Mickelson Prepared Ready to Move On

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship The leather-bound registry is called the 'Strangers Book,' an inch thick with weathered pages dating to 1980. The latest edition is in the clubhouse at Royal Liverpool for guests to sign when they play the storied links course.
Imagine what Ernie Els must have thought when he showed up to play 10 days after the U.S. Open.
On the line above the first empty space, dated June 26, was the signature of Phil Mickelson from San Diego.
'They asked me to come sign the club book, and I saw Phil's name there,' Els said Tuesday. 'And I was like, 'What's he ... is he playing today?' And they said, 'No, he was here two days ago.' And that kind of surprised me a little bit. He's played the course many times. That's the way he wants to prepare. He wants to see the course a million times.
Phil Mickelson and ave Pelz
Phil Mickelson and short game guru Dave Pelz have spent many hours discussing Royal Liverpool.
'That's his way right now.'
Mickelson was so eager to leave behind his debacle at Winged Foot - a double bogey on the 72nd hole that cost him the U.S. Open and a third straight major championship- that he showed up at Hoylake that next week to start preparing for the British Open.
He spent two days at Royal Liverpool, then returned last Thursday to play what amounts to a full tournament. He played four rounds, each of them taking a little more than eight hours as he studied every option off the tee, from the fairway, around the green. Mickelson played Sunday morning, then returned Sunday afternoon and played into the late twilight.
Asked how much they played, caddie Jim Mackay replied, 'You want rounds or hours?'
It is hard to argue with the results.
In the last 10 majors, Mickelson has won three times, was runner-up twice and has finished out of the top 10 only two times. It was in 2004, the start of his stellar streak, that he began studying courses as if he were cramming for a final exam, looking at every angle to see where he could take risks and when he should play it safe.
'I feel very confident in the way I've prepared for tournaments and the way I've been playing,' he said. 'I don't want to let one bad hole interfere with that, which is why I immediately altered my schedule to come over here. I know that my record hasn't been what I wanted it to be at the British Open, and I wanted to have those extra days to really work hard and see if I could bring my best golf out this week.'
That could be time well spent this year.
Royal Liverpool has not been part of the British Open rotation since 1967, before all but one player in the top 10 was born. It is a mystery that is slowly being unraveled this week, and even the conditions are somewhat foreign.
Britain is going through a heat wave, with the temperature pushing 90 degrees on Tuesday. The ground already is crusty and brown, and the ball is rolling forever.
'This is the driest links course we've ever come to on a Monday, Tuesday,' Colin Montgomerie said. 'Length, I don't think is an issue. Although it's 7,200-some yards on the card, it must be playing about 5,500 yards in real terms. It's just the control of the ball that has to be found.'
Tiger Woods showed up earlier than usual, arriving on the weekend, and he brought along an old friend, his 2-iron.
Woods recently replaced that with a 5-wood to get the ball up more quickly, but that's the last thing he needs at Hoylake. He hit 2-iron off just about every par 4 during his practice round Tuesday morning, a stinger that rolls endlessly along the brittle fairway.
'I like the feeling of trying to take advantage of the fast fairways and roll the ball out there,' Woods said. 'The 2-iron enables me to do that.'
Woods chose to navigate his way around the bunkers. Other players have thought about hammering tee shots over the bunkers, especially with the grass so dry that there isn't much rough for the ball to nestle.
Mickelson, naturally, has tried a little bit of everything.
He has found there are at least two ways, sometimes three, to play every hole. He says he has experienced wind from eight directions during his time at Hoylake, so he's not sure which one to expect. Even so, Hoylake is starting to feel like a home course.
'Part of learning the golf course is knowing where the balls will roll and funnel, and I've learned enough to know where the ball will end up, and be able to control it from there,' he said.
Mickelson didn't bother to see who else signed the 'Strangers Book' when he first arrived at Royal Liverpool, although flipping one page back would have revealed a certain Jack Nicklaus on May 16, playing the course as part of a corporate day for the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The book goes back only 26 years, too new to show names like Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen among past champions.
Still, Mickelson was soaking up history, walking up the stairs in the clubhouse to see a large portrait of Jones. This is where Jones won the second leg of his Grand Slam in 1930, when he won the British Amateur and British Open, then the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur.
'Having been part of Bobby Jones' Grand Slam is terrific and exciting, and having it be part of Peter Thomson's stretch of three British Opens in the '50s, I thought that was cool,' he said.
It might have caused him to wince, however.
Except for that double bogey at the U.S. Open, Mickelson might be going for his own version of the Grand Slam, a shot at his fourth straight.
But he's not about to look back.
Someone asked Mickelson if he felt he had anything to prove this week, and it was as close as Lefty comes to bristling.
'Why would you say that?' he said, his voice level.
The reporter mentioned how badly the U.S. Open ended, that perhaps Mickelson wanted to show that was an exception.
'There was a long time where I wasn't really proud of my performance in the majors,' Mickelson replied. 'But the last couple of years, I'm pretty proud of that. So again, one bad hole isn't going to change the way I look at that.'
Related Links:
  • Tee Times - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

    Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

    European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

    Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.

    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

    Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

    Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

    Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

    Getty Images

    Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

    Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

    Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

    ''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

    The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

    ''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

    Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.

    Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

    ''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

    Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

    ''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

    The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

    ''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

    The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

    Getty Images

    After Further Review: American success stories

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

    Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

    After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

    Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

    It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray

    On the resurgence of American women  ...

    American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

    The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

    Getty Images

    In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

    By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

    Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.




    Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

    “I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

    Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

    It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

    “I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

    “I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

    Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

    “Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

    Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.

    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

    “I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

    Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

    This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

    Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

    Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

    Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

    Kang did.

    “Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

    Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

    “I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

    “More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. 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.”