Mickelson showcases love of Augusta National

By Rex HoggardApril 11, 2012, 7:48 pm

It was over in a blur. A cruel carom, a pair of awkward attempts from the wrong side of the ball, and when it was over it all added up to a triple-bogey 6 and a near miss at the tournament that means the most to Phil Mickelson.

Lefty had his chances coming down the stretch but could never close the gap on Louis Oosthuizen and eventual Masters champion Bubba Watson, and it will be his implosion at No. 4, not all those missed birdie attempts on the back nine, that will be filed away in Masters lore.

Yet this wasn’t Winged Foot. If the 2006 U.S. Open was pure heartbreak, the 2012 Masters felt more like a bad break. Whereas the ’06 national championship was filled with self-loathing, last week was tempered by the satisfaction that he played the percentages and got burned.

“Tactically what I try to do there is aim left of the pin and I try to hit either the left edge or in the bunker or just left of the bunker where I'm chipping up the green, chipping into the slope. Usually I can get that up-and-down and make par. If not, I make a 4,” said Mickelson late Sunday after finishing tied for third place, two strokes out of the playoff.

“If it goes into people and stops right there, no problem. If it goes into the grand stand, no problem. It hit the metal railing and shot in the trees . . .”

If that doesn’t exactly fit the soundtrack of the feisty competitor consider Mickelson’s affinity for the former fruit nursery. It’s a love affair that stretches back to 1989 and Lefty’s freshman year at Arizona State.

Mickelson’s coach flew the team to north Georgia that year to play in the annual Augusta State tournament, which is held the week before the Masters. After the tournament, which Mickelson won, ASU coach Steve Loy bused the team over to Augusta National to watch a practice round.

“I did that on purpose,” said Loy, who is now Mickelson’s manager. “It’s the only time we ever played (the Augusta State tournament).”

Loy told his team to enjoy themselves and to meet under the iconic oak tree behind the clubhouse at 5 p.m.

“Phil comes running over to me about 3 p.m. and says, ‘Let’s go,’” Loy recalled. “The guy that I was here for the most says let’s go.

“I can tell he’s mad. He’s quiet and I don’t say anything to him until we get back to the airport and I ask what’s wrong? He says, ‘Don’t ever bring me out here again until I get to play.’ That’s how long he’s loved this place.”

In 1996 Jack Nicklaus said of a very young Tiger Woods that he “should” win more green jackets than himself (six) and Arnold Palmer (four) combined, yet as the course, and Lefty’s game, has evolved it’s starting to feel like Mickelson is better equipped to match if not both legends then perhaps the Golden Bear’s half dozen green jackets.

Since 2002 when the course underwent “significant changes,” Mickelson has won all three of his Masters titles, while Woods has won just one of his four (2005).

Part of Lefty’s success at Augusta National is a question of simple geometry and genetics. As a southpaw it’s easier for Mickelson to play a high, right-to-left fade that stops quickly than it is for a right-handed golfer to play a high draw. See Martin Kaymer in 2011.

“I think that being a lefty maybe on the back kind of helps him. Twelve is an easier shot,” said Keegan Bradley, who made two scouting trips to Augusta National with Mickelson prior to this year’s tournament. “He can hit drivers on 13 and 10 and get it way down there.”

But that only partially explains the phenomenon that Fred Couples called “Phil’s playground.”

There is a passion for the place that transcends the simplicity of routing and physics, a genuine affection that drove Mickelson out to the first tee just past dawn last Thursday, some six hours before his opening-round tee time to watch Nicklaus, Palmer and Gary Player hit the ceremonial first tee shots.

“I had no idea he was going out there Thursday morning, but it just speaks to all the things we take for granted in the game and a guy that is that deep will remember it the most,” Loy said. “He wanted to be there for that historic moment.”

When Mickelson began the final round last week one stroke behind front-runner Peter Hanson some had already began fitting him for his fourth green jacket, which would tie him on the all-time list for second place with Woods and Palmer.

In fairness to Mickelson, he has come by his perennial favorite status honestly.

In 18 starts since 1995 Mickelson has missed just one cut, finished outside the top 10 only four times and has five third-place finishes to go with his three victories. He’s also authored some of the tournament’s greatest shots, including his carving 6-iron off the pine straw and between two trees on Sunday at No. 13 on his way to victory, and his gravity-defying flop shot at the 15th last Saturday to assure himself a spot in Sunday’s anchor pairing.

Much has been made of Woods’ pursuit of Nicklaus’ record of 18 professional majors, but it seems Mickelson now has his sights set on one of the Golden Bears’ benchmarks – six green jackets.

“(Woods) will probably be the favorite over the next 20 years. If he isn't, there's something wrong,” Nicklaus reasoned way back in 1996.

How times have changed.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.