Notes: Mickelson 'not sharp mentally' in Rd. 1 of WGC

By Associated PressAugust 1, 2013, 11:32 pm

AKRON, Ohio – He was in the Buckeye state, but his head was still in Scotland.

Phil Mickelson, yet to escape a British Open hangover, shot a 2-over 72 and was stuck in the middle of the pack Thursday after the first round of the Bridgestone Invitational.

''Today I had a hard time focusing,'' said Mickelson, who missed 3-foot par putts on the sixth and seventh holes. ''Mentally I wasn't sharp. I could tell I was a little bit tired or I just wasn't able to see the shot clearly. I just had a hard time visualizing and seeing the shot today.''

No one could really blame Mickelson for hanging on to thoughts of his last tournament. He climbed from well off the pace Sunday, birdieing four of the final six holes for a stirring victory in the British Open at Muirfield two weeks ago.

Mickelson spent time at home with his family after flying overseas after the stunning triumph, his fifth major championship, and also went to Oak Hill to prepare for next week's final major of the year, the PGA Championship. He came to Firestone Country Club saying he wanted to use his time in Ohio to concentrate on his game.

Even though he felt he was focused on the task at hand, he understood how he could be distracted after such a remarkable win.

Asked if he had found it difficult to deal with the next tournament after winning a major, he said he'd been down this road before.

''I am aware of it. I'll try to make sure I'm a bit more rested and sharp heading into the weekend,'' he said. ''But it does happen. It's a good problem to have.''


WEATHER REPORT: It rained overnight, deadening the greens just enough so that the first players off the tee could take advantage by tossing shots directly at the flags.

''It's soft,'' Ryan Moore said after a 66. ''The greens are receptive, so you can hit 5-irons and 4-irons into the greens and stop them around the hole. It (the course) was longer, but still scoreable.''

Some of those who had practiced all week on a relatively dry and fast layout said the rain didn't make things easier, but harder.

''I played quite a nice shot and it lands quite dead,'' said English pro Chris Wood, making his first appearance ever at the Bridgestone. ''It didn't release as far as I thought and it took quite a few holes to get used to that.''

Moore played in the third group off the tee. Tiger Woods, who was in the fifth twosome starting on the 10th hole, said the conditions would get more difficult as the wind blew and the moisture disappeared.

''It'll get quicker, there's no doubt,'' he said.

And it did.


OH, NO, NOT AGAIN: Tiger Woods has said repeatedly how happy he is with his swing. Well, except for one, anyway.

At the ninth hole, his last of the day in a round of 66, he didn't exactly produce a classic stroke.

''It was a high, hammered snap-hook,'' he said with a smile. ''I hit all of it. It was nice. It was beautiful.''

The ball ended up in the middle of the fairway - the 10th fairway.

''Hey, I count it as a fairway hit,'' Woods cracked.

In the second round of the 2006 Bridgestone, Woods had famously hit an overcooked 9-iron that caromed high off a cart path and ricocheted atop the clubhouse roof at Firestone Country Club. He would go on to win the fifth of his seven Bridgestone titles.

Woods was asked if his shot on Thursday was ever in jeopardy of ending up on the roof.

''No,'' he said with a laugh. ''If I hit that one from the middle of a fairway onto a roof, you could take my name off the bag.''


YOU CAN COME HOME AGAIN: Jason Dufner spent the first 11 years of his life living in and around Cleveland, not far away from where he's toiling this week.

He played Little League baseball, made lots of friends and even walked the Firestone course during his younger days. Then his parents divorced and he moved away.

After a long and circuitous trip through golf's minor leagues, Dufner has made it to the big stage. He played in the Bridgestone for the very first time a year ago, finishing seventh. In Thursday's opening round, he put up a 3-under 67 on the board.

''I have some family and relatives and friends here that come out and support (me),'' he said. ''There's probably 15 or 20 people here. I hear a lot of good support out there. People know I was born here and lived here for a while and still have some family here, so it's always good to come back to Northeast Ohio.''

Despite not spending much time in the area for more than two decades, he still feels at home at Firestone. He opened with rounds of 67 and 66 for sole possession of fourth place a year ago at the Bridgestone before shooting 73 and 68 on the weekend.

''That was about the same type of round to start the week as last year,'' Dufner, now 36 and living in Auburn, Ala., said about his first round Thursday. ''It's a good golf course for me. It feels all right with my game.''


MONSTROUS CHALLENGE: The signature hole at Firestone is the 667-yard, par-5 16th. In the days of wood woods when only the longest hitters could go 300 yards off the tee, it was a daunting task to even reach the green - with a placid but threatening pond in front - in three shots.

That's not the case anymore, although the hole Arnold Palmer dubbed ''The Monster'' - after he made a triple bogey in the 1960 PGA Championship is still a load for even the biggest hitters.

Now even those who can't play the hole can at least get a feel of what it's like to baby an approach shot to the undulating green.

Fans can hit two shots at a faux, 33-yard Monster, made out of green carpet with a mini-water hazard in front of the plastic-grass green. There's netting that prevents shanked shots from, say, decking Zach Johnson over on the 10th tee. It also eliminates the possibility of a skilled player lofting a high flop shot anywhere near the hole.

Dan Crowe, who manages the interactive site, said more than 900 people played the hole on Wednesday, with that number expected to rise each day through the weekend.

If one of your shots ends up on the green, you win a sleeve of golf balls. Hole a shot - like one lucky participant did - and you receive a $150 gift card toward either Bridgestone tires or golf equipment.

This much is certain: No one will be acing the real ''Monster.''


STARTLING STAT: Tiger Woods has won 41 percent of his World Golf Championship starts. He's 3 for 13 in the Match Play event, 7 of 13 in both the Bridgestone and the Cadillac Championship and is 0 for 2 in the HSBC. That's 17 of 41 heading into this week's Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club.

Oh, and he has finished in the top 10 in 32 of 41 of those WGC tournaments - although he's won only one of the last 11 in which he's played.


DIVOTS: For a change, Woods wasn't the most photographed player in his group. A large number of photographers, most of them on hand to detail every move made by playing partner Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, followed the twosome. ... Rickie Fowler, asked if he's flattered when he sees a lot of kids dressed like him: ''I love it. I saw it all day for 18 holes, so it's fun. Whether I'm having a good day or bad, I can look over and see the kids running around. It's an easy way to put a smile on your face.'' ... Rory McIlroy, trying to get his game untracked before defending his PGA crown at Oak Hill, shot a 70. ... Second-place Henrik Stenson got off on the right foot: birdie, eagle. He parred every other hole except for birdies at 11 and 12 in a 65.

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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.



Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.