Mickelson second again but with perspective

By Associated PressJune 22, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' There was no smile, just a look of resignation as Phil Mickelson trudged wearily up the muddy slope off the 18th green. He was finally finished in a U.S. Open that seemed like it would never end, and the shouts of support coming from the bleachers were never going to mask the realization that another chance had slipped away.
Mickelson had somehow found yet another way to lose the one tournament he wants so desperately to win. He would leave without the trophy his ailing wife wanted him to bring home.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson comes up short once again in his bid for his first U.S. Open championship. (Getty Images)
He knew this role well, having played it five times now, more than any other golfer in U.S. Open history. That didnt make it any easier, but this time it would be different.
It had to be, because now there was some perspective. Now he understood that there are heartbreaking losses and, well, just plain heartbreak.
Certainly Im disappointed, Mickelson said. But now that its over, Ive got more important things going on.
All of New York, it seemed, was rooting him on, because all of them knew what those more important things are.
Amy Mickelson will undergo exploratory surgery for breast cancer on July 1, and Mickelson will be gone from golf for a while. The perfect way to leave would have been as the Open champion, and for a time Monday it looked like he would finally break through and do just that.
He came from five back to tie for the lead with an eagle on the 13th hole that sent the crowd into a frenzy. It seemed like he was destined to win, destined to turn a long and sometimes miserable U.S. Open into one we might never forget.
A few holes behind, Lucas Glover heard the noise and knew what it meant.
I guess its like what they used to say at Augusta; you could hear a `Jack roar at Augusta, Glover said. You can hear a `Phil roar. I knew something was going on.
Unfortunately for Mickelson, it didnt go on long. His old nemesis ' the missed 3-footer ' cost him a bogey two holes later and his chances pretty much evaporated when he couldnt get up-and-down from just short of the green on the par-3 17th.
He would tie David Duval and Ricky Barnes for second, two strokes back. That usually gets a consolation prize of a silver medal, but the USGA had only one to split between the three of them ' and Mickelson wasnt all that interested anyway.
He said, `I got four, Im plenty good, Barnes said later.
Amy Mickelson didnt want the silver medal, either. She had left her husband hints about bringing back the Open silver trophy so she could have something to decorate her hospital room with.
Once again, he came agonizingly close to delivering.
Mickelson had made the decision to play only a few weeks earlier after tests showed that Amys cancer had been caught early and was likely very treatable. The golf course was supposed to be his refuge, but she was never going to be far from his thoughts and those of the vocal New York fans.
On his way to the course Monday, Mickelson couldnt have helped but notice a bedsheet strung between two poles in the front yard of a home just outside Bethpage State Park.
God bless Amy, it read. Good luck Phil.
That pretty much summed up the relationship with fans who adopted Mickelson the last time the Open was here seven years ago and showed him even more love this time. They roared every time he hit a good shot, groaned collectively when he missed a putt, and shouted encouraging words as he walked down the fairway.
As he approached the 18th green and a birdie putt that would have at least made things interesting, they clapped and sang to him as if they were at a Mets game.
Lets go, Phil. Lets go, Phil.
One reason they love him here is because he pays them back. On a day when he had every reason to frown, he smiled his way around Bethpage, waving and giving a thumbs-up to anyone who grabbed his attention.
When it was all over, he stood and signed autographs until, it seemed, everyone who had a ticket had his signature. Then he signed some more for the New York state troopers who escorted him to his car.
Then it was off to the airport and his private jet. The plan was to pick up Amy and the kids for a family vacation before her surgery, then play it by ear after that.
Before leaving, though, there were questions to answer. He talked about the week, the fans at Bethpage, and his disappointment at not being able to finish things off.
Finally, he was asked to describe his emotions, a task that on this day he just wasnt up to.
I dont really know where to go with that, Mickelson said. Just that theres some more important things going on.
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.