Rejuvenated Mickelson is remedy for American golf

By Randall MellOctober 11, 2009, 6:57 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Sean O’Hair couldn’t help himself.

His match wasn’t over late Saturday afternoon at Harding Park, but O’Hair wrapped teammate Phil Mickelson tight in a hug on the 14th green.

This is where Mickelson rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt to halve the hole and keep the Americans in a tight Presidents Cup fourball match with Vijay Singh and Tim Clark. The Americans would go on to halve the match after being 2 down on the back nine. It was a satisfying finish for the Mickelson-O’Hair team after their 5-up rout of Retief Goosen and Camilo Villegas in morning foursomes.

The 1½ points Mickelson and O’Hair teamed to win helped the United States take a 12½-9 ½ lead going into Sunday singles.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has a lot to like about his play at the Presidents Cup. (Getty Images)

Two weeks after winning the Tour Championship, Mickelson is showing off more than a rejuvenated game. He’s showing strange healing powers.

Call him Dr. Phil.

That’s been his important role this week. He’s been good for what ails American golf. Captain Fred Couples keeps sending Mickelson partners with afflictions and Mickelson keeps curing them.

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker are proving juggernauts as partners this week, too, running their record together to 4-0. They’re the best combination the San Francisco Bay area’s seen since Joe Montana and Jerry Rice teamed up to win all those Super Bowls for the 49ers. Mickelson, though, has been just as impressive running his record to 3-0-1, particularly considering the struggling partners Couples keeps sending his way.

It started on Day 1, when Mickelson was paired with Anthony Kim, who sprayed it all over the place through their first 12 holes together in foursomes. Kim kept leaving Mickelson in tough spots and Mickelson kept finding escape routs until Kim caught fire at the end.

On Day 2, Mickelson was paired with Leonard, who was licking his wounds after missing a 3-foot putt at the end of the first day, a miss that gave a late jolt to the Internationals.

Day 3 found O’Hair limping into Mickelson’s presence, but they didn’t take long to mesh in foursomes. They were 5-under through 15 holes in their foursomes dominance of Goosen and Villegas.

“We just really worked well together,” Mickelson said.

O’Hair started the week as Michael Jordan’s special project. It couldn’t have been flattering, though, with Jordan more than intimating that O’Hair lacked confidence.

“He’s such a great player, and he presents doubt to himself,” Jordan said.

Jordan managed to take some money off O’Hair in a practice round, but he apparently didn’t give O'Hair much confidence in return. O’Hair didn’t just lose his first two matches of this Presidents Cup. He didn’t lead after a single hole with his first two partners in foursomes and fourball.

Mickelson did what Jordan couldn’t.

“Phil is just hitting it very long, very straight and he’s putting well,” O’Hair said. “It takes a lot of pressure off his playing partner. I felt like I could hit it anywhere, and I would be fine.”

With his wife, Amy, fighting breast cancer, Mickelson struggled much of the summer on the course. But he’s been on fire since teaming up three weeks ago with putting guru Dave Stockton, the two-time PGA Championship winner. Mickelson won the Tour Championship with a sizzling flat-stick the week after their short-game sessions.

It’s funny how a hot putter suddenly makes Mickelson such a good partner in these international team events. He arrived at Harding Park with a pedastrian 21-27-15 record in Presidents and Ryder cups.

If Mickelson can turn around his fortunes in international team competition, what about the majors?

Stockton is excited about the possibility of Mickelson adding to his three majors, of winning his first major since the 2006 Masters.

“I’m really pumped about next year,” Stockton said while watching Mickelson play Friday.

It isn’t just the possibilities Stockton sees in Mickelson’s putting stroke. It’s the whole package.

“Butch Harmon has Phil hitting it so great,” Stockton said. “When we worked together, Phil talked about how good he’s hitting it.”

And how Mickelson’s been frustrated not being able to take advantage of the chances Harmon has helped create.

Mickelson’s teammates see something special coming together.

“Phil is swinging it awesome right now,” Leonard said. “His short game is as good as ever. He’s got a lot of confidence in it. Any time he feels like he can make putts out here, he’s dangerous.”

SAN FRANCISCO –Sean O’Hair couldn’t help himself.

 

Their match wasn’t over late Saturday afternoon at Harding Park, but O’Hair wrapped teammate Phil Mickelson tight in a hug on the 14th green.

 

This is where Mickelson rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt to halve the hole and keep the Americans in a tight Presidents Cup fourball match with Vijay Singh and Tim Clark. The Americans would go on to halve the match after being 2 down on the back nine. It was a satisfying finish for the Mickelson-O’Hair team after their 5-up rout of Retief Goosen and Camilo Villegas in morning foursomes.

 

The 1½ points Mickelson and O’Hair teamed to win helped the United States take a 12½-9 ½ lead going into Sunday singles.

 

Two weeks after winning the Tour Championship, Mickelson is showing off more than a rejuvenated game.

 

He’s showing strange healing powers.

 

Call him Dr. Phil.

 

That’s been his important role this week.

 

He’s been good for what ails American golf.

 

Captain Fred Couples keeps sending Mickelson partners with afflictions and Mickelson keeps healing them.

 

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker are proving juggernauts as partners this week, running their record together to 4-0. They’re the best combination the San Francisco Bay area’s seen since Joe Montana and Jerry Rice teamed up to win all those Super Bowls for the 49ers. Mickelson, though, has been just as impressive running his record to 3-0-1 given the struggling partners Couples keeps sending his way.

 

It started on Day 1, when Mickelson was paired with Anthony Kim, who sprayed it all over the place through their first 12 holes together in foursomes. Kim kept leaving Mickelson in tough spots and Mickelson kept finding escape routs until Kim caught fire at the end.

 

On Day 2, Mickelson was paired with Leonard, who was licking his wounds after missing a 3-foot putt at the end of the first day, a miss that gave a late jolt to the Internationals.

 

Day 3 found O’Hair limping into Mickelson’s presence, but they didn’t take long to mesh in foursomes. They were 5-under through 15 holes in their foursomes rout of Goosen and Villegas.

 

“We just really worked well together,” Mickelson said.

 

O’Hair started the week as Michael Jordan’s special project. It couldn’t have been flattering, though, with Jordan more than intimating that O’Hair lacked confidence.

 

“He’s such a great player, and he presents doubt to himself,” Jordan said.

 

Jordan managed to take some money off O’Hair in a practice round, but he apparently didn’t give O'Hair much confidence in return. O’Hair didn’t just lose his first two matches of this Presidents Cup. He didn’t lead after a single hole with his first two partners in foursomes and fourball.

 

Mickelson did what Jordan couldn’t.

 

“Phil is just hitting it very long, very straight and he’s putting well,” O’Hair said. “It takes a lot of pressure off his playing partner. I felt like I could hit it anywhere, and I would be fine.”

 

Mickelson struggled much of the summer with his wife, Amy, fighting breast cancer, but he’s been on fire since teaming up three weeks ago with putting guru Dave Stockton, the two-time PGA Championship winner. Mickelson won the Tour Championship with a hot putter the week after their short-game sessions.

 

It’s funny how a hot putter suddenly makes Mickelson such a good partner in these international team events. He hasn’t been very good in them in the past. He arrived at Harding Park a combined 21-27-15 in Presidents and Ryder cups.


If Mickelson can turn around his fortunes in international team competition, what about the majors?

 

Stockton’s excited about the possibility of Mickelson adding to his three majors, of winning his first major since the 2006 Masters.

 

“I’m really pumped about next year,” Stockton said while watching Mickelson play Friday.

 

It isn’t just the possibilities Stockton sees in Mickelson’s putting stroke. It’s the whole package.

 

“Butch Harmon has Phil hitting it so great,” Stockton said. “When we worked together, Phil talked about how good he’s hitting it.”

 

And how Mickelson’s been frustrated not being able to take advantage of the chances Harmon has helped create.

 

Mickelson’s teammates see something special coming together.

 

“Phil is swinging it awesome right now,” Leonard said. “His short game is as good as ever. He’s got a lot of confidence in it. Any time he feels like he can make putts out here, he’s dangerous.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.