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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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.