Phil Mickelson returns to action this week looking for his 33rd career PGA TOUR victory. With how many will he end his career (including majors)?
Brian Hewitt - Columnist, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
Fifty PGA TOUR wins and five majors. He will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He will be viewed as one of the five or six most naturally-gifted players who ever lived. He will be looked upon by many golf historians as an underachiever. Others will point out he made the mistake of living in the time of Tiger Woods. Phil had no choice.
Steve Sands - Reporter, GOLF CHANNEL:
I think Phil still has a lot of winning left to do. Mickelson will end up winning 54 PGA TOUR events, including seven major championships before he wraps it up for good.
Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
At age 37, Mickelson probaly has up to 10 productive-to-fairly productive seasons remaining. I don't think he'll reach 50 total TOUR wins, probably falling short by two or three. In the majors department, I think he can win two or three more. I'll give him six ... max.
Ian Hutchinson - Contrib. Writer, GOLFCHANNEL.com:
Hes still three years away from his 40th birthday, so barring injuries, I dont see why Mickelson cant hit 50, which will put him in some impressive company on the all-time list. Phil has always been capable of winning on TOUR, but his major record is what people will point to once things are said and done. He isnt the best player never to win a major anymore, but majors are what the truly great players are measured by, especially since he played in the Tiger era.
With her 2007 playing season over, how would you advise Michelle Wie for 2008?
Take a year off from golf. Convince your parents to go back to Hawaii and let you be a college kid. I might even consider starting to work with Butch Harmon. Las Vegas, where Harmon teaches, is a short plane ride from Stanford where Michelle goes to school.
I would advise Michelle to have a great freshman year at Stanford and not worry about golf for a while. Enjoy your time as a college student. Dont be tempted by sponsor exemptions, especially on the PGA TOUR. Play select events on the LPGA Tour. Try to qualify for the majors. But more than anything, be a kid. Have fun, hangout with friends, study hard, skip class, learn how to be on your own, etc. In other words, do what almost everyone else does when theyre 18 and in college.
It would be nice if she could sit back for a while and be a kid, but she's getting paid to be a professional golfer. Unless she is willing to void some money (and I don't think her parents are for that plan), she needs to make sure that she works diligently on her game. I hope she has fun and enjoys her college experience (which would be easier to do if she could get her parents to stay in Hawaii), but she must work to improve her game and then play a limited schedule -- of only LPGA events -- in 2008.
Dont try to force anything. Be what youre supposed to be at this point in your life. Be Michelle Wie the person and not Michelle Wie the golfer and everything will fall into place naturally. Hopefully, the people around her have gotten that message, too. Nobody outside of that group is trying to put pressure on her. In fact, most people would hate to see such a talent destroyed by undue pressure she isn't ready for at such a young age.
The LPGA is playing the second of six straight limited-field events to close their season. Is that unfair to those trying to earn their cards for 2008?
Hard to be critical of the LPGA these days. To anybody, male or female, unhappy with the obstacles of getting a tour card, I say this: Play better.
No. Play better.
It seems a little excessive. I could understand two or three near the end of the season, but six straight? While there isn't nearly as much public interest in LPGA players trying to keep their cards as there is PGA TOUR players (do you know the exempt number on the LPGA money list?), I'd still rather see a few more full-field events on the schedule leading up to the ADT Championship.
Its unfortunate for those on the bubble because theres a very small window of opportunity during the season in which to establish momentum. However, the same can be said for everybody in that situation so its fair across the board. The first priority is the tour itself and golf fans want to see the bigger names as much as possible and so do sponsors. I havent seen a great deal of excitement about the PGA TOURs Fall Series. With most big names in hibernation now, its a noticeable contrast between now and the weeks leading up to the Presidents Cup.
How much will Ernie Els victory at the HSBC World Match Play help him in terms of winning on the PGA TOUR and possibly a major next year?
I think Els, who turns 38 Wednesday, is poised, along with Mickelson, to take a good run at Tiger Woods in 2008. Els has quietly crept back up to No. 4 in the world. He was spectacular last week at the HSBC Match Play at Wentworth. And he was one of only two players'Woody Austin was the other'to extend Woods in any serious way Sunday at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in August.
Im not sure it will help. Ernie needs to get that winning feeling again in a stroke-play event. Its been far too long for one of the games great talents. Once he gets another victory under his belt I think itll be back to normal for Els.
It will certainly help his confidence right now, but since he's not planning on playing a PGA TOUR event until a few months into the 2008 season, this win will mean very little as he preps for the Masters.
Hes won seven of them so far and, as great as it is to win an event like that, it hasnt been a magic potion for him. Theres a lot of time between now and the Masters.