Competing Against Any Generation

By Randall MellMay 11, 2011, 1:58 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – They’re coming in waves now.

With baby faces, flat bellies and cocksure resolve, a youthful new generation of players is assaulting leaderboards.

Phil Mickelson can’t help noticing.

He’ll turn 41 next month. He’s dealing with psoriatic arthritis. He’s not old by golf’s standards, not yet, but he’s getting older with the game feeling like it’s become young almost overnight.

Where Tiger Woods once loomed as the greatest obstacle between Mickelson and all he has dreamed of achieving before his career is over, a cavalry of youth is now moving in the way.

Phil Mickelson
In 17 starts at The Players, Phil Mickelson has recorded just three top 10s. (Getty Images)

If Mickelson wants to win 11 more PGA Tour events to reach 50 for his career, if he wants to become the sixth player to win all four of the modern majors, he’ll have to go through the next generation to do so. He needs to win the U.S. Open and British Open to claim the career Grand Slam.

Charl Schwartzel won The Masters last month at 26, Martin Kaymer the PGA Championship last August at 25 and Louis Oosthuizen the British Open last July at 27.

Rory McIlroy was the 54-hole leader at Augusta National at 21. Jason Day tied for second there at 23. Matteo Manassero won his second European Tour event at 17 the week after the Masters.

You can’t look at a leaderboard most Sundays now without seeing the game getting younger.

Does that mean Mickelson is feeling older?

“I don’t feel that way,” Mickelson said. “I don’t feel that way because I see some things in my game that are starting to get better and better.”

Mickelson ended an 11-month winless spell claiming the Shell Houston Open last month. He arrives at The Players Championship with the confidence of knowing he won this event four years ago. After a sluggish start to the year, Mickelson feels as if he’s on the verge of a big summer.

“I really know what it is I’m trying to do on the greens now,” Mickelson said. “I’m rolling the ball better than I have in years.

“My short game has been sharp. My driving has been much better. I’m excited about this week. I feel like I’m driving the ball straighter than I ever have, and I’m excited to put that in play.

“My mindset changes after Augusta. It’s not distance anymore. I’ve got to get the ball in the fairway. It will be interesting to see if I can do that this week. If I’m able to put the ball in play, I should have a very good week because I’m able to attack a lot of the greens, the pins and play for some birdies.”

Mickelson may have won The Players, but his overall record shows the struggle his errant driving presents at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. In 17 starts, Mickelson’s recorded just three top 10s. Since his victory in ’07, he’s finished T-21, T-55 and T-17.

Asked if at 40 he senses the window getting smaller on his opportunities, Mickelson shakes his head no.

“I see my game getting better than it has been, and I welcome the challenge and think that there’s a lot of opportunity for me to still have a lot of success,” he said.

With a victory this week, Mickelson can realize another first in his career. He can move to No. 1 in the world rankings.

“It’s certainly what everyone strives for,” he said. “But it’s not something that’s on the forefront of anyone’s mind. I think the most important thing is to win tournaments, to compete in a tournament like this week’s. There’s a lot more satisfaction beating the best players in the world on a challenging test like this than there is to say you’re ranked `X’ in the world rankings.”

While Mickelson’s getting himself ready for the U.S. Open at Congressional, he ranks The Players as among the most important titles he can win outside the majors.

“Having won here, there’s a certain amount of pressure that I feel is taken off,” Mickelson said. “I’m able, I don’t want to say free wheel, but play a little freer.”

In other words, he’s eager to take on the next generation.

 


Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMellGC

 

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

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:

PGA Tour:

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.

LPGA:

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.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

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.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


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).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

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.