Phil Physically Mentally Ready for New Season

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Bob Hope Chrysler ClassicPALM DESERT, Calif. -- Maybe he was being a little reckless, taking too many risks, or simply found trouble at the wrong time. Whatever the case, it was a crash Phil Mickelson won't forget, and he confessed Tuesday that it left a scar.

He was talking, of course, about a skiing accident that kept him off the PGA TOUR for three months.

'A scar happened in '94 when I broke my leg and they cut it open and stuck in a rod,' Mickelson said. 'That's a scar.'

His double bogey on the 72nd hole at the U.S. Open?

That was a lesson.

'Losing the Open obviously hurt,' Mickelson said. 'But losing the PGA in 2001 hurt. Losing the Masters a number of years hurt. And losing the U.S. Open in 2004 making double (bogey) on 17 hurt. That's part of the game. And so I think it's a challenge to try to get past that, but it's also an opportunity to identify a weakness and improve it.

'And hopefully,' he added, 'improve my performances from here on out.'

Mickelson makes his 2007 debut Wednesday at the Bob Hope Classic, and he probably won't have to wait long to see what he learned. Fourteen of his 29 victories on the PGA TOUR have come on the West Coast, and he has won the Hope twice since 2002.

It will be his first time inside the ropes since the Ryder Cup, though some might argue he didn't play there, either. Mickelson looked dazed at The K Club and went 0-4-1 for an American team that got waxed.

He really hasn't shown up anywhere since that infamous meltdown on a late Sunday afternoon at Winged Foot.

Mickelson had a two-shot lead with four holes to play in the final round of the U.S. Open, an amazing feat considering he couldn't find the fairway. It caught up to him on the 18th when he hit driver so far to the left that it clattered off trees and a corporate tent, sending him to a double bogey that left him one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy.

It wasn't the worst collapse; that goes to Colin Montgomerie, who made his double bogey with a 7-iron from the fairway. But crashes seem to look more spectacular involving Phil the Thrill.

He played five more tournaments the rest of the year, his best finish a tie for 16th at the PGA Championship.

And the speculation began.

What's wrong with Phil? How will he ever recover from such an ignominious failure?

All of which was misguided thinking.

Don't use the tail end of 2006 as evidence of emotional scar tissue, because Lefty rarely plays his best golf after the U.S. Open. Since his first full season on TOUR in 1993, only one-third of his top 10s and eight of his 29 victories occurred after the second major (that includes Pebble Beach in 1998, which ended in August).

And it's not like that was the first time Mickelson has been haunted by failure. Jack Nicklaus was runner-up 19 times in the majors, and don't think he wouldn't like to have a couple of those back. Tiger Woods went bogey-bogey in the 2005 U.S. Open when he was on the verge of tracking down Michael Campbell.

The guys more affected by calamity are those who only get one crack at a major -- Jean Van de Velde at Carnoustie in the 1999 British Open, Mike Reid at the 1989 PGA Championship, Ed Sneed at the 1979 Masters.

'Phil is in a different category,' Annika Sorenstam said.

Sorenstam knows what it's like to blow a major. She was a lock to make birdie at worst and join a playoff in the 2003 U.S. Women's Open when her 4-wood nearly went into a portable toilet and she made bogey. What happened? She won the Women's British Open a month later to complete the career Grand Slam.

'I'm sure Phil's going to bounce back,' she said. 'We all know he's super talented, and that (U.S. Open) hasn't crossed my mind. He's a guy who can come back and win majors.'

But even Mickelson knows better than to simply expect that to happen.

He referred to the 2001 PGA Championship at Atlanta, when he was tied for the lead with David Toms until a three-putt from 50 feet on the 16th hole cost him a shot that he never got back.

'I looked back at that event and realized my lag putting needs to improve, because I'm not going to win majors if my lag putting isn't better,' Mickelson said. 'After imploring the help of Dave Pelz, we developed drills to improve my lag putting, and it's led to two Masters wins, as well as a PGA, on some quick greens.'

The lesson from Winged Foot was to drive the ball in the short grass -- more specifically, to eliminate the tee shot that goes left.

He analyzed his swing and his equipment. Mickelson has been working with Callaway Golf on a new driver with more weight in the heel. He didn't want to talk shop on the swing, only to say he wants to get the club face square a little more quickly.

'So now, we've addressed that with equipment, we've addressed it through instruction, and I'm really excited about 2007, because I really think that shot is going to be eliminated the majority of the time,' he said.

The other lesson for Mickelson -- and this is nothing new -- was to look like he spends more time in the gym than at In-N-Out Burger.

One reason Lefty has done so well the first five months of the season is because he runs out of gas in the summer, and it doesn't help carrying excess baggage. One exception was in 2004, when he came within five shots at a chance of winning all four majors. And why did he play so well all year?

'I was in better shape,' he said.

Lefty says he has lost 20 or 25 pounds during his long offseason and put on 15 pounds of muscle by including weightlifting to his regimen for the first time. He does cardio work for an hour a day, and he started a new martial arts program.

Where this will lead is anyone's guess.

Learning from his mistakes has never been a problem for Mickelson. The question is usually how soon before he forgets.

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    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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    'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

    By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

    “The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

    Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

    Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

    A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

    "Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

    Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

    He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

    Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

    “It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

    "The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

    In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

    “I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

    The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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    Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

    Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

    Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

    “Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

    The problem was an expired visa.

    Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

    No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

    His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

    One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

    His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

    “Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

    He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

    “It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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    'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

    Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

    “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

    The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

    “That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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    Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

    “They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

    “The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”