Harrington Mickelson hope to lead by example

By Associated PressSeptember 18, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Call them the reluctant leaders of this Ryder Cup.
For the Americans, Phil Mickelson. For the Europeans, Padraig Harrington.
Both are three-time major champions ' heck, Harrington has won the last two, his victories in the British Open and PGA Championship making him the hottest player on the planet, at least until Tiger Woods recovers from knee surgery.
Just dont look for either of these guys to provide stirring words or wear their emotions on their sleeves at Valhalla Golf Club.
Hopefully Ill lead by example this week and by approaching the game the right way, Harrington said. Not allowing myself to get too high or too low in the course of matches.
Win one for the Gipper, thats not.
On an American team that has six rookies but no Woods, Mickelson would seem the logical candidate to carry the red, white and blue load into golfs grandest team event.
But Lefty took a pass on any sort of leadership role. Instead, he deferred to U.S. captain Paul Azinger, who wont swing the club at all this weekend.
My only responsibility is to play well, Mickelson said. I think Captain Azinger has been a wonderful leader for us. Hes been a great captain and given us great direction.
Wheres Monty when you need him?
Colin Montgomerie was the type of guy who thrived in this format, for reasons that still seem a bit fuzzy. The shots that befuddled him in his fruitless pursuit of a major title always seemed to go right when the Ryder Cup was on the line. Teammates that found him persnickety and pompous in the week-to-week grind of tournament play rallied around him when they were all working toward the same goal.
But Montgomerie wasnt chosen for this European team, which leaves Sergio Garcia as the most likely emotional leader for the defending champs.
Thats just fine with Harrington.
I dont get the highs and lows that maybe other guys get, he said. I tend to keep it nice and solid and consistent.
Harringtons Ryder Cup record is rather unimpressive (7-8-2) but he did come through big time for the Europeans in 2004. Paired with Montgomerie in the first match at Oakland Hills, they took on the American dream team of Woods and Mickelson.
When Mickelson pushed his drive at No. 18 up against a fence, the Europeans finished off an upset that set the tone for the entire match. The visitors romped to their biggest win ever on American soil, and matched their margin two years ago at the K Club in Harringtons homeland.
Mickelsons Ryder Cup record is even worse than Harringtons (9-12-4). Even so, he claims to relish the experience as he heads into his seventh appearance.
The week becomes a week where friendships are formed and memories occur that last a lifetime, he said. When youre playing in them, you dont realize thats the case, but now that Ive played in six ' this is my seventh Ryder Cup ' I look back at all my previous ones. Even though weve lost, weve had so many great memories from those weeks. Thats what I look forward to the most, getting to know the guys and hanging out with all the guys and having a fun week.
Mickelson considers the Americans a clear underdog, even with the home-course advantage.
I dont feel theres a question about that, he said. But it doesnt mean we cant come out and play well, with the help of the crowd and with a golf course thats very well suited for many of our players, have a great week and possibly come out on top.
For those who think the Americans are lugging too much emotional baggage, having lost five of the last six matches to Europe, including three straight, Mickelson points to a more impressive record in golfs other major team event, the Presidents Cup.
Facing the rest of the world in alternate years, the U.S. has lost once in seven matches.
I feel like the Presidents Cup has given us team competitions, team experiences, that weve done very well and succeeded in, Mickelson said. I dont know why we havent been able to play at the same level in the Ryder Cup.
Harrington is hoping to put the finishing touches on a magical season. After Woods won the U.S. Open, then headed off to have surgery on an ailing knee, the Irishman stepped in to fill the void as the worlds top player.
First, he defended his title at the British. Then, a follow-up in the PGA Championship. Over the last six majors, hes won half the time.
It would be fair to say Im a late bloomer and Im coming into the prime of my career at 37 years of age, he said. Ive been more focused on going out there and winning major tournaments by giving myself a chance in a number of them. I do expect to be there in the future and win some more.
As for his more immediate plans, Harrington expects to be paired up in at least one of his Ryder Cup matches with Graeme McDowell. The first-day pairings will be revealed Thursday night at the opening ceremony, though European captain Nick Faldo might have tipped his hand a bit when a British photographer caught his notebook jottings with a zoom lens.
Faldo had the initials RK and PH listed together, which would indicate hes considering matching Robert Karlsson with Harrington.
I dont think it would take any genius to figure out that I will play with the other Irishman on the team at some stage this week, Harrington said. When and where it happens is not clear as of yet. But Graeme is playing really nice golf and I will be keen to tee it up with him at some stage and get out there and play. Hes a really solid player and it looks like his mind is right and hes ready to go this week.
With Woods watching from home, does Harrington feel like hes become the sort of player that rivals fear?
I would expect that guys, if they tee is up against me, will believe they are in for a tough game, Harrington said. I dont think guys are scared, no.
The Americans once had players such as Lanny Wadkins and Raymond Floyd, whose emotional play would fire up their teammates in the Ryder Cup.
But now, they are struggling to find someone who can take over their leadership role that, even for Woods, never seemed to come comfortably.
Dont expect Mickelson to take it on now.
Related Links:
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  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

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    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”