Mickelson Trying to Live on Straight and Narrow

By Associated PressJune 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Phil Mickelson looked more like a bowler than a three-time major champion, adjusting the black brace on his left wrist as he stared down the first fairway, an alley lined not by gutters but the gnarly, ankle-deep rough of Oakmont Country Club.
 
It was a gentle swing and a favorable result, right down the middle.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has had to limit his practice leading up to the U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
He played only nine holes Tuesday, but it was the first time he had played golf since he withdrew May 31 after 11 holes of the Memorial with an inflamed left wrist. He had hoped to play without pain at the U.S. Open, but he will settle for playing.
 
'I should be able to have it be manageable as long as I don't aggravate it,' Mickelson said. 'Or hit it in the rough.'
 
Talk about a miracle cure.
 
Mickelson's inability to keep the ball in the short grass is the reason he comes to this major with as much inflammation in his psyche as his left wrist. A year ago at Winged Foot, he was one par away from an elusive U.S. Open title until hitting a tee shot off a corporate tent, against a tree and into a bunker, making double bogey on the 18th hole to finish one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy.
 
Having already tied the U.S. Open record for most second-place finishes -- four -- Mickelson showed up at Oakmont two weeks ago for his marathon practice sessions, where he sticks tiny flags on the putting surface and slowly works his way around the green chipping out of the rough from every conceivable angle. He believes that's how he injured his wrist.
 
Now, his best hope this week might be staying out of the thick grass.
 
'I think it's important to drive the ball very well here, obviously, and that's going to be the biggest challenge for me,' he said. 'But this should not be a long-term problem if I don't aggravate the inflammation. And this, unfortunately, isn't the best week for that, given my driving history.'
 
It's not a good week for anyone not at full strength.
 
Reputed to be the toughest golf course in the country, Oakmont offers a complete test. The course is not the longest, even if it has the longest par 5 (667 yards) and longest par 3 (288 yards) in major championship history. The greens are so fast that the U.S. Open staff slows them down to keep it fair.
 
'It's probably the most difficult championship that we face all year, because you're tested from tee-to-green, and you're tested on the greens,' two-time champion Tiger Woods said. 'Generally, if you're missing one facet of your game, more than likely you're not going to win the championship. You have to have everything going.'
 
That presumably means all body parts working at full capacity. And while the pain is in Mickelson's wrist, the key might be his head.
 
'He's a power player,' said Ernie Els, another two-time U.S. Open champion who has played with a bad wrist, back and is just now recovering from surgery to repair knee ligaments. 'You go at it aggressively, you have to just somehow try and put the pain in the back of your head if you can. I don't know how severe it is. When you're under the gun, you get competitive, you want to hit it the way you always do. You've just got try to and not think about it.'
 
This might be the most rust Mickelson has brought to a major championship, certainly this one. He prefers to play the week before a major, but pulled out last week on the PGA TOUR to give his wrist more time to heal. Rarer still is not playing a full 18 holes on any of the practice days leading up to the tournament.
 
'I could have played 18, but I don't want to push it,' Mickelson said.
 
He tried to play last Tuesday and couldn't, so he called his doctors for a cortisone shot to help ease the inflammation. On his way to Pittsburgh, he took a detour to Las Vegas to work with swing coach Butch Harmon. He still couldn't play.
 
But with therapy, ice and rest, Mickelson believes it's getting better.
 
He hit balls for the first time Monday upon his arrival at Oakmont, but only took one swing with the driver and didn't take any full shots off the ground, using a tee to hit middle irons. He only pulled out the driver a couple of times over nine holes Tuesday.
 
Perhaps the biggest disappointment was seeing rough actually shorter than when he got hurt. Woods and Ogilvy noticed the same thing. Ogilvy was reported to have shot 85 last week while losing seven balls, but the Australian set the record straight.
 
'I think I shot 83 and lost two,' Ogilvy said. 'But it was hard. It was five shots harder last Monday than it is right now. I didn't think there would be one score in the 60s at all, and I thought there would be scores in the 90s the way we played it last Monday. But the last couple of days, it's been a lot more playable than that.'
 
Some of that was a storm that moved in over the weekend, some of that was knocking the rust off the lawnmowers.
 
Woods is not convinced about the latter.
 
'I know they had the mowers out there,' he said. 'I don't know if they did anything.'
 
He has played two full practice rounds this week, but plans to do nothing but chip and putt Wednesday. His practice partner has been big-hitting Bubba Watson, and even with Watson's swing speed, Woods was amazed to watch him try to hit 5-iron out of the rough right of the 15th fairway and watch the ball squirt only about 30 feet.
 
That's the reason Mickelson will try to keep his game on the straight and narrow, now more than ever.
 
He switched from bandages to the brace, and says his right wrist also is sore because of favoring it during light workouts. As for his expectation, this is one time Mickelson didn't want to get into any specifics.
 
'I want to ... continue to improve my ball-striking without aggravating my wrist anymore,' he said.
 
The best medicine is staying out of the rough -- for Mickelson and everyone else.
 
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    Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

    Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole, No. 9.

    Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

    "Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

    "It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

    Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

    "I'm not," harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

    "I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

    He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from some TV cables, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.

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    Na (62) leads Hoffman by one at Colonial

    By Nick MentaMay 24, 2018, 10:38 pm

    Kevin Na leads the Fort Worth Invitational by one over Charley Hoffman following a first-round 8-under 62. Here's where things stand through 18 holes at Colonial.

    Leaderboard: Na (-8), Hoffman (-7), Emiliano Grillo (-6), Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Andrew Putnam (-6), Beau Hossler (-6)

    What it means: The veteran Na is in search of just his second PGA Tour victory in 367 events played. The 34-year-old's lone victory came at the 2011 Shriners to go along with nine runner-ups, the most recent of which was a tie for second at this year's Genesis Open. Na missed three straight cuts in April but has rallied back with a weekend stay at The Players and a T-6 at last week's Byron Nelson. Ranked 75th in the world, he is not currently qualified for the U.S. Open or the Open Championship. 

    Round of the day: Na turned in a clean card Thursday with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 first, his 10th hole of the day. He closed with a chip-in birdie at No. 9 following a friendly disagreement with his caddie (more on that below). 

    Best of the rest: Hoffman was likewise bogey-free, drawing seven circles. The four-time Tour winner and typically steady performer has yet to register a top-10 finish this season.

    Biggest disappointment: Not that a round of 1 under is tragically disappointing, but Jordan Spieth has a pretty solid history of going low at this event and contending for the title. He's seven back through Round 1.

    Shot of the day: Satoshi Kodaira recorded the second albatross in tournament history when he holed a 3-iron from 234 yards at the first.

    Honorable mention: Na got into a pretty good back-and-forth with his caddie about whether to lay up or try to clear the water from the right rough at No. 9. Na went for it, avoided hazard, and holed this chip for birdie. 

    Quote of the day: "I told you." - Na, after his chip-in

    Golf Channel's NCAA Golf Coverage Continues Mon-Wed., May 28-30 With the NCAA Men's Golf Championships

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsMay 24, 2018, 10:24 pm

    Two National Championships to be Decided Over a Three-Day Span – Individual (Mon., May 28) and Team (Wed., May 30)

     Eight of the Top-10 Ranked Programs in the Country Set to Compete; Reigning NCAA Men’s National Champions Oklahoma and Current Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Paired Together Starting Friday

     Buick and Stifel Co-Presenting Sponsors of Golf Channel’s Coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships

    ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2018 – Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s dramatic championship match where Arizona defeated Alabama in a playoff to claim their third women’s golf team national championship, Golf Channel returns to Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. next week for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf National Championships. Taking place Monday-Wednesday, May 28-30, Golf Channel’s coverage will feature nearly 30 hours of live tournament and on-site wraparound news coverage, showcasing the top men’s college golf programs in the country.

    NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage: Coverage begins on Monday, May 28 to crown the individual national champion and to track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30 will include all three rounds of the team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion.

    In addition, Golf Central will surround live tournament action with pre-and post-event news coverage produced on-site at Karsten Creek Golf Club, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and online via Golf Channel Digital. News and tournament coverage also will be live streamed on Golf Channel Digital. College Central, Golf Channel’s online home for college golf, will provide comprehensive editorial coverage throughout the championships.

    Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

    Monday, May   28

    Individual   National Championship

    4-8 p.m.   (Live)

    Tuesday, May   29

    Quarterfinals,   Team Match Play

    11   a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

    Tuesday,   May 29

    Semifinals,   Team Match Play

    4-8 p.m.   (Live)

    Wednesday, May   30

    Team Match   Play National Championship

    4-8 p.m.   (Live)

    Stifel and Buick Sign on as Co-Presenting Sponsors for Golf Channel’s NCAA Golf Championships Tournament Coverage: New for 2018, Stifel Financial Corp. and Buick have signed on as co-presenting sponsors for Golf Channel’s tournament coverage of the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. In addition, Stifel has extended its partnership with the Fred Haskins Commission, Golf Channel and Golfweek as presenting sponsor of the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to nation’s outstanding male collegiate golfer.Golf Channel will announce the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel following the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, on a live edition of Golf Central, Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. ET. The show will include profiles on the top candidates for the award and a live interview with the winner, who also will receive an exemption to compete in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR. The Haskins Award honors the nation’s most outstanding male Division I collegiate golfer as selected by his peers, coaches and the golf media.

    Semifinal Teams in Match Play to Receive Invitations to Compete in East Lake Cup: The East Lake Cup, taking place in late October at historic East Lake Golf Club, will feature the top-performing teams from the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Invitations for the field have been extended to Arizona, Alabama, Southern California and Stanford – semifinalists in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, and also will be extended to the semifinalists in the Men’s Championships. Modeled after the NCAA Golf Championships, the format for the East Lake Cup consists of an opening round of stroke play to crown an individual male and female champion and determine seeding for the following two days of match play competition. Golf Channel will air live coverage of the East Lake Cup Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 29-31.

    College Central – Golf Channel Digital Coverage: Golf Channel will provide comprehensive coverage via College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, and Ryan Lavner, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.

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    Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut

    By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

    Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

    Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

    Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.


    Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open


    Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

    While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics: