Pinehurst Special Place for Mickelson

By Associated PressJune 15, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Phil Mickelson brought his family to the U.S. Open this week, and not just to watch him play golf.
 
He wanted his wife to see where he stayed that eventful week in 1999. He wanted his daughter to understand what happened six years ago when her dad would have given up his chance at an Open title to be able to witness her birth.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson hopes to earn his first U.S. Open title this week.
He wanted them to understand the emotions of frustration and then joy that he felt as he lost an Open and gained a daughter within the space of 24 hours.
 
'We tell the story to our daughter Amanda about her birth and how it all took place and the story about it,' Mickelson said earlier this week. 'It'll be fun for her to be at the place that we've been talking about all these years.'
 
Mickelson was not yet a father on Father's Day 1999, but it seemed he was about to become something else he also wanted badly to be ' an Open champion.
 
He came to North Carolina the night before the Open began, not wanting to leave his expectant wife, Amy, any longer than he had to. He came wearing a beeper that would go off if Amy's water broke.
 
And he came promising everyone he would leave immediately if that happened. Becoming a father, he said, was more important than winning an Open.
 
During the day he played golf ' and played it well. At night, he and Amy talked long hours on the phone about becoming parents for the first time.
 
'My wife and I shared something very special, not only the day after the event ended but throughout the whole week,' Mickelson said. 'We were talking on the phone, talking about how she was feeling, talking about Amanda kicking and the things she was doing.'
 
Mickelson was already stuck with the label of being the best player who had never won a major, and it didn't seem that would be his week. Not only was he preoccupied with Amy's pregnancy, but he had never set foot on Pinehurst No. 2 before.
 
That didn't seem to matter on Thursday when, beeper in his bag, Mickelson opened with a 67 for a share of the first round lead. He came into the interview area afterward and told a disbelieving media he would pack up his clubs and go home when the beeper went off, no matter if he was leading the Open.
 
'It's not worth the tournament,' he insisted. 'As important as the U.S. Open is to me and every other player in the field, this is the birth of my first child.'
 
Mickelson followed with rounds of 70 and 73 and was a stroke behind Payne Stewart entering the final round. The beeper still hadn't gone off and now Mickelson moved into the lead on the back nine on Father's Day.
 
Standing on the 16th fairway ahead by a shot, Mickelson thought the Open was his to lose. Then Stewart saved par with a 25-footer on 16, Mickelson missed his 6-foot par putt and Stewart birdied the 17th with a 6-iron to 3 feet.
 
Mickelson still had a shot. Stewart was in trouble on 18, and Lefty's 25-foot birdie putt stopped just inches short. He then watched as Stewart stood over his 15-footer to win in the fading light and stroked it into the cup for the win.
 
Stewart celebrated, then went up to Mickelson, grabbed both sides of his face and said to him, 'Good luck with the baby. There's nothing like being a father.'
 
'I was so focused and I really thought I was going to win the tournament and it was kind of a shock to me that it didn't happen,' Mickelson said.
 
Stewart's putt didn't just go down in Open history. It also prevented a Monday playoff that might have been a one-man affair.
 
Amy's water broke the next day, just about the time the playoff would have started. By then, Mickelson had already flown in his private jet home and was with her for Amanda's birth.
 
'I would have left,' Mickelson said, assuming there was a playoff. 'I would have just made it back probably.'
 
Six years later, Mickelson returns to Pinehurst still looking for his first Open win. This time he's more prepared, having spent several days working on his short game around the tricky domed greens on No. 2 and trying to keep his driver under control for the tight fairways.
 
He's no longer the best player never to win a major ' his Masters win last year eliminated that tag ' but Mickelson is eager to win a bunch more. He came close two more times last year, and credits his improved play to coming prepared with a game plan.
 
'That's been exciting for me because my performance in the majors has improved dramatically,' he said. 'My consistency in the majors has improved.'
 
Mickelson is now the father of three, and he knows there wouldn't be a better Father's Day present than to be able to celebrate with his family while holding the Open trophy.
 
Amanda, who turns 6 next week, could celebrate with her dad just like she did at the Masters last year when Mickelson held her in his arms and said:
 
'Daddy won! Can you believe it?'
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

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    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."

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    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."

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    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).


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    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.

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    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.


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    “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.”