Notes Leftys Putter Working Nicely

By Associated PressMay 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Wachovia ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Phil Mickelson is back on the course'and he brought his putter.
 
After spending the past few weeks breaking in a new putter and working on his short game, Mickelson made an encouraging return to tournament play Thursday during the first round of the Wachovia Championship.
 
His 4-under 68 included five birdies, a couldve-been-worse bogey and, most importantly, some close-range consistency that was reminiscent of his only win of the year, his two-stroke triumph over Jeff Quigley in February at the Northern Trust Open.
 
I made a lot of putts there, but I didnt feel good with the putter. They went in, but I didnt feel confident with the way they were rolling, Mickelson said. Today was a different day for me on the greens. I mean, not only did I make a lot, but the ones that missed were tracking and coming close to the edges. So I feel like heading in here, Im actually putting better, even though I made a lot that week.
 
Playing at the familiar Quail Hollow Club course where he has three top-seven finishes in four appearances, he posted numbers that back it up.
 
Mickelson made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 1, his 10th hole of the day, and that came after he escaped No. 18 with a bogey. He sent his second shot into the water left of the green, took a drop, placed his fourth shot 8 feet from the pin and made that putt to generate some momentum.
 
You can afford to lose a shot around this course, Mickelson said. Youll make some mistakes, youll make some bogeys, but you dont want to have huge mistakes like doubles, and to make that up-and-down, make that putt, that was a big one.
 
He finished with birdies on two of his final three holes, wrapping up his round by making a 25-foot chip shot on No. 9 that put him atop the leaderboard for a while.
 
In all, he made 15 of 16 putts from inside 10 feet to address an old bugaboo ' he had several misses from close range during a disastrous third round that helped knocked him out of contention at the Masters, his most recent tournament. Since then, he ditched his 33 1/2 -inch putter in favor of one that is 1 1/2 inches longer.
 
Its good to see some positive results from the time I spent the last couple weeks, Mickelson said.
 
NOTHING AMATEUR ABOUT HIM:
Trevor Murphy skipped this weekends Atlantic 10 championship for a shot at playing against the pros. Smart decision.
 
The UNC Charlotte senior and last-minute qualifier shot a 71'not bad for an amateur playing one of the PGA TOURs roughest non-majors.
 
I couldnt even feel the golf club in my hand on my first tee shot, Murphy said.
 
Murphy didnt even make it into the field for this tournament until earlier this week. Because his college team was off last weekend in preparation for the league championship in Orlando, Fla., the former world-class skiier entered himself in Mondays qualifier and tied another player for the final spot through 18 holes.
 
He came back the next day for a playoff, needing two extra holes to claim a spot in a field that includes 18 of the worlds top 25 players.
 
PUTTING PROBLEMS:
Geoff Ogilvys poor putting kept him from taking the lead.
 
Ogilvy didnt have any bogeys during his opening-round 70, but he missed several reasonable birdie putts that prevented him from making a charge up the leaderboard.
 
He missed a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 8, his 17th hole of the round, before tapping in a 2-footer, then finished his day by missing a 30-foot birdie attempt and making a 1-footer.
 
Just missed putt after putt. It was horrible, really, Ogilvy said. Im not going to practice because practicing my putting tends to make me putt worse, so Im going to go home and learn to putt better.
 
SPEED UP!:
Theyve complained about slow play for years on the PGA TOUR, and that topic was discussed during a pre-tournament meeting.
 
We talked a lot about it, and we always do, David Toms said. The issue came up this time about golf course setup, and why does it have to be so difficult. A lot of guys believe that is one of the reasons for the slow play. Golf course setup is why you see pro golfers, the best in the world, a guy shoot 67 and then another guy shoot 79 is because there is such a fine line there. You get on the wrong side, and it just takes a while.
 
So, I think we can do a combination of things. If you ask the field staff, they would tell you theres way too many people playing, and you cant get them around that fast. Golf course setup, I think, is a big deal. If you saw pins in the middle of the greens like you do for the pro-am, I think wed get along a lot quicker. All of it goes hand in hand.
 
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    Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:59 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.

    Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.

    Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.

    “I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”

    Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.

    The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.

    “If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”

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    Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:50 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.

    Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.

    Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):

    7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger

    Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson

    Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.


    12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox

    This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.


    1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas

    This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.

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    Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 5:30 pm

    There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


    Purse: $7 million

    Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)

    Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.


    Notables in the field

    Jordan Spieth

    • Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week

    • 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)

    • Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)


    Brooks Koepka

    • Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)

    • First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)

    • First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)


    Justin Thomas

    • Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)

    • Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)


    Rory McIlroy

    • Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)

    • Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)


    Jason Day

    • Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)

    • Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season


    Patrick Reed

    • Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018

    • Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)

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    Day 'disappointed' in USGA's handling of course, Phil

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:16 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Jason Day had the weekend off following a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but that didn’t prevent the Aussie from keeping an eye on all the drama that unfolded at Shinnecock Hills.

    The former world No. 1 found it “disappointing,” – with “it” being both the deterioration of a major championship setup and the fallout from Phil Mickelson’s putter slap during the third round.

    Day is hoping to bounce back from an early exit at this week’s Travelers Championship, but before turning his attention to TPC River Highlands he shared that the brunt of his disappointment stemmed from the USGA’s inability to keep Shinnecock playable during the third round and their subsequent decision to water it down for the tournament’s conclusion.

    “It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    But Day’s frustration also tied back to Mickelson’s head-turning decision to hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round, and the USGA’s subsequent ruling that the actions merited a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.

    “It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”

    USGA officials explained over the weekend that Mickelson’s actions explicitly fell under Rule 14-5, which called for a two-shot addition and turned his score of 8 into a 10, rather than Rule 1-2 or Rule 33-7 that could have resulted in disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules.

    Day felt it was unfortunate that all of Saturday’s drama deflected attention from a world-class performance from Brooks Koepka en route to a successful title defense, but when it comes to the handling of the Mickelson controversy he believes the USGA could have made good use of a mulligan.

    “It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil,” Day said. “But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”