Blasting into the week ahead, from the Old Course to American tests at architectural works designed by Palmer and Nicklaus.
What is it with Phil Mickelson and the British Open?
Nobody has a good answer for his struggles there, including Mickelson himself, but the heavy winds loom as a factor.
Still, the talent is such that he’s right behind Tiger Woods in British bookmaking shops listing favorites this week. Tiger Woods is still favored with Ladbrokes having him at 6-to-1. Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are next, each at 16-to-1. Mickelson has just one top 10 in 16 British Open starts, but there’s some hope at St. Andrews, where Mickelson tied for 11th in 2000.
Bunker shot: Tiger Woods is considering ditching his putter this week? In some ways, that’s more shocking than news of a marital split. Woods has been loyal to his Scotty Cameron Newport putter since 1999, winning 13 of his 14 majors with it. He’s reported to be going with a Nike Method 001 putter to help him on St. Andrews slower greens. Woods hasn’t been putting well of late, but there’s no discernible difference in his stroke. It’s easy to imagine his once impenetrable focus hasn’t been there. When he gets that back, Woods will be back.
Mell’s picks: Winner – Tiger Woods. Contender – Justin Rose. Darkhorse – Francesco Molinari.
- Course: Old Course, St. Andrews. St. Andrews, Scotland. Par 72, 7,259 yards.
- Purse: $8.6 million (winner’s share, $1,221,005).
- TV times: Thursday-Friday, ESPN, 4 a.m.-3 p.m., replay 7-10 p.m.; Saturday, ESPN, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., replay 7-10 p.m.; Sunday, ESPN, 6 a.m.-1:30 p.m., replay 9 p.m.-midnight.
- Last year: Stewart Cink defeated Tom Watson in a playoff.
Reno Tahoe Open
With the world’s attention on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, there’s a class of players trying to re-establish themselves at Montreaux Golf & Country Club.
Stuart Appleby, Chad Campbell and Chris DiMarco are among veterans looking to add to their PGA Tour victory totals after dry spells. The trio has combined to win 15 PGA Tour events, none since ’07.
Bunker shot: Robert Garrigus gets another chance to rebound from that disappointing finish at the St. Jude Classic five weeks ago, when he blew a three-shot lead at the final hole. Garrigus will be making his fourth start since then. How’s he doing? Here’s the rundown: T68 at the Travelers, 67th at AT&T National and T65 at the John Deere Classic. The cruel facts of golf life are that he’ll be remembered for that collapse until he can erase it with something better.
Mell’s picks: Winner – Ryan Palmer. Contender – John Rollins. Darkhorse – Jeff Quinney.
- Course: Montreaux Golf & Country Club, Reno, Nev. Par 70, 6,759 yards (Designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1997).
- Purse: $3.5 million (winner’s share, $630,000).
- TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Sunday, 4-7 p.m., replays 1-4 a.m. for first three rounds, 1:30-4:30 a.m. for final round.
- Last year: John Rollins won his third PGA Tour title by three shots.
With Paul Goydos shooting 59 at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour last week, another low number didn’t get much attention. Peter Tomasulo’s 10-under 61 may not have broken golf’s magic barrier, but he posted his low score in the final round of the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic to come from eight shots back and win.
Bunker shot: Just $441 separate No. 1 Chris Kirk and No. 2 Kevin Chappell at the top of the Nationwide Tour money list. They’re both in this week’s event, a new tournament on the Nationwide Tour schedule. Does it really matter who finishes first with the top 25 all earning PGA Tour cards at year’s end? Yes. The leading money winner gets an exemption into The Players Championship next year and the lucrative payday offered there.
Mell’s picks: Winner – Jamie Lovemark. Contender – Kevin Chappell. Darkhorse – Darron Stiles.
- Course: TPC River’s Bend, Maineville, Ohio. Par 72, 7,180 yards (Designed by Arnold Palmer and opened in 2001).
- Purse: $550,000 (winner’s share, $99,000).
- TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Sunday, 2-4 p.m., replays 8-9:30 a.m. the following mornings.
- Last year: No tournament.