Family, business for Mickelson as busy stretch begins

By Associated PressJuly 27, 2011, 7:43 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – Phil Mickelson’s initial impressions of West Virginia’s Greenbrier resort were about all things family.

A relaxed Mickelson was as eager to list the activities for his wife, Amy, and three children, as he was about taking on the retooled Old White TPC at the Greenbrier Classic beginning Thursday.

For starters, there was laser tag, climbing a wooden tower and maneuvering on a giant swing 45 feet in the air. There also were plans to interact with trained falcons and go white-water rafting.

“It’s an amazing place,” Mickelson said. “I can’t get over all the fun things that they have to do. My daughters are excited about the falconry. I don’t know where in the world you can do that.

“The golf is a bonus.”

Rather than take an extra week off, Mickelson is one of just two golfers among the top 20 in the world entered in the Greenbrier Classic, with Retief Goosen being the other.

It makes for a tough schedule that also will take Mickelson to next week’s Bridgestone Invitational five hours to the north in Akron, Ohio, followed by the PGA Championship in Atlanta, then the grueling FedEx Cup playoffs.

So far, having the loved ones along made the early part of the week seem a bit more like a vacation.

“To have an environment here that’s so family friendly, it makes it easy,” Mickelson said Wednesday.

Coming off a tie for second at the British Open, Mickelson can take over the FedEx Cup points lead with a win at the Greenbrier Classic. He’s currently fourth. Webb Simpson, at No. 9, is the only other golfer in the field in the top 10.

“I had a good tournament there at the British and I felt like I turned the corner,” Mickelson said. “I’m starting to put things together slowly, be a little bit more patient, enjoy my time on the course and be more creative hitting shots again. I’m excited about this next three-week stretch.”

Mickelson’s only impressions of the par-70 Old White before this week were from television, watching Stuart Appleby shoot 59 to win last year’s inaugural tournament at 22 under, a stroke better than Jeff Overton.

Mickelson will be in the same group as Appleby and Greenbrier pro emeritus Tom Watson for the first two rounds and plans to pay particular attention to the defending champion.

“I’ll probably watch a little bit how he plays this course,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson was paired in a pro-am Wednesday with Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, who made it one of his missions to lure Mickelson to this event.

“I like old-style golf courses,” Mickelson said. “I like courses that are fun to play, courses that you can make birdies, you can be aggressive on, you can recover if you make a mistake. And this course seems to suit that.”

It’s just not suitable for 59s anymore. The Old White has undergone significant changes since last year.

Fairways have been narrowed, bunkers have been added and the 97-year-old course has been lengthened more than 200 yards. A lake on No. 16 was expanded. The greens were reseeded with bentgrass and should be firmer and faster.

“It’s got to be, I think, between three and four shots harder than what it was for us Saturday and Sunday last year compared to today,” Appleby said. “You know, anyone shooting in the mid-teens I think would be a very good score.”

Especially for Appleby, who’s in another slump.

He’s missed nine cuts in his last 12 tournaments, was disqualified from the AT&T National for signing an incorrect scorecard and withdrew from the St. Jude’s Classic after shooting 8 over in the first round.

But he entered last year’s Greenbrier Classic in a slide too: he hadn’t won since 2006.

“You know, at this time last year, I was also very frustrated,” Appleby said. “The game works in weird ways.”

Watson missed last year’s tournament in order to compete in the U.S. Senior Open. He’s entered this year and joked that, given the course’s makeover, he’d like to play from the seniors’ tees.

“There’s not going to be any 59s shot,” Watson said. “The greens are a lot firmer. The ball is not going to stop. It’s going to take a lot of skill to get the ball close to the flag positions on these greens. It’s like playing the links greens where they really are hard and they release.”

Notes: The top 50 in the world rankings will earn exemptions into Bridgestone next week. Among those entered in the Greenbrier Classic and fighting for automatic spots are Ryan Palmer, who is 52nd and was the runner-up to Hunter Mahan at Bridgestone last year, and Webb Simpson at No. 53. Jonathan Byrd, at No. 50, also is entered. … Like Appleby last year, the winner of The Greenbrier Classic also will make the Bridgestone field if he hasn’t previously qualified. … The winner of the Greenbrier Classic will receive $1.08 million. It’s the final event for the top 70 on the PGA Tour money list to earn spots in the PGA Championship. The Greenbrier winner also earns an automatic exemption to the PGA Championship if he hadn’t already qualified. Among those still looking to get in are Jimmy Walker at No. 72 and Carl Pettersson at No. 73.

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Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

“I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

“I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

“A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

“My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

“I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

“As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.