AND....EXHALE....: Phil Mickelson rolled in a 9-foot birdie putt on the final hole to edge Tim Clark and Rod Pampling to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Mickelson has now won at both of Hogan's Alley's - Riviera and Colonial – this season.
It might be a stretch to say this was Phil's wildest win ever, but not by much. And only watching the event live on TV can do it justice - Phil standing on the 18th tied for the lead; Phil going all 'Winged Foot' on everybody and blasting his tee shot waaaaay left; Phil standing practically in a forest trying to figure out if he even had a chance to advance his approach shot toward the green; Phil going into full 'Phil the Thrill' mode and hitting a near miracle shot to within 10 feet of the cup; Phil draining the birdie putt to close out the tournament in a fashion that would make Houdini proud; a Phil-fanatic going nuts with excitement jumping into the 18th's greenside pond. In just one hole, Mickelson summed up his golfing career. It was even better than those Mickelson Crowne Plaza commercials.
SEE YOU AT TORREY: Tiger Woods will not return to action until the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Woods, still rehabilitating after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, will return to action for the second major of the year after an eight-week break..
The last time Tiger had such a layoff was two years ago when he sat out nine weeks while dealing with the death of his father Earl. Woods went on to miss the cut in a major for the first time as a professional in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. We don’t mean to suggest that Tiger will miss the cut, but to play your first competitive golf in two months at a U.S. Open is going to be tough. Then again, it’s not like Woods hasn’t surprised us before.
B-R-U-T-A-L: Jay Haas won the Senior PGA Championship by a stroke over Bernhard Langer to win the Champions Tour's first major of the season. Haas' four-round 7-over total marked one of the highest winning scores in the history of the tour.
Talk about brutal. Although the media guide will forever state Haas as the victor, it was famed Oak Hill that seemed to come out on top. The 36-hole cut line was a staggering 12 over. And by the end of the tournament not only didn’t a single player come close to even breaking par, but only a handful were able to keep it to single digits over par. So hats off to Haas who - how shall we say this? - got beat up less than the rest of the field.
DOES ANYONE HAVE A LIGHTER?: Miguel Angel Jimenez emerged from a two-hole playoff with Oliver Wilson to win the BMW PGA Championship in England. It was the Spaniard's 15th career European Tour title and makes him almost a lock for this year's Ryder Cup team.
Jimenez, perhaps known better for that famous ponytail and his cigar chomping, should also be recognized as a model of consistency. Only once in the past 10 years has he not finished in the top-20 in the European Tour's Order of Merit list. And with his big win at Wentworth, he now sits atop the money list, ahead of the likes of Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Trevor Immelman. Enjoy that victory cigar Miguel!
FEEL THE PRESSURE: Leta Lindley birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat Jeong Jang and win the Corning Classic. Lindley shot a 5-under 67 in the final round to grab her first career victory in 296 starts.
The story, however, may have been what happened to 54-hole leader Erica Blasberg, who had put herself into position to scoop up her first win, only to collapse in the final round with a 7-over 79 to finish in a tie for 37th. Blasberg, who was listed on GOLF CHANNEL’s show of Top 10 sexiest golfers, will now still have to fight off the style-over-substance arguments, fair or not. Maybe she can start asking Natalie Gulbis how to deal with – and overcome – such questions.
RULES ARE RULES?: Lorena Ochoa was fined $25,000 for not being in the field for this past week's Corning Classic in New York. The LPGA Tour has what they call the “1-in-4” rule, in which each player must compete in every event on the tour's schedule at least once every four years.
Ochoa, who last played in the Corning in 2004, was a victim of a good rule gone bad. Simply put, Ochoa became the victim because of her own incredible play and winning percentage. The world No. 1 not only has eight title defenses on her schedule this year, but the four majors and two events in Mexico as well. There are only so many places Ochoa can be throughout the year without her game suffering from burnout and fatigue.
STAGE FRIGHT: The European Tour announced last week that they will start random drug testing beginning in July. The R&A won’t, however, have testing at this year’s British Open at Royal Birkdale.
In an era in which sports have been forced to go down this road, it is methodically starting to include the world of golf. Often trumpeted as a gentleman's game - a game where players call penalties on themselves - a not so gentlemanly pee cup will become part of the process. Almost all players have stated that they believe the sport is still squeaky clean; it is now becoming just a matter of time to see if their beliefs will be backed up by the drug testing. And one can just imagine the glare Tiger will give the guy who first hands him a cup.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Southern California won the NCAA women’s golf championship, edging cross-town rival UCLA by six strokes, while Arizona State’s Azahara Munoz won the individual honors; Jeff Klauk birdied the 72nd hole in regulation to win the Nationwide Tour's Melwood Prince George's County Open in Maryland.
USC's victory snapped an incredible run by the Duke Lady Blue Devils, who had won three straight NCAA women's titles; Klauk, whose victory all but assures him of earning his PGA TOUR card for the 2009 season, summed up the thought succinctly, "It's been a dream my whole life."
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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