Perfect timing for Phil's resurgence at Dell

By Rex HoggardSeptember 2, 2017, 7:28 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Tim Mickelson waited patiently while Jon Rahm, who Mickelson represents, answered a parade of questions following a second-round 66 at TPC Boston that moved the Spaniard into the lead at the second postseason stop.

But player-manager is Mickelson’s day job. He’s been moonlighting as his brother’s caddie the last few months and Caddie Mickelson hasn’t had a lot of post-round work to do this season, as Player Mickelson has eschewed practice sessions after playing.

It’s not as though Phil Mickelson hasn’t had the desire to work on his game after rounds in recent months, it’s just that the energy and focus hasn’t been there to make the extracurricular activity worthwhile.

“I'm going to go practice when we're done. I haven't done that in a while because I've been so tired after the round, and I just feel a lot better,” Lefty said following a second-round 67 moved him into the hunt at the Dell Technologies Championship.

All of which meant Rahm’s press conference was just the beginning of Caddie Mickelson’s day. “Heading to the range in about 20 minutes,” he smiled.

Although Mickelson declined to give specifics, he explained following Friday’s first round that he’s been struggling with his focus and energy for the last six or eight months, a concern that led him to see a doctor who devised a treatment program that Lefty said has made a big difference, as evidenced by his play this week.

Mickelson hasn’t opened a tournament with back-to-back under-par rounds since early June and he said the biggest difference is with his short game and shots like the one he hit on the 18th hole when he scrambled from a collection area with a vintage pitch to 2 feet for a closing birdie.

“That's exactly what I'm talking about,” Mickelson said of his shot at the 18th hole. “I haven't been able to see how I want the ball to come off while I'm hitting it. When I'm looking at the ball, I usually have a mental picture of the shot and visualizing the shot, and then my body kind of reacts to that; creates that shot. I haven't been doing that. I've just been blindly hitting the shot.”

Dell Technologies Championship: Articles, video and photos

Current FedExCup Playoff points standings

The timing couldn’t be better, not just for Mickelson but for U.S. Presidents Cup captain Steve Stricker, who will make his picks for this year’s team following Monday’s final round.

Last month, Stricker offered Mickelson a bit of motivation at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, “you’ve got to show me a little bit more than what you’ve shown lately,” he told the southpaw in what was an admittedly awkward moment for the normally reserved American captain.

But Mickelson, who has played on every U.S. Presidents Cup team and hasn’t missed a team event since 1994, understood.

“[Stricker] needs to do what's best for the team,” Mickelson said. “He needs to get the best guys on the team. These are fun events but they are also important and we want to win, and as a captain, it's his job, responsibility, to make the tough decisions and do what's in the best interests of the team and I support that either way.”

Although a solid week at TPC Boston would certainly make Stricker’s Tuesday a little less stressful, it’s hard to imagine Mickelson being left off the U.S. team.

In recent matches he’s taken on the role of team room leader, pairing with rookies like Anthony Kim and Keegan Bradley with great success and generally being, well, Phil.

“If you've got an option to have him around on or off the team, it would be a benefit,” said Lucas Glover, who played on the 2007 and ’09 Presidents Cup teams with Mickelson. “Just the competitiveness, the humor, the passive-aggressive, just, I want to beat everybody. And you feed off that. Just great for a team.”

Although Mickelson is currently 18th on the U.S. points list (the top 10 automatically qualify), there’s not exactly a list of players making more compelling arguments to be a pick. No. 15 on that list is Brandt Snedeker, who shut it down for the season with a sternum joint injury, and No. 17 Ryan Moore, who withdrew from the second playoff stop on Friday following an opening 82.

Last week on Long Island, Stricker indicated Kevin Chappell, 11th on the points list, has played well enough all season to deserve a pick if he doesn’t move into the top 10; which means there’s a scenario where the final pick could come down to No. 12 Brian Harman, 13 Jason Dufner, 14 Gary Woodland and 16 Brendan Steele.

Oh, and Mickelson, who seems to have found some 11th-hour form and brings an unquantifiable level of leadership to a team that already includes five Presidents Cup rookies (six if Chappell makes the team).

“I would love to be the one he felt added to the team but if I'm not, he's got to make that tough call. I totally understand it,” Mickelson said. “I've had a tough time for awhile. But these two rounds, although they have been great, I don't know if that's enough or not.”

Mickelson’s start at the Dell Technologies Championship may not be enough to ease Stricker’s busy mind, but two more days of focus and energy would certainly help.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.