Mickelson fails to seize moment again

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Six feet. Six little feet. A testy putt, to be sure, but one that defines the legacy of a player such as Phil Mickelson.
 
Besides, this is what Lefty had longed for: a chance to seize the moment at the Ryder Cup, a chance to give the Americans a crucial boost going to the final day of an event they havent won since 1999.
 
This is surely what U.S. captain Paul Azinger had in mind when he sent Mickelson back to the course in the afternoon, even after his dream pairing with Anthony Kim squandered the closest thing to a sure win in the morning.
 
So, Mickelson studied the putt at the 17th hole from every angle, took a couple of swings just for practice, then settled over the ball.
 
He drew his club back, and swung it forward. The ball was on its way.
 
Right by the cup.
 
After a day of seeming redemption, Mickelsons shaky Ryder Cup history bubbled back to the surface Saturday. He and Kim, probably the most talented American tandem, tossed away a 4-up lead after six holes in an alternate-shot match against Henrik Stenson and unheralded Oliver Wilson, whom the Europeans didnt even bother to use on the opening day.
 
Then, Mickelson missed that short birdie putt, which would have broken a tie going to the final hole. He wasnt much help on the 18th, either, knocking his tee shot into a bunker, putting his second shot on the side of a hill and then making a tentative chip.
 
It was left to Hunter Mahan to bail the Americans out. He made the birdie at No. 18 and the Americans escaped with a half-point in their match against Stenson and Robert Karlsson. The home team goes to the final day with a 9-7 lead, but it might have been bigger with more of a contribution from Mickelson.
 
It was a very emotional and up-and-down day, Lefty conceded. But we fought hard all day, and Hunter and I hung in there. Obviously we wanted to win. We had opportunities for that.
 
Paired with Kim for an alternate-shot match, Mickelson sure had plenty of chances to win. Heck, it looked over when a par at No. 6 gave the Americans a commanding four-hole cushion.
 
But Mickelson and Kim quickly handed it back, losing four of the next six holes. Then, after another errant drive by Lefty at No. 15 and an unnecessarily bold shot by Kim around a tree, off a European official and into a creek, the Europeans were ahead to stay.
 
Wilson sank a 30-foot birdie at No. 17 to put the pressure on Mickelson. He missed a 20-footer to keep the match going. Kim, watching with his hands on his knee, nearly crumpled to the ground.
 
We had some momentum, Mickelson said. Unfortunately, a couple of bad shots by us, and we ended up squandering a lead. We still fought hard. It looked like we were going to bring that thing down to the end until that long putt.
 
And what about Mickelsons putt at that same hole a few hours later, after U.S. captain Paul Azinger shook up his pairings to put his highest-ranked player with Hunter Mahan?
 
I kept reading more and more break as I got over it, Mickelson said. I didnt want to jam it in, and I just overplayed the break. It wasnt that hard, but it was about three or four inches out, and I overplayed it just a touch.
 
In all fairness, the Americans ran into an extremely hot player. Karlsson made six birdies in seven holes, including four in a row, to erase a 2-up lead for Mickelson and Mahan. Fortunately for the U.S., the Swede missed a downhill 12-footer for eagle at the 18th that would have given Europe a full point.
 
Both sides settled for a hard-earned halve.
 
Mickelson, who was 1-7-1 in the two previous Ryder Cups, is now 1-1-2 at Valhalla, accounting for more points in the bluegrass state than he managed at Oakland Hills and the K Club combined.
 
Still, there are doubts about his state of mind heading into singles play on Sunday. Mickelson will be in the fourth group out, facing Justin Rose and seeking his first singles win since 1999.
 
In 2002, he lost a pivotal match to Phillip Price, ranked 119th in the world at the time, at the Belfry. He was beaten by a pair of Spaniards, Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal, in the European routs of 04 and 06.
 
Azinger insisted theres no concern about Mickelson falling short again.
 
Im not worried about Mickelsons mind-set at all, the captain told reporters late Saturday. My message all week long to you guys is anything that happened in the past is in the past and has no bearing on whats going on.
 
Azingers only advice to Mickelson will be of a dietary nature. Lefty apparently went through quite a spread before his loss to Price six years ago.
 
I hope its not three waffles, two eggs and a Diet Coke, Azinger said. I heckled him about that already.
 
Mickelson was paired with Kim for two matches Friday ' at Leftys request ' and the duo worked beautifully together, high-fiving each other all the way around the course. Twice, they rallied from three-hole deficits, pulling out a halve against Padraig Harrington and Karlsson and winning 2-up over Harrington and Graeme McDowell.
 
Saturday morning, the tables turned.
 
Naturally, Mickelson was eager to get back on the course, and Azinger obliged. Justin Leonard, who putted brilliantly in his match to help earn a half-point, might have been the better choice. But he, too, knew Lefty was eager for redemption after helping blow such a big lead.
 
You certainly wouldnt think those guys would lose that match, Leonard said. I think thats one of the reasons Phil wanted to go back out, because thats going to leave a bad taste is his mouth.
 
He can only hope its not there Sunday night.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day

    By Jay CoffinApril 26, 2018, 7:51 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.

    My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for GolfChannel.com.

    Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:

    By BRADY COFFIN

    My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.

    My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.

    I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.

    At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.

    He loves working at Golf Channel.

    “It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.

    (P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)

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    Not the 'prettiest' 65, but Duval, Furyk will take it

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 7:44 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – Wearing a polo instead of a dress shirt, working with a caddie and not a producer, David Duval exited the scoring tent, walked toward the group of reporters waiting for him after their 65 and grumbled to teammate Jim Furyk, “The damn media.”

    Duval was joking – we think – since he now is one of us on the dark side, a successful and respected TV analyst, after an injury-shortened career in which he battled Tiger Woods, rose to world No. 1, won a major and then experienced such a miserable slump that it drove him into an entirely new line of work.

    Now 46, Duval doesn’t play much anymore, only 11 events in the past four years. His last made cut was in July 2015. Earlier this year, he teed it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but only because he and his wife, Susie, enjoy the vibe there. Competitively, he knew he didn’t stand a chance. He had moved back to Colorado, worked two out of the three weeks, and then couldn’t practice the other week because the weather didn’t cooperate. Not surprisingly, he shot three consecutive rounds of 76 or worse.

    And that could have been the extent of his season (save for his annual appearance at The Open), but he was drawn to the idea of the team format at the Zurich, to the idea of playing with Jim Furyk, with whom he’s been friends for the past 32 years, dating to their days in junior golf. So Duval reached out, asking the U.S. Ryder Cup captain if he wanted to team up, for old times’ sake.

    “This was about being with a friend, reuniting, having our wives together for a few days,” said Duval, who estimated that he’s played more than 100 practice rounds with Furyk over the years. “Expectation-wise, I don’t know what they are for me. I don’t get to participate out here and compete.”


    Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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    But Duval took this start seriously. He almost never travels with his clubs, but he brought them to the Masters, working with his old coach, Puggy Blackmon, between TV appearances and bouncing between Augusta Country Club and Augusta University’s practice facility.

    Without any on-camera work since then, he’s spent the past two weeks grinding, even bringing Blackmon to New Orleans for a range session, just like most of the other pros in the field.

    “It’s like a normal preparation,” he said. “Maybe not as much as it would be for a typical player, but a lot more than I’ve been able to do in the past.”

    Duval has no intentions of diving back into competitive golf full-time, but working as an analyst has given him a new perspective on the game he loves.

    “When you don’t play a lot and you don’t have that opportunity, you feel like you have to play perfectly,” he said. “Being on the other side of the desk, you see how many crappy golf shots really, truly get hit, and it’s like, look, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to hit more good ones than bad ones and go from there.”

    That also sums up his and Furyk’s opening round here at the Zurich.

    Furyk joked before the event that they’re the rustiest team in the field, but playing best ball, they remained steady in a driving rainstorm, then ran off seven birdies to shoot 65 and sit in the top 10 when they finished their round.

    “It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest,” Duval said, “but it was solid. It wasn’t like we had 36 looks at birdie.”

    “We ham-and-egged it really good today,” Furyk added. “We got pretty much one of the best scores we could have out of the round.”

    The second round could be a different story, of course, with alternate shot. It’s a more nerve-wracking format – especially for two aging warriors without many competitive reps this year – and they figure to find some unusual parts of TPC Louisiana.

    But that’s a worry for Friday, because Duval was in the mood to savor his four birdies, his team score of 65 and his ideal start to a work week with his longtime friend.

    “I think it was good,” he said, breaking into a wry smile, “especially for me.”

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    Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 6:24 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.

    Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.

    Finau still isn’t 100 percent – he said he's closer to 70 percent – even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.


    Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


    “Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said. “There is not a lot of thoughts in my swing in the first place, so there can’t be that many thoughts when you don’t practice. It served me well today.”

    Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.

    Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”  

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    Woods commits to Wells Fargo and The Players

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

    Tiger Woods will tee it up each of the next two weeks, having officially committed to both the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

    Woods' commitment to next week's event in Charlotte was confirmed by multiple Golf Channel sources and first reported during Thursday's "Golf Central."

    The 42-year-old later took to Twitter to formally announce that he is ready for another back-to-back stretch:

    Woods has not played since a T-32 finish earlier this month at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.

    Woods' return to The Players will mark his first trip to TPC Sawgrass since 2015. He won on the Stadium Course in both 2001 and 2013. This will be Woods' second back-to-back of the season, having missed the cut at the Genesis Open before finishing 12th the following week at the Honda Classic.

    After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.