Lefty Looking to Take Major Stride

By Mercer BaggsAugust 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' Much of the attention at the 87th PGA Championship is focused on Tiger Woods and his pursuit of another three-win major season.
And so it is that just about every one of the other 155 players in the field this week have been asked for their assessments of what Woods has already accomplished ' two wins and a runner-up in three major starts this year, and what might be should he win yet again.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson hopes his game plan will result in winning a second major title.
Lets answer that one a little later, responded Phil Mickelson with a wry smile.
Mickelsons concern this week is not with Woods. Hes well aware that he has no control on how well his rival will play. His concern is solely with himself ' and judging by his performance in the majors this season, there is concern to be had.
A year ago at this time, Mickelson was preparing at Whistling Straits with thoughts of capping his greatest-ever major campaign. Now hes at Baltusrol Golf Club trying to avoid one of his worst.
Mickelson has yet to contend for a major championship this year, having finished 10th at the Masters, tied for 33rd at the U.S. Open and tied for 60th at the Open Championship ' a combined 36 strokes behind the winners.
His results gradually depreciated last year as well; though, they went from a win to a runner-up to a third-place showing to a tie for sixth. In the three majors in which he didnt prevail, he was a combined five strokes removed from those who did.
Mickelson began this year strongly with three PGA Tour victories before the Masters, providing great hope and greater expectations in relation to the major championships.
But not only has he yet to perform up to his elevated standards in the elite events, he hasnt procured a top-5 finish anywhere since the Masters precursor, the BellSouth Classic.
I had a great start to the year, and (felt) like I was playing very well. I just didnt play the best during the summer, he said. But I think that things are turning around and Im looking forward to finishing off the year right.
Its been a great three weeks since the British Open for me. Ive had some great ideas on how to start playing the way I feel I can and know that I can.
While his results in the majors this season may be different from that of 2004, his preparations have yet to change.
Just as he has done since last years Masters ' where ended his 0-for-46 streak in the majors, Mickelson arrived on site at Baltusrol in advance of tournament week.
Mickelson prepped at length on the Lower Course the Sunday and Monday before last weeks International. He then competed in the Colorado event with thoughts of Jersey in the forefront of his mind, using the Jack Nicklaus-designed Castle Pines course as training grounds for Baltusrol.
A Nicklaus course favors a left-to-right shot, and all last week I was hitting right-to-left fades, because thats all Ill hit here. Youll see me hit fade after fade on this course because I want to take the right side out of play on most every hole. So I was trying to hit those exact shots last week that I was going to hit here, he said.
I want to put everything that I have into this one championship.
Having played the 7,396-yard, par-70 Lower Course on multiple occasions, Mickelson knows what it will take to contend this week: I think length could be a factor (given the soft conditions), but I think the most important thing is just to play well and hit the shots.
'Put it in the fairway.'
But its what hes done ' or hasnt been able to do ' in the seasons first three majors that has taught him what he needs to do in order to win this week.
If I look statistically, my putting has been the one area on these quick, fast greens in the majors, that has not been to the same level as last year, so thats something Ive been working on and hopefully have figured it out, he said. The greens here, I feel like I have a pretty good feel on, and they roll so true and perfectly. I feel very confident on them.
'Putting is really a tough thing,' said Dave Pelz, Mickelson's short-game instructor. 'This year his rhythm hasn't been very good. It's a little surprising after how well things went last year.'
Mickelson is the eternal optimist. And as much as success in the majors means to him, hes trying not to overemphasize their importance ' something hes tried to do his entire career.
The ultimate evaluation of his season ' this one or any other, he says, will not be determined in these four events ' let alone in just one week.
I wouldnt put it to that degree, no, he replied when asked if this event would make or break his year, but it could certainly make my perception of the way I feel about my performance (in) the four majors do a 180 this year.
But I would not wrap up the whole year into how I played in the four majors, because starting the year I felt that I had achieved a couple of things in my game that I had been wanting to do for a while.
I feel like there were some good strides taken in 2005.
Just no major strides ' at least not yet.
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  • Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''

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    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: