Mickelson goes 67-67, lurks behind Woods at Doral

By Rex HoggardMarch 8, 2013, 9:22 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Maybe it was Tuesday’s drive down Magnolia Lane, or Wednesday’s range session with Butch Harmon, or the sight of Tiger Woods rolling again at Doral and the ghosts of 2005 swirling in his subconscious.

Whatever the tonic, count Phil Mickelson among the highly motivated this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, and as a rule good things happen when Lefty is properly fixated.

It was eight years ago, when Doral was a rare splash of South Florida flavor before the PGA Tour stop went WGC and corporate, that Mickelson and Woods put on a Sunday show. On a warm, sunny day the game’s alpha and omega delivered a title bout that old men in sandwich shops still talk about.

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Woods and Mickelson finished 54 holes separated by two strokes and atop the field. On Sunday they traded nine birdies and an eagle. Woods closed with a 66 for a one-stroke victory, while Mickelson carded a 69 that included a closing attempt for birdie on No. 18 that caught the lip of the hole but drifted away.

Since then Woods holds the edge in head-to-heads when the two are paired together with an 8-6-2 record, but in recent years it is Mickelson who has taken a mano-y-mano edge in the game’s ultimate two-ball.

In the final round last year at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Lefty lapped Woods, carding a 64 to “Red Shirt’s” 75 and in 2007 at the Deutsche Bank Championship it was Phil again, 66 to 67.

Karma didn’t work out for Saturday. Graeme McDowell birdied his last two holes to take his place in the day’s anchor pairing with Woods, but that didn’t dim Mickelson’s hopes for a Sunday sequel in South Florida.

“I saw Tiger was playing well and I wanted to make a couple birdies to get in the group with him,” said Mickelson, who has posted matching 67s this week and is tied for third place, three strokes behind Woods. “It seems since 2007 when we played at Deutsche Bank in Boston, I've been playing some of my best golf when we get paired together.”

There was an intensity to Mickelson’s take on his time with Tiger that can’t be gleaned from printed sound bites. He wants this like he used to want In-N-Out burgers.

There are few, if any, as talented as Mickelson when he achieves the proper level of desire and this week at Doral he is motivated – in mind and body. Not bad for a guy who said he began this week “cautiously optimistic” following a two-week competitive hiatus and a rare trip to the practice tee after his round on Wednesday to work with Harmon.

“He seldom practices after a round but the wind was perfect for a left-handed player (left to right) and I asked him to hit some balls,” Harmon said. “It’s a lot of the things we’ve worked on in the past so it’s easy to get it back.”

In short, Harmon said Mickelson was getting his lower body through the ball too fast. The fix was “getting his arms across his body,” and “quieting his lower body,” Harmon said.

The result has been plenty of birdie opportunities – highlighted by a few Phil moments, including a birdie off a cart path on Day 1 – and a chance to win his second Tour tilt of 2013 and a possible Doral re-do with Woods.

There’s also something to be said for Mickelson’s scouting trip to Augusta National on Tuesday with Keegan Bradley. For Lefty the home of The Masters is like a competitive B-12 shot.

“Seeing the course, playing there, and being on the grounds, having breakfast, having lunch there, overlooking the grounds and just playing there, gets me excited about the game,” Mickelson said of Augusta National. “There's something very spiritual about playing Augusta if you love the game as much as I do and going there gets me fired up.”

Nor should observers dismiss the fact that . . . well, there is less of himself to motivate these days. Mickelson said he’s losing about a pound a month and has lost about 25 pounds over the last two years, a byproduct of a better diet and a more intense workout regimen.

Mickelson actually began training in the gym earlier than ever this offseason and switched up his routine this week to work out before his round, not after, which has been the norm.

“I noticed since 2010 (the year Mickelson was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis) he’s been much more conscientious to eat healthy,” said Sean Cochran, Mickelson’s longtime trainer. “And this offseason he’s been much more dedicated to his workout program.”

For Mickelson all these tumblers have fallen into place in perfect confluence on a perfectly familiar pitch. For golf it has created the opportunity for the perfect storm on Sunday at Doral – again.

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."