Mickelson Full of Major Confidence

By Associated PressApril 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson had his Masters week all figured out. He wanted to take a day off, sign some copies of his new book and ease into the defense of his first major championship.
Things didnt go exactly as planned. Mickelson spent a long Monday winning a golf tournament before making the two-hour drive down the freeway to Augusta National.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson works on his short game as he prepares for his title defense this week.
In previous years, that might have thrown him off. But Mickelson is playing with something different going into this Masters'the knowledge that he already has a green jacket.
It gives me some confidence and momentum going into this week, he said.
After struggling for years trying to win the major championship that always seemed to elude him, Mickelson returned to Augusta National with all the perks of being a champion, from the best parking spot to a reserved seat upstairs in the elite champions club.
He also returns with the memories of a magical Sunday when everything seemed to go right on a back nine that had been his downfall so many times before.
I didnt know what was going to happen, but I just really was enjoying the entire day. I enjoyed the entire back nine, Mickelson said. I was just enjoying the moment.
An outsider at this time last year when it came to judging the best players of the game, Mickelson is now a member of the coveted Big Four that also includes Ernie Els and fellow green jacket winners Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods.
He was able to dictate the menu for Tuesday nights champions dinner (lobster ravioli) and would like nothing better than to dictate the pace of this Masters.
Mickelson will do it with the let-it-all-hang-out style that he just cant seem to let go of.
Here at Augusta, I go at it as hard as I can, Mickelson said. I probably dont ever swing harder throughout the year than I do here at Augusta because it is a very long golf course and it is such an advantage to have shorter irons into these greens.
That advantage is one reason Mickelson and the other big hitters with pedigree loom large as favorites when the tournament begins Thursday.
Like Mickelson, Els, Singh and Woods will be swinging from the heels just so they have manageable second and third shots to the firm and excruciatingly fast greens that might be faster than ever this year.
The greens are as fast as Ive ever putted on them, Singh said. I just hope the rain doesnt come and mess that up.
Rain is forecast for Thursdays opening round, which could change the character of a course set up long and fast by the keepers of the green jacket.
If it doesnt rain, be prepared for balls bouncing over greens, putts rolling off greens and a lot of knee-knocking over 4-footers.
Those greens are going to be really fast and very firm, Els said. It will make accuracy into the greens really very important. Youll have to really hit your second shots very crisply. Youll have to come out of the fairways to make the balls stop on the greens.
The whole exercise will become tougher.
In the slick greens arent enough, this Masters has plenty of story lines.
Mickelson is back to defend the title some thought hed never win. He does it with the confidence that he came agonizingly close in the three other majors, with only five strokes separating him from the winners.
Singh brings the No. 1 ranking in the world and a Masters title from 2000, while Woods is showing signs he might be ready to dominate again.
Then theres Els, who was standing on the practice green last year when Mickelson handed him another heartbreaking loss by making the 18-footer for birdie on the 18th hole for the win.
I just heard the roar and I couldnt see that it was Phil, but after hearing the peoples applause and stuff, I knew it was Phil, Els said. I packed my stuff and got out of town.
Els doesnt mind being included among the Big Four, especially in a tournament that tends to reward the style of play shared by the quartet.
Hes the only one without a green jacket, but believes that could change with a bit of luck this week.
You know, Im going to be as positive as I can be coming into this week but Lady Luck needs to be on your side every now and again, Els said. You need to get lucky here and there, and hopefully it will happen this year.
Singh doesnt believe in luck as much. What he does believe is hes perfectly suited to the course, and has the confidence of holding the worlds top ranking he took from Woods last year.
Im pretty comfortable with the position Im in, Singh said. I should be, you know? I dont have any worries. Im enjoying my game right now. What can be better? Im here at the Masters, best player in the world right now and ready to go win another one.
Related Links:
  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

    VIRGINIA WATER, England - Rory McIlroy left his victory charge too late at Wentworth as Francesco Molinari delivered a clinic in front-running to win the BMW PGA Championship by two shots with a 4-under 68 on Sunday.

    McIlroy, who led by three shots at halfway, entered the final round tied for the lead with Molinari on 13 under par but a Sunday shootout at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

    Instead, as McIlroy toiled to a 70 that was propped up by birdies on the par fives at Nos. 17 and 18, Molinari went bogey-free for a second straight day to claim the fifth victory of his career and the biggest since a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in 2010.

    Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

    The Italian only dropped two shots all week and finished on 17-under 271, with McIlroy alone in second place. Alex Noren (67) and Lucas Bjerregaard (65) were tied for third place a stroke further back.

    Molinari moved into the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

    He'd previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Noren last year.

    Getty Images

    Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

    IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

    Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

    Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

    Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

    Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

    Getty Images

    Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

    By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

    Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

    Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

    And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    “The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

    Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

    Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

    Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

    Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

    “I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

    Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

    A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

    It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

    There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

    Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

    The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

    Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

    “I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

    Getty Images

    Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

    By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

    In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

    Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

    With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    "Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

    So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

    "I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.