Mickelson addresses media in 2010 debut

By Rex HoggardJanuary 28, 2010, 4:04 am
Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – Phil Mickelson is from Venus and Tiger Woods is from Mars. Has always been that way, but at no time during the duo’s adversarial existence has that truth ever been so clear.

On Wednesday at Torrey Pines – the stage, it’s worth noting, of Woods’ greatest victory – one appeared relaxed and eagerly glad-handed the media, while the other remained in a self-inflicted exile and was likely just glad to be out of the media spotlight.

One played offense, not only acknowledging the elephant in the room but calling out the obvious, while the other remains defensive and clings to his privacy.

One begins 2010 with the zeal of a child, emboldened by recent successes and epiphanies and a re-ignited competitive spirit, while the other faces an uncertain professional future as he deals with a deeply personal conflict.

It was always clear Mickelson and Woods were cut from vastly different DNA, but watching Lefty enthusiastically bound into a new season on Wednesday raised the possibility that the two aren’t even of the same species.

From the outset of Mickelson’s 35-minute “State of Phil” address to the media, the left-hander was preemptiveand productive, by definition the estranged sibling of the way Woods has handled the crap storm that has become his personal life.

“Before we talk about (the Farmers Insurance Open) there’s a few other areas I’d like to discuss,” Mickelson began.

No duck, no cover, just to the point – from Woods’ exile from Tour life to new grooves to the health of his wife, Amy, and mother who were diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

“The game of golf needs him to come back,” Mickelson said of Woods. “But right now he’s got a lot more important things going on in his life.”

From there Mickelson declined to go into much more detail other than to say he has spoken with the “Woods family” and wishes them the best. Hardly stop-the-press stuff but enough to satisfy the assembled scribes and move on.

Perhaps the biggest news of the day was Mickelson’s explanation of a scheduling conflict that will keep him from playing next month’s Match Play Championship, which will mark just the second time he’s missed the event since it began in 1999.

The good news for Accenture, the financial services giant that pays the bills at the Match Play, is that if bad things come in threes they’ve met their quota. Woods’ troubles prompted Accenture to distance itself from one of their primary endorsers, which in turn all but guarantees he will skip golf’s version of the “Big Dance.” In recent days the company’s stock price has fallen to a January low, and now no Phil.

After Woods’ freefall, the Match Play – the center of the golf universe last year as the site of Woods’ much-anticipated comeback – is the leader in the clubhouse for this season’s buzzkill award.

Yet Mickelson even made lemonade out of his Match Play lemon, suggesting he would make up the start later in the year when his schedule permits and, completely unprovoked, explained why he would skip the event.

“The Match Play is a week that my kids are out of school and that’s why I’m skipping this year, not because I want to,” Mickelson said. “It was the best week for us to have a family vacation that we had to reschedule because of our procedures.”

From his intense offseason regimen to his newfound confidence with his putter, Mickelson’s anticipation for the coming season was palpable and a perfect paradigm of the game’s two most divergent personalities.

Hidden within the words left unsaid, however, was the reality that golf is at its best when Phil is at his best, pushing Woods and providing balance to a playing field that has seemed tilted for too long.

It’s not as if Mickelson needs Woods to feel complete, but head-to-head victories against the greatest of all time fuel the competitive spirit, to say nothing of the ego.

Mickelson finished 2009 2-for-2 against Woods, winning the Tour Championship with Woods watching in the group behind him and the WGC-HSBC Champions, where the world No. 1 seemed to be playing via an avatar.

It’s why Mickelson went to Dave Stockton Sr., swing coach Butch Harmon and trainer Sean Cochran. Why he began his offseason workout regimen earlier than ever and spent more time at the Callaway test facility than some salaried employees.

“This is as hard as I’ve ever seen him work,” said Cochran, who has been with Mickelson since 2003. “You could see he was really motivated.”

Nor did one need to be Dr. Phil on Wednesday to see Mickelson was at the far end of the emotional compass from Woods. Nos. 1 and 2 in the World Ranking never seemed so far apart.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

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

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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