Mickelson Spectacular in Victory

By Associated PressMay 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- His caddie loosened the flag from the 18th pin as a symbol of victory Sunday at THE PLAYERS Championship, and Phil Mickelson added a personal touch.
 
'Butch, the 1st of many.'
 
After playing one of his tidiest rounds on one of the most intimidating golf courses, Mickelson signed his name at the bottom of the note and handed it to his new swing coach, Butch Harmon. Arms around each other's shoulders, they walked up the hill toward the sprawling clubhouse for the trophy presentation, another sign that Mickelson might be on the rise.
 
'What's most exciting is I feel like we're just getting started,' Mickelson said.
 
In his third week with a new coach and a new plan, Mickelson suddenly looks better than ever.
 
He missed only four fairways and two greens, and had only one bogey when it no longer mattered. Mickelson closed with a 3-under 69 for a two-shot victory, adding a mini-major to his collection and renewed hope that even bigger trophies await.
 
'If I keep working at these things and keep progressing, I should be able to take on the ultimate tough challenge at Oakmont,' Mickelson said, already looking ahead to the U.S. Open next month.
 
This wasn't Phil the Thrill.
 
Having built a two-shot lead heading to the frightening island green on the par-3 17th, he left the attacking to someone else.
 
Sean O'Hair paid dearly.
 
O'Hair matched Mickelson shot-for-shot along the back nine at the TPC Sawgrass, unable to convert birdie putts to close the gap. He felt he had no choice but to go after the pin on the 17th, and was shocked when his 9-iron sailed over the green.
 
'You've got to make something happen,' O'Hair said. 'I didn't bust my butt for four days to get second place. Obviously, I paid for it.'
 
Mickelson finished at 11-under 277 for a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia, who closed with a 66 with four birdies on the last five holes. But he was only a ceremonial runner-up. The victim was O'Hair, the culprit that familiar and infamous island green.
 
He hit another ball in the water from the drop area and wound up with a quadruple-bogey 7, and his bogey on the 18th hole gave him a 76 and dropped him from second place to 11th place, the difference of $747,000.
 
'You can't force anything on the 17 and 18, you just can't,' O'Hair said. 'I had to today. I didn't have a choice.'
 
Attribute that to Mickelson, who took one hole to erase a one-shot deficit, pulled ahead for good with a par on the 10th hole and didn't miss a fairway over the final five holes.
 
Mickelson moved up to No. 2 in the world with his second victory of the year, and the 31st of his career. He earned $1.62 million from the richest purse in golf ($9 million) and trails Tiger Woods by only $60,000 on the money list, and 98 points in the FedEx Cup.
 
Woods still has twice as many points in the world ranking and likely will stay there for the rest of this year. Mickelson now has a new strategy, a new coach, and renewed hope.
 
'You're just seeing the tip of the iceberg,' said Harmon, who previously worked with Greg Norman and Woods when they rose to No. 1 in the world. 'He's going to get a lot better.'
 
Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal fired off a string of birdies for the third straight day and nearly got into the mix. His fourth straight birdie on No. 12 got him within three shots of the lead, but a bogey on No. 15 stalled his bid and he settled for a 67 to tie for third with Stewart Cink (66).
 
On this day, Woods finished before Mickelson and O'Hair sat down for lunch.
 
After going from bunker to water for a double bogey on the fourth hole, it looked as though Woods might go an entire week without shooting par or better, something he had only done in three majors. But four straight birdies around the turn and a 10-foot eagle on the 16th sent him to a 67 to finish at 288.
 
'I knew I could shoot a round in the 60s here if I'd just make a few putts, and I did today,' Woods said.
 
Eight players were within four shots of O'Hair at the start of the final round, and that number dwindled quickly when only three of those players -- Mickelson, Jose Coceres and Carl Petterson -- made a birdie through the first five holes.
 
Mickelson again met with Harmon for a two-hour session on the practice range some six hours before he teed off, and they worked again before he headed to the first tee.
 
'He's got as much talent as anyone in the world, other than maybe Tiger,' Harmon said. 'If we can get him to play out of the fairway, he can rival Tiger.'
 
Lefty looked irritated with his first drive, a low, sweeping fade that started out over the water before finding the fairway. But he wasted no time catching O'Hair.
 
Mickelson holed a 25-foot birdie putt at No. 1, and O'Hair stayed in the lead by making a 7-footer for par. O'Hair had to make a nervy 4-footer on the next hole to match birdies with Mickelson, and the kid followed with two bunker saves to stay atop the leaderboard.
 
The start of the back nine turned in Mickelson's favor.
 
From a fairway bunker, O'Hair bounced his approach over the green and played a full flop that came out strong and went through the green into more rough. He chipped short and made his first bogey to fall one shot behind.
 
O'Hair appeared to have the advantage on the par-5 11th when Mickelson found the right rough and played a risky shot with a hybrid to the left portion of the fairway. O'Hair had a shot at the green, and his ball came up a yard short of perfect, instead dropping down the slope and into the bunker. It was a simple shot, but O'Hair caught it heavy and settled for par. Mickelson nearly holed his wedge and made a 4-footer for birdie, and suddenly the lead was two shots.
 
'I don't think I lost it on 11,' O'Hair said. 'I think I lost the momentum on 11.'
 
They traded pars the rest of the way, both missing a few good birdie chances on the 15th and 16th.
 
That gave Mickelson a two-shot cushion playing the island green, one of the few holes were he aims for the middle of the green. That's where he hit it Sunday, leaving the risk -- and penalty -- to someone else.
 
The only excitement from Mickelson came on the 18th, when his 6-iron flirted with the banks of the lake.
 
Related Links:
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”