Cleaning up the park

By Randall MellOctober 9, 2009, 6:01 am

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco’s United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 38 should make Phil Mickelson an honorary member.

Now Mickelson knows what it’s like to be a plumber on emergency call.

He would have been well-served tossing a club out of his bag before Thursday’s lead-off match to the Presidents Cup and inserting a plunger.

Time after time early in the foursomes match, Mickelson waded in to clean up somebody else’s mess.

Well, Anthony Kim’s mess.

Mickelson’s superior clean-up skills kept the Americans close in a very untidy alternate-shot match until Kim got hot on the back nine and the duo put away the scrappy International team of Mike Weir and Tim Clark 3 and 2.

Phil Mickelson Presidents Cup
Phil Mickelson plays Anthony Kim's tee shot on the 10th hole during the Thursday's foursomes at the Presidents Cup. (Getty Images)

“We didn’t play the best the first 10 holes, obviously,” Mickelson said. “We fought to keep in the match.”

And then close it out with four consecutive birdies.

Kim wasn’t the only player struggling early. This match was so bad on the front nine it was worthy of Comedy Central’s Top 10 Plays of the Day, if they had such a thing. The sixth hole was a comedy of errors.

With Kim due up on the tee, Mickelson took a shortcut away from the fifth green to watch from aside the sixth fairway.

We’ll let Mickelson pick it up from there.

“Next thing I know, the ball is hooking over my head and is falling straight down in front of me, about 180 yards off the tee,” Mickelson said.

Kim’s wild shot ricocheted off some trees before settling near the base of a tree.

When Mickelson wandered over to inspect the lie, he heard the crack of ball against a tree on the other side of the fairway. He turned to see Weir’s drive, which was even worse than Kim’s.

“Hit a tree and came back on the cart path 70 yards,” Mickelson said. “So they’re 165 yards off the tee.”

Mickelson turned to the gallery huddling around his ball and smirked.

“And this is from the best golf has to offer,” Mickelson cracked.

Folks roared . . . and then they ducked.

Almost as if on cue, another errant shot came whistling over Mickelson’s head from another direction.

Ernie Els, playing in the match behind Mickelson, hit a hook that slammed into a cart 20 yards behind Mickelson.

This is where Mickelson got to show how clever he can be. With almost no backswing trying to punch back into the sixth fairway, he decided to turn his stance and aim left. He hit a wicked hook up the wrong fairway, on purpose. He played up the fifth fairway to give Kim a shot at the sixth green.

“When it was all said and done, we had 5-footers for bogey,” Mickelson said. “We made ours, they missed theirs and we won the hole.”

Mickelson and Kim bogeyed the second, sixth, seventh and ninth holes but were still only 1 down making the turn. That’s because Weir and Clark couldn’t make a birdie all day. Both teams shot 39 on the front nine and looked as if they might have trouble breaking 80.

“I was a little heavy on the front nine, but Phil picked me up, and fortunately I got some opportunities on the back nine,” Kim said.

The second nine didn’t start with much promise. Kim sliced his tee shot into the trees at the 10th, his ball dropping behind the giant trunk of a Cypress. Mickelson’s approach shot was blocked, but you could see his mind at work. He looked down at the ball, up at the tree trunk, up at the canopy of branches hanging down like a ceiling atop him and formulated an escape route. He hit a giant hook from 180 yards around the tree, under the branches and onto the green, 30 feet from the pin. Kim missed the birdie putt, but it was a terrific halve.

Dave Stockton, the two-time major championship winner who is now Mickelson’s putting coach, nodded approvingly.

“Foursomes is so tough,” Stockton said. “It tests everything, temperament, everything.”

Mickelson didn’t seem to mind all the tough spots Kim left him. He seemed to relish showing off how creative he can be, but he didn’t have to be in the end. Kim caught fire.

“We felt like at 1 down, if we could get just one little spark to get the round going, that’s all we needed,” Mickelson said.

At the 13th hole, Kim hit a wedge shot to 3 feet to set up Mickelson with an easy birdie putt. At the 14th tee, Kim hit a 7-iron to 18 feet and Mickelson holed another birdie putt.

“I’m feeling really good about my putting,” Mickelson said.

Really, the round was classic Mickelson and Kim, big misses, big makes and big adventure.

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.