New York State of Mind

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Phil Mickelson was born in Southern California. He sports a home with a dinosaur head and a space rock in Scottsdale and logs more flight hours in the G4 than a GM executive. But somewhere along the way from Bethpage to Winged Foot and back to Bethpage, he became New York ' like Woody Allen and graffiti.
 
Spray paint this on the side of the West Broadway local: NYC loves Lefty.
 
So imagine the show when the adopted prodigal son grinned and glad-handed his way around Bethpage Black on Wednesday, about a month removed from the type of news that changes lives and seven years removed from a championship run that changed the loyalties of an entire city.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson enjoys his practice round Wednesday at Bethpage. (Getty Images)
Or, as one fan mused midway through Wednesdays madness: Is this Wednesday or Sunday?
 
Didnt matter, at least not to the better part of two burrows who gathered in this corner of Long Island to watch Mickelson, who, by the by, didnt hit a single shot that counted. That comes Thursday when the intensity promises to climb even higher.
 
Before he headed out for his collective hug, Mickelson met with the press. Funny, this time last year we were grilling the left-hander about his no-driver experiment and a Day 1 pairing with Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines. On Wednesday most scribes were just glad to see him because that means Amy Mickelsons condition is not as bad as originally feared.
 
Amy Mickelson, the Tour staple who celebrated her husbands breakthrough victory at the 2004 Masters and his heartbreaking loss at Winged Foot in 2006 with equal grace and verve, was diagnosed with breast cancer last month and Mickelson suspended his schedule indefinitely, a dire sign for those who read tea leaves.
 
But Leftys return last week at Memphis and to the scene of his 2002 U.S. Open near miss this week was a reason to exhale. The road ahead is still daunting, but the medical mountain suddenly doesnt seem so high. And Amy, never one to let her man off without dig, had a simple request to help ease her into treatment.
 
She's left me a number of little notes, texts, cards, hints, that she would like to have a silver trophy in her hospital room, said Mickelson, who plans to be by his wifes side on July 1 when she begins treatment. So I'm going to try to accommodate that.
 
More so than anyone not named Woods, Mickelson shows up at Grand Slam events with a single purpose. Truth is he probably has no idea how many top 10s hes posted in major championships and doesnt care. This week is no different, despite the circumstances or the serenading.
 
On Wednesday Mickelson said he was confident in his game, adding that he may be hitting the ball better than he ever has. A prevailing school of thought in these parts is that time between the ropes will provide him with an escape from his wifes medical fortunes, if just for a few hours.
 
I did enjoy having a bit of a reprieve, if you will, in getting on a golf course and forcing myself to concentrate on something else, Mickelson said of his week in Memphis.
 
After his press conference Mickelson headed out into the cool morning to join Bones and Butch and what seemed like 30,000 of his closest friends and associates. If Mickelson doesnt land that coveted silver trophy ' the one he let slip through his fingers at Winged Foot and Pinehurst ' it wont be from a lack of support from the NYC faithful.
 
Its a measure of a mans popularity when his caddie pulls more applause than almost anyone else in the field. But then Mickelson roars are as much a part of Bethpage now as forced carries and public golf zealots who sleep in cars for tee times.
 
On the 13th green one fan started a curious trend, barking out: Youre a beautiful man Phil Mickelson. On the ninth green an entire gallery broke into a chorus of Happy Birthday, to celebrate Lefty turning 39 on Tuesday.
 
In between there was golf, smiles and more well-wishers than a census man could count. Exactly what Mickelson needed. An escape, where Butch Harmon was less swing coach and more counsel and Jim Bones Mackay was less caddie and more companion. Lean on me Grand Slam style.
 
Included in Wednesdays four-ball was three major champions and Darron Stiles, a curious fourth wheel who has had more than his share of personal tragedy and between-the-ropes therapy this season.
 
Stiles, who has been alongside an aunt and sister-in-law who battled breast cancer, was hardly 18 holes into his fifth year on Tour at Januarys Sony Open when his wife called to tell him his father had just passed away.
 
Stiles withdrew from the Sony, raced home and has struggled with his emotions and his game ever since.
 
I still think about my dad every day, so it definitely helps to be out here, Stiles said. I can feel what (Mickelson) is going through. Theres a lot inside thats not coming out, but from the outside hes doing real well.
 
Mickelsons ability to internalize Amys plight and focus on the most demanding four rounds in golf remains to be seen.
 
At the 1995 Masters Ben Crenshaw funneled the pain of losing longtime swing coach and friend Harvey Penick into a green jacket. However, three years ago just across Long Island at Winged Foot Tiger Woods, mentally the strongest golfer of this and maybe any generation, struggled in the wake of his father Earls passing and missed the cut. Its the only time hes missed a cut at a major as a pro. The point? It can go either way.
 
One thing is for certain, if Mickelson can compartmentalize the fire, then the fan base is in place for the most inspiring Open victory since, well, last year at Torrey Pines.
 
Midway through his round Mickelson found himself deep in a greenside sand trap at the 18th. Butchie, he smiled, tell me if this goes in.
 
Youll hear it, Harmon correctly reasoned.
 
And if Mickelson can align the proper stars and hoist silver on Sunday, theyll hear it from Montauk to Manhattan.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage -2009 U.S. Open
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  • Bethpage Black Ballpark
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    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.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

    Getty Images

    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.