Mickelson Grabs Share of US Open Lead

By Associated PressJune 17, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- The yardage book Phil Mickelson keeps in his pocket is filled with copious notes from nearly a dozen practice rounds at Winged Foot that have prepared him for this U.S. Open.
The way he surged into a share of the lead Saturday, it looked like he borrowed a page from Tiger Woods, the man he's trying to catch in the record book.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has his sights set on a third straight major championship.
One by one, the leaders collapsed in a series of miscues that sent them tumbling down the leaderboard. Mickelson marched along with his best golf of the tournament, hitting the last five fairways and giving himself a birdie putt on the last eight holes.
And when a torturous day at Winged Foot was in the books, Mickelson shot a 1-under 69 and was on the verge of joining Woods in a small chapter of golf history as the only players to win three straight majors on the schedule.
All that stands in the way is 18 holes and an unheralded Englishman, Kenneth Ferrie, whose three-putt bogey from the fringe on the 18th hole gave him a 71 and dropped him into a tie with Mickelson at 2-over 212, the seventh time in the last 11 rounds at a major that Lefty was atop the leaderboard.

Woods, of course, can't do anything about it because he missed the cut.
Mickelson sat next to the U.S. Open trophy in a television interview. It was close enough to touch, but he kept his hands to himself.
'I've got one round to go, 18 holes, and there's a lot of guys right there, a lot of good players that are making pars and fighting, just like I'm trying to do,' Mickelson said. 'I'm not thinking about those past tournaments. I'm trying to just play one more good round.'
It was the first time the 54-hole lead was over par at the U.S. Open since 1974, known as the 'Massacre of Winged Foot,' when Tom Watson led at 3-over 213 and Hale Irwin wound up winning at 7-over 287. That was the year Winged Foot got its reputation as one wicked test of golf, and it sure lived up its reputation on this steamy Saturday.
'One time a year, we get tested like this. And I love it,' Mickelson said. 'I love being tested at the highest level of the most difficult and sometimes ridiculous golf course setups we'll ever see. I love it because I get to find out where my game is at, where my head is at, and it really challenges me as a player.'
As for the challengers on the course?
Ferrie is a 37-year-old playing only his fourth major, and his first U.S. Open. He was surprisingly steady except for a flew blips on the back nine, when he took bogey from the bunker on the par-3 13th and ran his birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th some 6 feet past the hole, missing the par attempt badly.
'I just heard Phil saying that it's kind of the biggest test in golf of every part of your game,' Ferrie said. 'So far I've ... I wouldn't say passed yet, but I'm well on my way to getting a decent grade.'
Geoff Ogilvy of Australia, who won the Accenture Match Play Championship in February, made two straight bogeys on the back to wreck an otherwise solid round, finishing with a 2-over 72 that left him one shot out of the lead.
The group at 5-over 215 all had their moments, good and bad.
-- Three-time major winner Vijay Singh had to scramble for bogey on the 13th and holed a 30-foot par putt late to secure a 70.
-- Ian Poulter of England had a chip roll back to his feet from short of the 18th, making bogey to spoil his round of 70. He only has three shots to make up, far less daunting than last year's British Open, when he started the last round nine shots behind Woods and made up only one.
'I'm knocking on the door, and I feel very, very happy,' Poulter said.
-- Steve Stricker held on to his tenuous lead for eight holes until he started missing fairways and limped home to a 76.
-- Colin Montgomerie dropped five shots on his first four holes, then steadied himself for a 75 that kept alive faint hopes of a first major championship.
'That was a disaster,' Monty said of his start. 'Five over to finish was a hell of an effort. I pat myself on the back tonight. The last 14 holes were good.'
The last hole was awful for Padraig Harrington.
The Irishman needed a birdie to catch Mickelson, but made a mess of it. He barely made contact out of the deep rough, moving the ball only about 15 yards into the fairway. Once he got out of a greenside bunker, he three-putted for a triple bogey that sent him spiraling down the leaderboard with a 74, in the group at 6-over 216 with Mike Weir (71) and Jim Furyk (74).
Weir hit what he thought was his best shot on the 18th, only to see it roll off the green and into a bunker. From there, he blasted over the green and couldn't get up and down, ending with a double bogey.
Mickelson was immune to such struggles on the back nine.
He holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole and a slippery 15-footer on the 16th that sent the New York gallery into a frenzy, one of the few times all day they had reason to unleash their unbridled support of their beloved Lefty. Mickelson's 10-foot birdie try on the 18th ran 5 feet by the cup, but he made that for par and walked off the green with a tip of the cap.

Ten players were separated by four shots, with four of them having won majors. But the focus is squarely on Mickelson.
'Somebody told me today on the course I was 'the man,'' Ferrie said. 'I guess Phil is a bigger man.'
New Yorkers fell in love with Lefty at Bethpage Black when he was a sympathetic figure in a losing battle with Woods at the 2002 U.S. Open. He broke their hearts two years later at Shinnecock Hills, tied for the lead until a double bogey on the 71st hole. Even after his breakthrough at the 2004 Masters, the connection between Mickelson and New York was strong.
Now, he has a chance to give them something to really cheer.
'He's got the opportunity of doing what Tiger did, winning three majors in a row,' Montgomerie said. 'That's a big feat.'
Mickelson climbed into the lead the way Woods has done so many times, and he credits his play to having studied Winged Foot as if he were cramming for a major exam.
'I have notes on every shot, from drive to iron to putt to chip,' Mickelson said. 'Knowing where I can and can't go and how the slopes can help me or hurt me, that's allowed me to hang in there and make par, par, par and occasionally birdie.'
It has put him atop the leaderboard with one round to go, and Woods nowhere to be found except in the record books.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

    Getty Images

    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

    Getty Images

    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).

    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

    Getty Images

    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    But the also comment fits the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it'll be fatigue, maybe it'll be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is  too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”