Notes Mickelson MIA Funk Just Says No

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Phil Mickelson won the Masters and lost the U.S. Open on the 72nd hole.
 
At the third major, he has been reduced to a couch potato.
 
'It's going to be an interesting day watching the leaders play,' Mickelson said Saturday after needing a birdie-par-eagle finish for a 73, leaving him 10 shots out of the lead in the British Open. 'I just wish I was one of the leaders.'
 
Mickelson reached 4 under after his first 10 holes of this championship, but has been sliding ever since. He didn't make his first birdie Saturday until the par-5 16th hole.
 
'After I was 3 over after nine and realizing that the chances of winning were not there, I just wanted to play well, hit good shots and keep grinding, and see if I could get it to turn. The last three holes were nice. That was good, but not quite enough.'
 
Mickelson twice made special trips to Hoylake to study the course, although he mentioned at the start of the week that no matter how well he understands the subtle nuances, it still comes down to hitting shots.
 
'I want to really get together one good round of golf,' he said. 'I know I can do that here.'
 
FUNK JUST SAYS NO
Fred Funk spent two weeks on the Champions Tour and decided it could wait.
 
'We're not quite mentally ready for that jump over,' Funk said.
 
Funk tied for 11th in the U.S. Senior Open, his debut in the 50-and-over circuit, then tied for 11th last week at the Senior Players Championship. He had planned to stick around next week for the Senior British Open at Turnberry, but never submitted his entry and will not play.
 
In fact, the only Champions Tour event he will play the rest of the year will be in San Antonio.
 
Funk has the luxury of taking his time, having won The Players Championship last year at age 48. That came with a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour that takes him through 2010, and with more than $18 million in career money, he could even take an exemption after that.
 
'The Players has really thrown a wrench into this,' he said.
 
Funk didn't have a miserable experience with guys his own age, he's simply not ready to give up trying against the best players in the world. He mentioned good friends he already had, such as Loren Roberts and Jay Haas, and new acquaintances Jim Thorpe and Dana Quigley.
 
The ultimate late bloomer, he has qualified for the last three U.S. teams (twice the Presidents Cup, once the Ryder Cup) and has been to the Tour Championship the last four years.
 
'I'm just not finished out here yet,' he said.
 
Also, his children are 14, 10 and 6, and the family travels everywhere. Most of their friends remain on the PGA Tour.
 
Funk says he is hitting the ball better than he was last year, just not getting the same results. His best chance came at New Orleans, where he closed with a 62 and nearly got into a playoff until Chris Couch saved par by chipping in from behind the 18th green.
 
The more he spoke Saturday afternoon after a 75 left him toward the bottom of the pack, Funk sounded as though competing against the best would be as meaningful as winning on the Champions Tour.
 
'There's nothing like winning,' Funk said. 'Once I start having trouble finishing off tournaments, and the frustration sets in, I'll probably think about going over there.'
 
In the meantime, he will leave the British Open for Milwaukee, play the Buick Open, PGA Championship and Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, and continue competing on the PGA Tour with hopes of getting into the Tour Championship again.
 
TIMELY ACE
John Senden lost all momentum when he took triple bogey on the 11th after losing his ball in high grass. The consolation came two holes later with a 6-iron that went into the cup for an ace on the par-3 13th.
 
'I didn't see it go in as there was a hill just short of the green,' Senden said. 'Pretty good cheer.'
 
Senden wound up with a 73 after an up-and-down day. He had two birdies, the hole-in-one for an eagle and no bogeys. The trouble was that triple at No. 11, and a double-bogey 7 on the 18th hole when he hit into three bunkers.
 
The highlight, obviously, was the ace.
 
'It's exciting when things happen like that, and it certainly will jog my memory when I'm thinking about this place,' he said.
 
A TIP FOR CABRERA
Angel Cabrera is one of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour, and he's not afraid to use driver at Royal Liverpool -- especially after playing with Seve Ballesteros during a practice round earlier this week.
 
'I said to Seve, 'How do you play this golf course?' And Seve said, 'The closer you get it to the green, the more chance you have.' And that's the way it's played,' Cabrera said.
 
While Tiger Woods has hit only one driver in three rounds at Hoylake, the Argentine is hitting driver 'whenever I can.' The only time he used an iron off the tee was on Nos. 2, 4 and 8.
 
'Everywhere else I hit driver,' he said. 'Except the par 3s.'
 
Cabrera has played all three days with Mark Calcavecchia, another guy who likes to swing from the heels
 
'I get on well with him,' he said. 'He's easy to play with.'
 
Calcavecchia, who won the British Open in 1989, won the Argentine Open in 1993 and 1995.
 
SHOWTIME
Scott Verplank finished his 67 before Tiger Woods and Ernie Els headed for the practice range. Verplank reached 6 under, which at least gave him a shot to pick up Ryder Cup points if he can play well Sunday to get into the top 10.
 
A TV reporter asked if he would go back to his room and watch the 'confrontation' between Woods and Els.
 
'They are both supremely talented players and it's going to be fun, and hopefully, it will be good back-and-forth and nip-and-tuck,' Verplank said. 'And if it isn't, I'll probably take a nap.'
 
DIVOTS
Paul Casey took two triple bogeys, both times from the bunker. It took him three shots to get out of the bunker at No. 10, and two shots to escape a bunker on the 14th. He wound up with a 79. 'It wasn't the number of bunkers, it was the number of shots I took to get out,' he said. ... Sergio Garcia's 29 on the front nine was one shot shy of the British Open record for nine holes. Denis Durnian had a 28 at Royal Birkdale in 1983. Garcia will go into the final round having not made a bogey in 23 holes. ... Hideto Tanihara, in just his second career major, was three shots off the lead in seventh place. No player from Japan has won a major title; the country's best finish at the British Open was turned in by Massy Kuramoto, who tied for fourth in 1982.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

    Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

    But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

    "Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

    Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

    Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

    "I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

    Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

    "I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

    Getty Images

    Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

    Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

    Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

    But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

    "Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

    It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

    "I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."

    Getty Images

    Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

    SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

    Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

    ''I hope I win more,'' Kang said. ''I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.''

    Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

    Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

    The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

    Getty Images

    New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

    By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

    If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

    Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

    “You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

    In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

    And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

    But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

    Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

    He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    “To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

    What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

    Who’s the best at their best?

    In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

    It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

    But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good to be overlooked any longer.

    And he’s far from done.

    “For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”