Mickelson wants to add Jack's event to his victory list

By Associated PressJune 2, 2011, 9:00 am

DUBLIN, Ohio - Phil Mickelson has had some emotional meetings with Jack Nicklaus, just not behind the 18th green at Muirfield Village late Sunday afternoon at the Memorial.

It’s one of the traditions of the tournament Nicklaus created. He is always there at the end, waiting to congratulate the winner, then hosting the winner’s news conference and offering glowing praise.

“I’d love to win Jack’s tournament,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson won the Byron Nelson in 1995, his third full year on the PGA Tour. Two years later, he made a charge that made Arnold Palmer proud when he won the Bay Hill Invitational. He has won on the two courses that claim to be Hogan’s Alley - Colonial and Riviera.

About all that’s missing is winning at Jack’s place.

He has never finished better than a tie for fourth in 2006, when he finished three shots behind Carl Pettersson . His only other top-10 came in 2002, when he was four shots behind in a tie for ninth.

“I like the feeling of coming back to a tournament knowing that I’ve won it. It brings back special memories,” Mickelson said. “And I don’t have those yet here, and I’d like to see if I can change that.”

Mickelson might find inspiration from the group that will join him Thursday when the Memorial gets under way - Charl Schwartzel , whom Mickelson helped into a green jacket at The Masters in April, and Luke Donald , playing his first event as No. 1 in the world.

Donald won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last week in a playoff over Lee Westwood to replace him atop the world ranking, becoming only the 15th player to be No. 1 in the 25 years of the ranking.

Mickelson is the second-most accomplished player of his generation behind Tiger Woods - 39 wins on the PGA Tour, four majors, two World Golf Championships. No one else is even close to that kind of success.

But he has never been No. 1 in the world. He has never won a PGA Tour money title or been voted Player of the Year.

“That’s incredible to me,” Fred Couples said.

Mickelson had a dozen chances to go to No. 1 last year as Woods began his slide, and couldn’t get it done during a tough season of health issues - not only his wife recovering from breast cancer, but Mickelson diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis that took the latter half of the year to get under control.

Now comes the meat of his schedule, with three majors over the next three months, and a tournament he would love to win this week.

Nicklaus and Mickelson have a strong relationship, and perhaps no other moment was more emotional than the Presidents Cup in 2005. Mickelson was designated to present a portrait to Nicklaus and his wife of their beloved grandson, Jake, who drowned earlier that year when the toddler fell into a hot tub. The Americans delivered a big win the next day at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

Now if they can just hook up behind the 18th green.

“It’s funny how I have not played as well in this event as I would have liked,” Mickelson said. “It feels a lot like Riviera to me, where I have loved the golf course early in my career and have not ever played that well. And I’m hoping to turn that around. For whatever reason, it clicked at Riviera and I started playing well and winning it a couple of times.'

“This is a special tournament,” he said. “This course is just a terrific course, one of the better ones we play. I’m hoping that it clicks and I play as well on this course as I know I can.”

Even with a shift in the ranking that favors Europeans, and even with Woods mending his left leg at home, the Memorial has another strong field with six of the top 10 players in the world and 12 of the top 20. That includes Rory McIlroy , in a rare PGA Tour visit, along with Dustin Johnson , Nick Watney and Players champion K.J. Choi .

The one big change at Muirfield Village is at the 16th hole, a par 3 that used to play slightly uphill, protected by a deep bunker in the front and bunkers in the back. Nicklaus once described the 16th as a way to get from the 15th green to the 17th tee, so to add some character to the hole, he shifted drainage to create a large pond in front of a green that now angles to the back left.

“It’s certainly more difficult,” Mickelson said. “You’re hitting over the water. I thought if we shot up the green, I might think about 2 a few times. But really, I’ll just try to make a 3 there.”

He went for a birdie 2 in the pro-am Wednesday.

“I hit my first shot in the water and made 5, so I’m going to try to not do that in the tournament,” he said with a grin.

Mickelson hasn’t played since The Players Championship, deciding against Colonial and the Byron Nelson. He is not playing next week in Memphis, instead going to Congressional to start preparing for the U.S. Open.

This will be his last tune-up before the U.S. Open. It would be a good time for Mickelson to find his form going into the U.S. Open, and to get a chance to spend more time with Nicklaus.

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”