament. When asked if he felt comfortable being the hunted, he said 'I love being the hunted, bring it on.' At the time it seemed like maybe a new Mickelson was standing in front of us, but after watching Sunday's performance, it seems like the only person that he was trying to convince of his confidence was himself.
After blowing a four-shot lead in Fort Worth, Mickelson finally told the press that he had some issues, mental blocks I believe he called them. I just want to know WHAT has caused them. It's not like he hasn't gone for years without the dubious title of 'best player never to win a major.' That alone can affect your ego in the big ones, but now his despair has reached the 'not quite as big ones' - so to speak - the tournaments where he is almost always the favorite.
Some may speculate that the domination of Tiger Woods has left Phil feeling empty, almost vulnerable, any time that the world's number one player is in the field. Some may feel that his final round fall at the Masters was enough to shake his belief in himself for quite some time to come. Whatever the case, the bigger question is, how will he fix it? When I asked him at the Colonial what steps he would take to eliminate his mental block, he replied simply, 'Get into contention at the Kemper.' He probably will. It'll be interesting to see how he handles it.
One thing Mickelson HAS handled well, though, is the fans and media. After each and every draining Sunday finish, he has stopped to explain himself to the print and television media and he has satisfied nearly all his admirers with autographs regardless of his score. Throughout his tumultuous ride Phil continues to be a classy guy and that, we all know, is hard to do.
When will Phil Mickelson turn it around and regain his confidence? Share your thoughts.
PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes
The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:
The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.
We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.
Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open
JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.
The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.
Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.
''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''
Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 5: Dec. 12
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open
Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.
Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.
Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.
The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.