Moving Day Mickelson Heads South

By Associated PressApril 13, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson stared out toward the 18th green, shook his head slightly, rubbed his chin and tried to figure out where it all went wrong.
 
On a day for going low, Lefty went south.
 
Mickelson wont need to worry about clearing a spot in his closet for a third green jacket, not after a dismal Saturday afternoon at Augusta National.
 
It was moving day, all right, but he moved in the wrong direction. Coming in just three strokes off the lead, Mickelson stumbled his way through a 3-over 75 that knocked him out contention heading to the final round.
 
A disappointing day, obviously, Mickelson said. I didnt play very well, and it was a day where there were some low scores out there. The greens were soft, the rain softened the course, and I thought there were some low scores. I just didnt shoot one of them.
 
Indeed, more than half the field shot par or better after heavy showers drenched the course just past lunchtime, causing a 45-minute delay and softening up those slick Augusta greens. Seven players shot in the 60s. Another six were at 70 or 71. Eleven more shot even-par 72.
 
And then there was Mickelson, whose score beat only seven other players and was epitomized by two dismal holes.
 
At the par-5 eighth, his third shot was right on the flag'literally. It struck the stick and spun back toward the fairway, nearly rolling off the green instead of staying up near the cup. He zoomed the putt 4 feet past the hole, then missed the comebacker. Instead of a likely birdie, he wound up with bogey.
 
That misfortune seemed to unnerve Mickelson, who bogeyed 10 and 12, but he appeared to collect himself with back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14.
 
Then there was No. 6, the 170-yarder known as Redbud. Ian Poulter had a hole-in-one there on Thursday, but this time the pin was tucked in the back right side of the green, a difficult placement that surrendered only four birdies Saturday and made it the fourth-toughest hole on the course.
 
The safe play was to lay it out left of the flag, take two putts and get out of there with a par. But Mickelson yanked an 8-iron into the one place he couldnt'the back right bunker. There was no way to blast it out of sand and keep it on the top tier of the green, so all he could do was watch his ball roll back toward the left fringe, leaving a good 60 feet just to save par.
 
You cant miss it right there, and I know that, Mickelson said. You just have to hit it left and try to make par.
 
He could even make bogey. Mickelson didnt give the uphill putt a hard enough whack and it came to a stop about 10 feet short. He missed that one, too, and took a 5. As he walked toward 17, he knew that any realistic hope of making a charge on Sunday was gone.
 
Trevor Immelman maintained the lead with his third straight round in the 60s, leaving him at 11-under 205 after three rounds. Mickelson is nine strokes back, needing a comeback of historic proportions to catch Immelman.
 
Jackie Burke overcame an eight-shot deficit on the final day to win in 1956, but he was aided by the collapse of amateur Ken Venturi. Even if the top four players on the leaderboard'none of them major winners'fall apart, theres still that guy in fifth place.
 
Tiger Woods shot a 68 and is three shots clear of Mickelson. Hard to imagine the worlds greatest player collapsing as well.
 
Ive just got to go out there and shoot a really low score, Mickelson said.
 
Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, followed up a second-round 68 with a 75 of his own. He bogeyed six out of 10 holes in one stretch, leaving him at even par and 11 strokes off the lead.
 
Poulters ace was a distant memory as he struggled through a birdie-less round. He bogeyed No. 9, took a double-bogey at the end and settled for pars on the other 16 holes. Yep, mark off another potential contender with a 75.
 
But the Englishman has never won a major, so his slide wasnt totally unexpected.
 
Mickelson, on the other hand, had three majors on his resume and is generally regarded as the best player in the world not named Tiger. Hes won two titles at Augusta in the last four years. On Saturday, though, Mickelson looked as though he was playing here for the first time.
 
It was an old bugaboo'the putter. In addition to that miss at No. 8, he botched putts of less than 10 feet at both 12 and 15, the latter costing him a third straight birdie.
 
If I knock that putt in, Im back to even for the round, which was the goal, said Mickelson, who started the day at 5 under. I thought I hit it closer. I thought it was 2 feet and instead it was 6. I didnt really putt those that well today, so when I missed that, well, that could have been a big momentum booster.
 
It was pretty much over by the time he got to 18. He drove it in a bunker, then knocked his second shot off a TV tower. Mickelson pulled off a delicate chip to save par, but it really didnt matter at that point.
 
Its one of those things where I think people who watch TV think, Oh, I cant believe Phil is hitting bad shots, said Steve Flesch, who played with Mickelson and wound being the best left-hander on the course.
 
I feel his pain because we have all gone through it. Unfortunately, its on a stage where its going out across the world. Everybody is seeing it.
 

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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”