Woods, Mickelson display their divergent games

By Rex HoggardAugust 31, 2013, 11:40 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Tiger Woods the machine. Phil Mickelson the magician. Seems like it’s always been this way.

The only difference on a drizzly Saturday in New England is the acute dichotomy between alpha and omega unfolded in real time and in Hi-Def quality – Tiger, almost clinical in his control, and Lefty, effortlessly sidestepping landmine after landmine, dueling on a stage decades in the making.

This wasn’t for a title. This wasn’t even for the lead. That honor went to Sergio Garcia who, for the record, was doing his best impersonation of both Mickelson and Woods with a solid ball-striking day and, wait for it, a solid putting effort.

No, this bout was simply a perfect representation of Woods and Mickelson’s history and there for the whole of Boston to see it.

On the par-4 ninth hole, which Lefty admits is not his cup of tea, Mickelson fanned his drive into the trees left of the fairway, some 80 yards from where his tee shot ended up in Round 1. He took a drop and dropped his third 9 feet from the pin to save par.

Ta-dah.


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Woods, on the other hand, split the fairway at the ninth and roped his approach to 8 feet for a two-putt par.

At the 11th, the southpaw was lucky his tee shot stayed in Massachusetts and he feathered a flop shot to 2 feet that defied logic and the laws of physics.

Abracadabra.

Conversely, Woods carved his tee shot into the middle of the green and two-putted from 33 feet.

Both penciled par “3s” onto the card, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story.

“That’s artistry,” gushed Roger Maltbie, Golf Channel’s on-course reporter with the group, after Mickelson’s par saver at the 11th.

Even Woods, normally aloof when it comes to all things Mickelson, joked with Lefty as the two headed down the 12th fairway. Whatever the duo’s relationship status, the world No. 1 can appreciate a good show.

“Bones (Jim Mackay, Mickelson’s caddie) was telling us that it wasn’t that great a lie,” Woods said. “It was a decent lie, but to go ahead and try to play that shot with that much speed and he didn’t have a whole lot of room up there. But he pulled it off.”

The scene continued for two more holes – a drive left at the 12th that Mickelson converted to a par, right at the 13th for the same result. The magic seemed to run dry at the 14th when Lefty missed the green right and made bogey. When Mickelson bounced his tee shot off the rocks at the par-3 16th for double bogey it seemed as if the wheels had good and truly fallen off.

But Mickelson recovered with birdies at his two closing holes for an even-par 71. By comparison, Woods missed just two greens in regulation, took 29 putts and carded a 67.

When the dust and flop shots settled, Mickelson completed his first two loops in 8 under, a shot clear of Woods, who rolled in his longest putt of the week (35 feet) at the last.

Neither sounded like he was ready to pack it in at the Deutsche Bank Championship, but those who read body language for a living would note a distinct spring in Lefty’s step as he bolted TPC Boston.

“Sometimes when you lose it, I could easily have shot myself out of the tournament. I shot even par today,” Mickelson said. “If I go on and play the way I believe I’m going to this weekend I’m going to look back at those nine holes as the key to the entire tournament.”

Let the record show Woods ranks fifth in greens in regulation, 45th in driving accuracy and 39th in total putts; Lefty is 56th, 30th and third, respectively. Two distinct ways to build the proverbial piano, two very distinct personalities, two not-so-surprising outcomes through 36 holes.

“I hit it better today,” Woods figured. “I had a few looks. I had a couple of weird bonces out there, but overall it was a good enough day.”

For Mickelson, Saturday was as good as it gets.

The new and improved Lefty may relish the notion of selective aggressiveness and the subdued nuances of the Phranken-wood, but he will never be systematic like the guy in the red shirt. It’s not in his DNA, and, by the by, it's why the game’s “Big Two” are so polarizing.

Woods, who in his five victories this season has won by an average of three strokes, beats fields into submission; while Lefty lives and dies on the high wire. The same guy who roped a 6-iron between the pines on his way to victory at the 2010 Masters blew the 2006 U.S. Open with one too many loose swings.

That difference, that dichotomy, was on full display Saturday afternoon at TPC Boston – Phil the magician vs. Tiger the machine. Just as it’s always been.


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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

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Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”


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Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”