Wedge wizard Mickelson maintains lead at Riviera

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2012, 12:59 am

LOS ANGELES – Phil Mickelson was waving his magic wand again Friday at the Northern Trust Open.

Other players call it a wedge.

Whatever you want to call it, there must be something mystical in the scoring club’s composite materials with Mickelson able to make his ball look like it’s defying gravity at Riviera this week.

That’s exactly what Mickelson’s hole-out looked like at No. 8 near the end of the second round. The shot fueled his bid to win back-to-back PGA Tour events, to win wire to wire this week.

From 110 yards out, Mickelson put some clever action on his L-wedge, getting his ball to spin sideways into the hole for eagle.

“He looked at me yesterday and said, `I’m OK with a wedge,’” Kyle Stanley said.

The quip made Stanley laugh. It was like hearing Itzhak Perlman say he’s OK with a violin.

“Phil is playing as good as I’ve seen him in awhile,” said Brandt Snedeker, who also played alongside Mickelson. “He’s driving the ball well. He’s not hitting any crazy ones, and his short game is phenomenal.”

With a 1-under-par 70, Mickelson used some sleight of hand to keep himself atop the leaderboard.

There’s no other way to explain how Mickelson holed that shot at the eighth.

“I’ve been struggling [with Riviera’s greens],” Mickelson said. “When I expect the greens to release, they are stopping. When I expect them to stop, they are releasing. I was afraid if I went at that pin, I could easily go long and all the way down that hill. Rather than take a chance, what I tried to do was sling-hook an L-wedge, and try to side-spin it towards the hole. It kind of side-spun right in the hole.”

Mickelson also chipped in from 20 feet at the 16th green. A day earlier, he chipped in from behind the 18th hole.

“You put a wedge in his hand, and he has a pretty good chance of making it,” Snedeker said. “I don’t think his confidence is ever really an issue. He thinks he can hit every shot at all times.”

Mickelson’s magic included getting away with some misses, thanks to his wedge and short game. He left Riviera after a morning round to fly his jet back to his home in Rancho Sante Fe, just 75 minutes away. He wanted to be back to work in the four-acre short-game practice facility he has in his backyard. He said he wanted to work on his putting. He missed a 4-footer for par at the 18th, a 5-footer for par at the ninth in his final hole.

“I wanted to score low,” Mickelson said. “I played well enough, but I didn’t give myself chances to really go much lower. I ended up probably getting a pretty good score the way I played.”

Mickelson is hard to beat with the lead. He has won the last four times he has held a 36-hole lead in a PGA Tour event, six of the last seven times.

“I put myself in contention heading into the weekend, which is what my initial goal was,” Mickelson said. “I’m right in the thick of it. I’ve got to go out and shoot some low scores, because they’re out there.”

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.