More Majors Loom on Leftys Horizon

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Phil Mickelson was in no hurry to leave Baltusrol, not that he had a choice.
Two hours after he won the PGA Championship with a birdie on the fifth day and final hole, he found himself squeezed in every direction by nearly 100 fans who gathered around for autographs, creating a large circle of humanity that slowly moved toward the parking lot.
It has been that way for years. Winning doesn't change the way fans feel about their beloved Lefty.
But among his peers, the perception of Mickelson as a major force changed significantly.
His one-shot victory in the PGA Championship allowed him to break away from an underachieving class of players who finally won their first major and never captured another. And he joined an elite group of players who have won majors in consecutive years.
``He's not a one-major guy, he's a 10-major guy,'' Thomas Bjorn said. ``He's going to go on now and contend for majors as he's always done, but it's going to be easier and easier for him to win them now. And he deserves greatness.''
Mickelson still only has two majors -- same as Lee Janzen, John Daly and Mark O'Meara -- and predicting greatness is a dangerous business in golf. Who would have thought Davis Love III would still only have one major championship after his PGA victory in 1997?
Even so, Mickelson set himself apart from other rivals to Tiger Woods, who remains in a class by himself.
Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen all have multiple majors since Woods arrived in 1997, although none has been able to sustain any kind of challenge in the tournaments that matter the most.
Singh has been on top of his game since winning the 2002 Tour Championship at East Lake, winning 17 times over the last three years. But when Woods went into a tailspin, the 42-year-old Fijian managed to win just one major, last year at Whistling Straits in a playoff.
Els rarely backs up a big year in the majors with another one.
After winning the 2002 British Open at Muirfield, he never contended in any of the '03 majors. And while he had a good shot at all of them last year, he again was never a factor this year until his season ended with knee surgery.
Goosen, whose game is slowly getting the respect it deserves, lost his chance to win consecutive U.S. Open titles -- only Curtis Strange has done that in the last 50 years -- when he shot 81 in the last round at Pinehurst.
That's what made Mickelson's victory at Baltusrol so big.
He joins Woods and Nick Faldo as the only players to have won majors in consecutive years since 1990.
Walter Hagen went six straight years winning at least one major (four in a row at the PGA Championship), while Jack Nicklaus and Woods each went four straight years with a Grand Slam trophy. Perhaps it is no surprise that they are the top three on the career majors chart.
Mickelson got off to a slow start.
It took him a dozen years on the PGA Tour and 22 victories to capture his first major last year at the Masters, and it appeared it might take him a while before he got his next one. Mickelson failed to contend in any of them this year, but he was determined the PGA Championship would be different.
And he was right.
Mickelson went back to that controlled cut off the tee to take the right half of Baltusrol out of play. He looked confident over putts that were 4 feet or 40 feet, and made enough of them that when the hole got smaller on the weekend, he still could afford to miss a few.
But he has some catching up to do.
``At 35, I've got a number of years left -- good years left -- where my game can continue to improve,'' Mickelson said. ``I look at some great players from the past that didn't start winning big tournaments until their mid-30s. I want to try to get better and better as my career goes on.''
Ben Hogan won eight of his nine majors after turning 35. Sam Snead won six of his seven majors at 35 or older. Nicklaus won his 18 majors over 25 seasons, with the last six coming after he turned 35.
There's still time.
The Wanamaker Trophy at his side Monday afternoon, Mickelson wasn't ready to consider the future. For years when the season ended without a major, he dreaded having to wait seven months for his next chance.
``The next major isn't for another seven months,'' Mickelson said, this time with a grin. ``I just want to relish this, and enjoy the fact that for the next seven months, I'm the most recent major winner.''
Still, Lefty can start entertaining thoughts of a career Grand Slam, the ultimate measure of greatness.
Els (U.S. Open, British Open) and Singh (Masters, PGA) already are halfway there, each capable at the majors they have not won. Ditto for Mickelson, especially since Baltusrol was set up like a U.S. Open, and his two runner-up finishes at majors have come in a U.S. Open.
It would seem the British Open would present the stiffest test, but how to explain Mickelson finishing one shot out of a playoff at Royal Troon last year? If he's playing well, he can win anywhere.
``There are different challenges to winning each major, and I'm pleased to have accomplished two of those challenges,'' Mickelson said. ``But there are two more that would show the complete player.''
With major victories in consecutive years, it could happen sooner than some people think.
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    M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

    Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

    Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

    Marina Alex was second after a 68.

    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

    So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

    Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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    Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

    By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

    Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

    When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

    It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

    Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

    Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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    Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

    He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

    ''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

    Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

    They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

    Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

    Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

    It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

    Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

    The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

    Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

    ''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

    The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

    ''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

    The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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    Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

    ''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

    On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

    ''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

    Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

    ''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

    Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

    ''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

    Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

    First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.