Notes A Busy Weekend for Mickelson

By Associated PressAugust 2, 2005, 4:00 pm
Phil Mickelson had a busy weekend, starting with a back-to-school shopping spree for needy children in San Diego on Saturday, then a lengthy practice session across the country the next two days at Baltusrol Golf Club to get ready for the PGA Championship.
Neither trip was accompanied by much fanfare.
Mickelson and his wife, Amy, were at a Wal-Mart store at dawn Saturday as 900 children and their parents arrived to get free backpacks loaded with school supplies. It was called Start Smart, a program created by his foundation in which 50 principals from five school districts in San Diego Country selected pupils in grades 1-4 based on need.
Were just so fortunate to be able to help some of the neediest kids in the county, Mickelson said. His foundation contributed $200,000 to Start Smart, while Wal-Mart chipped in $25,000.
Mickelson then went to New Jersey for one of his famed practice rounds, placing tiny flags around the greens and taking copious notes of Baltusrol with hopes of ending the season with a major.
The PGA Championship starts Aug. 11.
Mickelson is among several players who have never seen Baltusrol, which last hosted a major at the 1993 U.S. Open. That was the only U.S. Open that Lefty missed over the last 15 years.
Club members were not aware Mickelson was on the Lower Course until he came off the 18th green and agreed to pose for a picture with Vincent Dolan, Baltusrols newly crowned over-55 champion.
Mickelson played again on Monday, and was joined by none other than Tiger Woods for the final two holes. Mickelson then headed for the International in Colorado, while Woods went home to continue preparation in Florida.
Golf Digest has been the leading source on holes-in-one since it began tracking them worldwide in 1952. In the September issue, the magazine asked Francis Scheid, the retired chairman of Boston Universitys mathematics department to update the odds on making an ace.
The odds of a tour player making an ace are 3,000-1, while it goes up to 5,000-1 for a low-handicap player and stretches to 12,000-1 for an average golfer.
The odds also change dramatically depending on the length of the hole. Scheid determined that an average player making a hole-in-one on a 150-yard hole is 8,000-1, while the odds go up to 15,000-1 for a 200-yard hole.
The highest odds listed in the magazine are for two average players in the same foursome making an ace on the same hole. That would be a mere 17 million-to-1.
Peter Jacobsen once learned a valuable lesson from Arnold Palmer in the art of penmanship.
He used to play an exhibition with Palmer, LPGA players and former NBA coach Pat Riley in Los Angeles, and they were working an autograph line when Jacobsen signed a hat and passed it along to Palmer, who promptly shoved it back at him and grilled him over his signature.
He said, What is that? I said, Thats my autograph, Jacobsen said. He said, I cant read it. That scribble may be OK on a check because your banker is not going to look at it, but if somebody wants you to sign a piece of memorabilia, youd better be able to sign it so he can read it.
So from that day on, I always try to sign my signature so I can read it.
Jacobsen remembered that lesson last week at the U.S. Senior Open, when he signed a hat for a young fan that already had other autographs.
I asked him, Do you know who any of those are? Jacobsen said. He said no. I said, What does that tell you? He said, When I get famous, I should scribble my name.
No matter what his birth certificate says, 50-year-old Greg Norman doesnt feel like a senior golfer, and he doesnt intend to become one quite yet.
I feel like Im still young enough to compete with the young guys, which is a good mind-set to have, he said last week at the U.S. Senior Open, where he finished fourth. I still feel like I hit the ball far enough to get it out there. ... To say that Im old and Im a senior golfer, no. I dont want to say that.
Norman finished third at the Senior British Open the week before as part of a five-week stretch. He has the International this week in Colorado, followed by the PGA Championship, where he received a special exemption.
As for the Champions Tour?
Only the majors, the Shark said.
The fifth and final major on the senior circuit is The Tradition, played two weeks after the PGA.
Jeong Jang was so nervous going into the final round of the Womens British Open that she only slept about three hours and woke up at 7:30 a.m., nearly seven hours before she teed off with Annika Sorenstam.
To kill time, she hung out in her room and played on her Game Boy.
Which game?
I play Tiger Woods Golf. I think it helps my golf game, she said.
Jang closed with a 69 to complete a wire-to-wire, four-shot victory at Royal Birkdale.
Callaway Golf has appointed George Fellows as president and CEO. Fellows has had his own consulting business in New York the last five years, serving as senior adviser to Investcorp and JPMorgan Partners. Before that, he was president and CEO of Revlon, Inc. ... Vijay Singh has won more tournaments (5) sponsored by Buick than Tiger Woods (4), the companys top pitchman in golf. ... Sean OHair, the leading candidate for PGA Tour rookie of the year with nearly $2 million in earnings, has signed with IMG. He had been represented by an attorney in Philadelphia. ... Luke Donald has donated $50,000 from being the 54-hole leader at the Buick Invitational to Driving 4 Life to raise money to find a cure for Lou Gehrigs disease. The program was founded by Jeff Julian and caddie Bruce Edwards, who died of the disease, and by Tom Watson. ... Annika Sorenstam went 49 holes without a bogey at the Womens British Open, the longest streak on the LPGA Tour this year.
Tiger Woods has not finished out of the top three since missing the cut in the Byron Nelson Championship in May.
I cant hear you, the cameras are going off.'Michelle Wie at a news conference on the eve of the Womens British Open.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

Murray fixes swing flaw, recovers momentum

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 2:24 am

SAN ANTONIO - Grayson Murray fixed a flaw in his swing and hit the ball well enough that blustery conditions weren't an issue for him Thursday in the Valero Texas Open.

Coming off a missed cut at Hilton Head last week, Murray made seven birdies for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead. His only mistake was a double bogey from a greenside bunker on the par-3 seventh hole.

''Just the fact I did give myself enough opportunities today for birdie, it took a lot of pressure off,'' Murray said.

Of the five players at 68, only Chesson Hadley played in the morning side of the draw, and he called it among his best rounds of the year because of gusts. The wind died in the afternoon and scoring improved slightly on the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio. Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Billy Horschel and Matt Atkins each posted 68. Horschel and Moore played bogey-free.

''Struck the ball really well, something that we've been working hard on,'' Horschel said. ''Could have been better, yeah. I didn't really make anything out there today. But I'm happy with it.''

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the course, played the Texas Open for the first time since 2010 and shot a 74. Adam Scott failed to make a birdie in his round of 75. Scott is at No. 59 in the world and needs to stay in the top 60 by May 21 to be exempt for the U.S. Open.

Harris English was in the group at 69, while two-time Texas Open champion Zach Johnson, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker were among those at 70. Johnson saved his round by going 5 under over his final five holes, starting with a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 14th hole. He birdied the last three.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Murray was coming off a pair of top 15s at Bay Hill and the Houston Open when his game got away from him last week in the RBC Heritage, and he shot 74-70 to miss the cut. He got that sorted out in the five days between teeing it up in San Antonio.

He said he was coming down too steep, which meant he would flip his hands and hit a sharp draw or pull out of it and hit it short and right.

''I was hitting each club 10 yards shorter than I normally do, and you can't play like that because your caddie is trying to give you a number and a club, and you keep hitting these bad shots or keep coming up short,'' Murray said. ''I got back to the basics with the setup and the takeaway, got my club in a better position at the top, which kind of frees my downswing. Then I can start going at it.''

Even so, Murray thought he wasted his good start - three birdies in his first six holes - when his bunker shot at No. 7 came out with no spin and rolled off the green into a deep swale. He hit his third short to about 7 feet, but missed the putt and took double bogey.

''I would have loved to limit that to a bogey because bogeys don't really kill you - doubles are the ones that now you've got to have an eagle or two birdies to come back with, and out here it's kind of tough to make birdies,'' Murray said. ''But I kept my head. My caddie keeps me very positive out there, that's why I think we could finish 4 under the last nine holes.''

Only 34 players in the 156-man field managed to break par.

Horschel missed four birdie chances inside 18 feet on the back nine. What pleased him the most was the way he struck the ball, particularly after his tie for fifth last week at the RBC Heritage. Horschel was one shot behind going into the last round and closed with a 72.

But he's all about momentum, and he can only hope this is the start of one of his runs. Horschel won the FedEx Cup in 2014 when he finished second and won the final two playoff events.

''I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward,'' he said. ''I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump in that winner's circle.''

Getty Images

LPGA back in L.A.: Inbee Park leads by 1

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 1:53 am

LOS ANGELES - Inbee Park's flirtation with retirement is in the rear-view mirror.

Backed by a large contingent of South Korean fans, Park shot a 5-under 66 for a one-shot lead Thursday in the opening round of the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open in the LPGA's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Showers ended shortly before Park's threesome, including second-ranked Lexi Thompson, teed off at windy Wilshire Country Club just south of Hollywood.

Using a new putter, Park birdied four consecutive holes on the back nine before a bogey on the par-4 17th. She quickly recovered and rolled in birdie putts on the second and fifth holes to finish off her round.

''I never played a tournament outside Korea having this much Korean supporters out,'' Park said. ''I almost feel like I'm playing back home. It's almost like a little Korea.''

That applies to the food, too, with nearby Koreatown's restaurants beckoning.

''Too many,'' Park said.

The third-ranked Park banished the blade-style putter she used in her Founders Cup victory last month in Phoenix, a playoff loss in the ANA Inspiration and a tie for third last week in Hawaii. She went back to one that feels more comfortable and has brought her success in the past.

''Last week was just an awkward week where I missed a lot of short ones and I just wasn't really comfortable with the putter,'' Park said, ''so I just wanted to have a different look.''

The 29-year-old Hall of Famer recently said she was 50-50 about retiring before returning to the tour in early March after a six-month break. Momentum has been going her way ever since.

Marina Alex was second. Thompson was one of seven players at 68 in partly sunny and unseasonable temperatures in the low 60s.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

Alex tied Park with a birdie on No. 11. The American dropped a stroke with a bogey on the par-5 13th before rallying with a birdie on No. 14 to share the lead.

Alex found trouble on the par-4 17th. Her ball crossed over a winding creek, bounced and then rolled into the water, leaving Alex looking for it. Eventually, she salvaged a bogey to drop a shot behind Park. After a bad tee shot on 18, Alex managed a par to close at 67.

''I made a lot of the putts that I shouldn't, I wouldn't have expected to make,'' she said. ''I made two great saves on 17 and 18. Kind of got away with some not-so-solid golf shots in the beginning, and I capitalized on some great putts.''

Thompson returned from a two-week break after finishing tied for 20th at the ANA Inspiration, the year's first major.

She bogeyed her second hole, the par-4, 401-yard 11th, before settling down and birdieing four of the next eight holes, including the 14th, 15th and 16th.

''I changed a little thing that slipped my mind that I was working on earlier in the year,'' said Thompson, declining to share the change in her putting technique. ''I don't want to jinx it.''

ANA winner Pernilla Lundberg was among those in the logjam after a 68.

Natalie Gulbis was among five players tied for 10th at 69. Playing sparingly the last two years, Gulbis put together a round that included four birdies and two bogeys.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng struggled to a 74 with five bogeys and two birdies.

The venerable course with views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory wasn't any kinder to eighth-ranked Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie.

Both had up-and-down rounds that included three bogeys and a double-bogey on No. 10 for Kerr and five bogeys, including three in a row, for Wie. Wie, ranked 14th, had a few putts that lipped out.

Getty Images

Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 12:32 am

Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."

The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.

"I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."

Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.

With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.

"Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."

Getty Images

Three years later, PXG launches new iron

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 19, 2018, 11:22 pm

Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.

“Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”

PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.

The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.

Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit