Notes Leftys Wrist White House Visit

By Associated PressJuly 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. -- It took some prodding, but Phil Mickelson acknowledged that he felt pain in his left wrist during his opening-round 4-over-par 74 at the AT&T National on Thursday.
 
Mickelson told reporters that his injured wrist was 'OK' and 'all right' several times before conceding that it hurt during a lackluster round in which he made two bogeys, a double bogey and no birdies. He is playing in his first tournament since wrist pain hindered him when he missed the cut at the U.S. Open three weeks ago.
 
Mickelson was cleared to play this week by a doctor and does not plan to withdraw. He finished the day tied for 93rd.
 
'I expect it to be OK,' Mickelson said. 'I was told that it may hurt, but I won't be doing any more damage. So I've been going after it pretty good, and it does hurt, but as long as I am not doing any more damage I'm OK.'
 
Mickelson wore a brace on his wrist during Wednesday's pro-am, after which he said his wrist was 'not quite a hundred' percent.
 
He played without the brace on Thursday and instead blamed his putting for his score. Mickelson double-bogeyed the par-4 sixth after his only three-putt of the round.
 
'I was a little rustier today than I thought I would be,' said Mickelson, who finished with 30 putts. 'I had been playing all last week. I thought I was playing pretty well and ... hit a reasonable number of good shots, but I scored terrible. The course wasn't that hard to keep it around par or under, and I really struggled on the greens. I didn't make any putts.'
 
WHITE HOUSE VISIT
Mickelson was one of seven golfers who, along with their families, celebrated the Fourth of July at the White House with President Bush on Wednesday evening.
 
The group toured the White House, ate dinner and watched fireworks on an evening that doubled as a birthday celebration for the President, who turns 61 on Friday. Fred Funk, Brad Faxon, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Paul Azinger and Jeff Maggert also attended.
 
'It was a great experience,' Funk said. 'I think my wife and I and everyone that was there was made to feel so comfortable. It was really laid back and a lot of fun.'
 
Of those golfers, Funk posted the best score Thursday with a 3-under-par 67, one stroke off the lead. The former University of Maryland golf coach is a hometown favorite among the galleries here, and he hopes to reward his local followers with his first area win.
 
'You put self-imposed pressure on you,' Funk said of his troubles in area tournaments. 'You want it so bad.'
 
Funk lamented his play off the tee Thursday after missing three of 14 fairways. He was 1-over after 10 holes but eagled the 415-yard par-4 11th and birdied Nos. 16 and 18. On 11, his 9-iron from 139 yards hit 6 inches from the hole, took one hop and dropped in.
 
'I was playing a little too conservative and a little too scared off the tee,' he said. 'I was mainly trying to stay out of that really thick rough that was out there because once you're in that stuff you're done, you're chipping out.'
 
FURYK AND FLUFF
Co-leader Jim Furyk shot a 4-under-par 66 with the help of a course expert.
 
Furyk's caddie, Mike 'Fluff' Cowan, is a member at Congressional Country Club and has navigated the Blue Course countless times. He also caddied here for Tiger Woods during the 1997 U.S. Open.
 
'He knows the greens pretty well,' Furyk said. 'He was able to help out the last time I was here on a few putts and today on a few key putts when he made some good reads. I still have to hit the golf shots, but I'm comfortable on this golf course already, and to have him ... know the golf course so well can only help.'
 
Furyk was accurate off the tee, as usual. The PGA TOUR's third-most accurate driver was steady and took few risks in hitting 12 of 14 fairways. He made three birdies on the front nine, gave back a stroke with a 3-putt bogey on the par-3 10th and birdied Nos. 13 and 16.
 
'I really kept the ball in front of myself today, hit a ton of fairways and I was able to knock a couple putts in here and there,' Furyk said.
 
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


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    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.