Steele blossoming under the Mickelson tree

By Ryan Reiterman June 3, 2016, 8:41 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio - Standing in the middle of the 18th fairway Thursday at the Memorial, Brendan Steele first thought about taking a conservative line into one of the hardest hole locations at Muirfield Village.

But then he remembered one of many lessons he’s learned from frequent practice-round partner Phil Mickelson - be more aggressive.

Steele took dead aim at the flag and holed his second shot from 154 yards for eagle and an opening 65. He came back Friday morning and added a 67 in perfect conditions to finish at 12 under and take a share of the lead with Matt Kuchar when he finished in the early afternoon.

“A lot of things are going right,” Steele said. “Obviously, conditions are really good. So kind of a lot of good scores out there. Greens are rolling perfect. They're pretty soft. If you're in good position off the tee, you can really get after it.”

Steele’s aggressive approach has paid off so far this week, and it has also helped Mickelson, who closed with a 3-under 69 Friday to finish five behind Steele and Kuchar.

Steele and Mickelson live about an hour from each other in Southern California, and they occasionally get together either at Steele’s home in Irvine or at Mickelson’s in San Diego.

They warmed up for the Memorial with two rounds over the weekend. It didn’t end well for Steele.

Day 1: Mickelson def. Steele, 2 and 1.

Day 2: Mickelson def. Steele, 5 and 4.

“He just drummed me around for a couple days,” Steele said.

“I use a little bit more flamboyant term, but that's fine,” Mickelson said with a smile.

At 45, Mickelson has embraced his role as a big brother to many younger players on the PGA Tour. Whether it’s playing practice rounds with Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, or partnering with Keegan Bradley in the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has said he enjoys passing along his knowledge to a new generation.


Memorial Tournament: Articles, photos and videos


Steele, 33, is the latest player to gain a wealth of information from the five-time major champion.

“I've learned a ton,” he said. “I mean, he's helped me a bunch with my chipping … It's really good to pick his brain about different ways to play courses, different ways to set up your bag, different ways to – you know, he's got ideas for everything. So you can ask him any kind of question, and he's always really helpful, which is awesome. So as much as he wants to drum you, he will help you with anything you need help with.”

During another round with Mickelson, Steele learned perhaps his most valuable lesson.

“I remember this one time when we first started playing together, in 2011,” Steele recently told Golf.com. “He was drumming me - I don't even remember how bad. He missed a green and was in a bad spot, and I hit a really safe wedge. He recovered and hit it to a foot, and I three-putted. As we walked off the green, he said, ‘You know what your problem is? You think I'm going to give you a hole. Every time I hit a bad shot, you think you can play safe. You need to play like I'm never going to give you a hole, and if I do, it's a bonus.’ He was right. If you're trying to win a tournament, you can't expect guys to give you anything. You need a killer instinct—you have to step on their throats.”

Steele will have a chance to do just that this weekend at the Memorial. Rain is expected to roll in for the weekend, and that would allow the best players in the world to go into attack mode.

Steele has always been a solid driver, but his putting and mental approach have prevented him from reaching the upper rung on the PGA Tour ladder. He’s currently ranked No. 82 in the world and has only recorded one top-10 finish this season.

“The guy is one of the longest, straightest drivers out here on Tour, and he's really become a solid putter,” Mickelson said of Steele. “So when his iron play is on - and oftentimes it is - when his iron play is on, he will score like he's scoring this week.”

Steele felt he was a little off with short irons, so he called in coach Rick Smith, who is also Mickelson’s former coach, before the Memorial.

“I was swinging my long clubs pretty well when I got here, but my short irons for some reason, my divots were going left,” he said. “I was pulling them. I was really steep. And he fixed me in like five seconds.”his

With his swing in good shape, Steele’s mental game will be tested over the weekend as he tries to win his second PGA Tour title.

“I think he's realizing how good his potential is,” Mickelson said. “So when he doesn't play [to] that level of potential, it's frustrating, you know. But he's played some very solid golf the last two years, and this is a course that is suited well for him.”

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)