Phil's in position, and pressure's on

By Will GrayFebruary 14, 2016, 1:33 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Things are starting to look up for Phil Mickelson.

The stray misses that have dogged him for the better part of two years have recently been few and far between. That all-world short game that led to five majors – not to mention a few DVD opportunities – has been on full display this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The swing is improving under a new coach, and the results have been piling up. Everything seems to be pointing in the right direction.

All of which means one thing: As Mickelson’s month-long, season-opening stretch culminates Sunday along the iconic coast of Pebble Beach, the pressure will be on him to produce a win.

Mickelson has grinded through some lean times – 937 days, to be exact – since he last lifted a PGA Tour trophy. That 2013 Open Championship win was supposed to be a harbinger of more great things to come, a victory that could propel Mickelson even further up golf’s all-time list.

It was win No. 42 of a career haul that, well, was expected to extend beyond 42 wins.

But here we sit, 937 days since he walked off with the claret jug, and the 43rd spot in Mickelson’s trophy case remains bare.

There was a close call last month in Palm Springs, and another solid result last week in Phoenix. But no opportunity has been as appetizing as the one that awaits Mickelson Sunday at Pebble, where he has won four times and leads by two shots after spinning a 6-under 66 on the host course.

“It really does feel good to finally get the scores out of it, to know that I’m playing well and to finally get the number that will get me back into contention,” Mickelson said. “It’s great that I’m leading, but it’s fun to be back in the thick of it.”


AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson may crack an extra-wide smile once he takes a peek at the leaderboard and sees he’s not exactly facing a murderer’s row here on the Monterey Peninsula. He’ll play the final round alongside little-known Hiroshi Iwata, and the only PGA Tour win from his three closest competitors belongs to Freddie Jacobson in the 2011 Travelers Championship.

You probably have to go down to Jason Day to find a name that may give Mickelson reason to pause, but the Aussie is tied for eighth and six shots back.

“Phil’s playing really well, obviously,” said Jacobson, who at 13 under trails Mickelson by three. “I’m going to have to go low tomorrow if I want to have a chance to win, so that’s my goal. I’m going to have to have another good one like I did Thursday.”

Mickelson has had no issues scoring across three different layouts, but he hasn’t been firing on all cylinders, either. He has continued to tinker with his equipment all week – a new driver lasted only one round, while his new 3-wood was replaced after 36 holes.

And while Mickelson’s third-round 66 was bettered only by Jimmy Walker’s 63, it was a scrambling effort after Lefty found just nine of 18 greens in regulation.

“I didn’t strike it as well as I have been striking it this year or even the first couple rounds,” he said. “But I was able to get up and down, miss it in the right spot and salvage a lot of pars on some difficult holes today.”

Mickelson also alluded to a plan to consult overnight with new swing coach Andrew Getson, an effort to fine-tune things that seemingly indicates just how critical he views this particular opportunity.

“I’m going to have Andrew come in tonight and see if we a get a little, just get sharp tomorrow,” he said. “I really want tomorrow to be a good day.”

Mickelson has said all week – really for much of the last month – that his game is close. That the offseason work he put in alongside Getson has yielded immediate dividends, and that he is ready and eager to once again go toe-to-toe with the game’s best.

But chances like this don’t come along often, even for a hall of famer whose fingerprints are already all over this particular piece of hardware.

“To head into tomorrow’s round at Pebble Beach with an opportunity is what I’ve been waiting for,” he said.

Striving to contend is all well and good, and regardless of the outcome this week, Mickelson will exit this four-event stretch with plenty of positives.

But make no mistake – the time has arrived for Mickelson to seal the deal. Considering the state of his game, considering his past history here and considering the competition he’s facing, anything short of a win will be a disappointment.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm