Phil Fights to Stay Fit

By Rich LernerJanuary 24, 2003, 5:00 pm
Inside a corporate tent at the Phoenix Open, the caterer looked up at a rerun of the 1996 tournament playing out on The Golf Channel. Without hesitating, he said, Wow, look how young Phil Mickelson looks!
Seven years later, Mickelson, still closely resembling Hollywood star Hugh Grant, by no means looks old. But the contrast was fairly stark. More angular face then. Leaner overall body. But isnt that what getting olders all about for most? Getting wiser and wider?
I will always have fat on me, Phil explained, as if he were John Candy. Theres nothing I can do about it.
Ive got subcutaneous fat, he continued.
Sub what? asked a confused reporter.
Subcutaneous, replied Phil. Beneath the skin.
A roomful of blank reporter faces(is there any other kind?) stared back, the way we do when Phils launching into an aerodynamic discussion about the new Pro V1 X, which, by the way, hes playing, along with the Titleist 983K driver.
Most people who are ripped have visceral fat, he explained. Theres nothing I can do about it. Subcutaneous fat just lies underneath the skin as opposed to underneath the muscle.
So its not really my fault Im fat? wondered the same confounded reporter, having also struggled to stay slim.
No, no thats not it, said Phil. Some people put on weight, but theyre still ripped because its underneath the muscle.
Trying to subdue the subcutaneous, Phil now works with a personal trainer, Sean Cochran, whos done a good deal with baseball pitchers. Theyre concentrating on the core. Thus, the only ball as hot as the V1 is the heavy ball guys are using in the gym these days.
Its not a fad, Phil said. Its just were learning more bio-mechanically that the down swing is started by the core muscles. And to create speed you need to create more strength.
Phils also dabbling in martial arts.
Ive always been intrigued by that, he remarked.
New workout regimen. New golf ball. New driver. Relatively new putter, which Phil admits is ugly but effective.
Its interesting, he said. I had a conversation with a player/announcer at the Buick Challenge, and he looked at my putter and said, This is ridiculous. How
can you use this?
I said, Its that mentality that has you in the booth right now. Its the inability to be open minded and try new equipment to play better and to improve that keeps players stagnant.
Phils anything but stagnant, yet in a way he is stuck. Stuck without a major. Stuck with comparisons to Tiger.
Phil admitted to me that its frustrating at times.
It seems like when the media talks about me, its in a negative light, he said. Its always, Phil doesnt make enough putts or Phil doesnt hit enough fairways.
I related to him that I could understand how he would be agitated and heres why. If you were one of the three best heart surgeons in the world, or one of the three best stock brokers in the world, and you were in your early 30s and worth tens of millions of dollars, wouldnt you be just a little irritated if people so closely scrutinized your methods as they do Phils? Wouldnt you say to yourself, Hey, wait a minute, Im one of the three best in the world at what I do so I think Ive got a pretty good handle on how to approach my business.
Im glad you said that, Phil told me.
And yet, this is sport, and part of sports is scrutinizing, analyzing and debating. Its what fans and pundits do.
It comes with the territory, Phil admitted.
Truth is, the microscope will be on Phil until he wins a major. In golf, fairly or unfairly, a players judged on how he performs in majors.
Looking back, Phil was critical of his performance in 2002.
Last year, he recalled, I didnt drive the ball well, period. I slipped in distance and my accuracy actually declined.
Thus, the search for answers continues.
Ive got a great driver, he emphasized. Ive got a great ball. Ive got to make the swings now. If I do, Ive got a product that will put the ball well over 300 yards and get me wedged in. If I can do that and hit the fairway, Im going to have a lot of birdies and have a great year.
A great year obviously will include, most importantly, the healthy delivery of a baby boy, due in March. Phil will play a heavy West Coast schedule, minus the Nissan, then compete at Doral, where his new endorsement partner, Ford, takes over as title sponsor. Thereafter, hell miss The Players to be with his expanding family.
I hope I can play the week before the Masters to tune up, he said. But well have to wait and see.'
By then, Phil hopes to be fit and ready, subcutaneous fat be damned.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.