Mickelson The One Man Hot Topic
We also throw in a little Michelle Wie for good measure.
Without further ado:
Art writes: As a long time Phil Mickelson fan I too am somewhat puzzled by his lack of sharpness so far. He didnt look like he was physically fit and his game looks like he decided to get ready by playing on the tour because he doesnt look like hes hit many shots during his break. However, maybe this is his rope-a dope season. Hell let all the others take their shots and then hell come out for the majors and gun down the field. Probably not. For whatever reason, he just doesnt look right this year YET. Personally I think he needs to go with one coach. Id go with Butchie and forget Pelz. Phil is too analytical as it is and with Pelz he gets worse. Hell remain my man as some of this is what makes PhilPhil. By the way, if I were his trainer I would tell him to work the waistline harder or lose the wide white belts.
THE COMEBACKER: Ah, yes, the belt. The Comebacker has a lot of heat to pass along about the belt. My take: If golf were only about fitness and style, Camilo Villegas would be No. 1 in the world. But its not and hes not.
Greg writes: I believe that Phil has a serious wardrobe malfunction that began at the end of last season with the terrible looking skin tight shirts that he began wearing, especially restrictive around the bicep area. Also, the white belt that he had on Sunday looked absolutely atrocious. The fact of the matter could be that he is in a midlife crisis or he needs a new wardrobe manager ASAP. Either that or he needs to let his wife do his clothes for the week; I guarantee if she mentioned anything about that belt on Sunday, we'll never see it again. The Phil that most fans really respect and admire was the most smartly dressed man on the course, did not worry about any fashion sense at all because the neatness of old never gets old. The Phil that I'm sure will show up in the next few weeks is the Phil that is refocused on the moment and lets his clubs do the talking, which we all know he will do sooner rather than later.
THE COMEBACKER: Greg, who died and appointed you the golf fashion czar? As for Phils game, he could have a bad year and win twice just on talent alone. Matter of fact, I think thats what he did last year.
David writes: I am not usually in agreement with Brian Hewitt, but this time he's right. I have been a huge fan of Mickelson for many years. I cried when he won his first Masters. But even I have had enough and am only giving him one more chance. I watched in horror the various mediocre exhibitions put on in 08. This year I am now feeling the tease from my golf partners as to 'whats up with your boy?' This is it Phil, get your @#$% together or I'm rooting for Camilo.
THE COMEBACKER: First of all, The Comebacker always agrees with Brian Hewitt. That would be because The Comebacker IS Brian Hewitt. Second of all, in case anybody isnt sure, Camilo is the guy with the better belts.
Rich writes: I guess what I want to know is.........who cares about rankings except you guys? The PGA tour is a job where you make money, not friends. I love golf and I enjoy watching the Tour, but, all of this silliness about rankings, and babies is nonsense. I know it is your job to put out such crap, but you have to start realizing the majority of viewers are golfers and we already know everything you all espouse day after day. It is boring and a non-event as they all are. Give us all a break and talk about something that has value.
THE COMEBACKER: Like it or not, the birth of Tiger Woods children is news. And believe me, there are 64 guys who care a lot about the world rankings. Those would be the guys getting into the WGC-Accenture Match Play off the rankings posted next Monday morning.
Gloria writes: I think Phil has a big head and a bigger ego. He has screwed up his head so much with equipment that he doesn't know which way his tee shots will go. You can drive the ball as far as you like, but if your short game is crap it doesn't matter how far you drive the ball. I am sick and tired of the sports announcers making excuses for Phil's bad course management and bad play. Let's tell it like it is. Thank you for letting me vent. I am just so sick and tired to Phil.
THE COMEBACKER: All right, you guys (and gals) are starting to wear me down with all this Phil-bashing. And, to be sure, the preponderance of the E-mails is anti-Phil. Does anybody care that this guy, even if he never makes a cut the rest of his career, is a first ballot Hall of Famer?
Todd writes: Your words: We don't want to sound like were picking on you (Phil), BUT that's exactly what youre doing. Phil says some things sometimes that make you wonder. So do you, thats how you make a living criticizing people. Maybe he'll have a better middle or later part of the season success, who knows....Seems to me youre jealous. Phil can't help he makes more money in his free time than you and your entire family combined....Its just amazing how the Golf Channel looks for the first opportunity to rip into Phil, even though he's without a doubt one of the best in his generation. Why didn't you rip John Rollins, when he clearly choked coming down the stretch at Torrey. Now if that were Phil you would throw it in his face every time he tees it up this year. Now at times criticizing him is right, but you guy's do it constantly.
THE COMEBACKER: Todd, youve said a mouthful. About the only thing I agree with is the John Rollins point. And, by the way, quit peeking at my pay stubs.
Steven writes: I believe that Phil is mentally and physically going down the wrong slope. With his teachers of Rick and Dave I really think they are playing with his head too much. With his white belt it really shows that Phil is really living the good life. If I was him, I would work on his game by stopping everyone telling him that he can produce miracle shots with a new driver. Go down to his basement and look himself in the mirror and say What do I wont to do with my golfing career? I really think Phil could sharpen his game and his mind set by himself. Take off a few pounds off and work on his body mass.
THE COMEBACKER: For starters, Phils teachers (last time I checked) were Butch and Dave. As for the weight thing, Phils never going to be svelte. Its a subcutaneous thing. Finally, most people I know dont need to go to the basement to look in the mirror.
Thomas writes: Unless you have been in this man's shoes, you do NOT know- I am a golf fan; At 50, I can go back to Jack's early days when he was not very popular for displacing Arnie as 'king'. I cannot think of another golfer (with three majors and more than 30 Tour wins) picked upon, micro-analyzed, etc --?? Tom Weiskopf? Independent of how he plays early this season, Phil will be welcomed to Bethpage by adoring N.Y. golf fans. Why? Because he shows his love for the game with an affinity for the fans and a respect to acknowledge them on the course- Have you seen him play and compared his 'on course likeability' to others? Very few beat him. Lighten up on Phil! He is not Tiger, but he truly aspires to be in a final pairing with Tiger.
THE COMEBACKER: Finally, somebody on Phils side. And to be clear, here: Phil is one of the most popular players of all time. He also happens to be an easy target for e-mailers who dont have to look him in the eye.
Jean writes: I am tired of hearing about spoiled brat Wie. She needs to grow up and learn she is not the only player on the (LPGA) Tour.
THE COMEBACKER: Spoiled? Maybe a couple of years ago. A brat? I never saw that side of Michelle Wie. You might be surprised at the 19-year-old version of Michelle Wie. Her life has calmed down quite about and, yes, shes growing up.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Schauffele just fine being the underdog
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.
Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.
Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.
“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”
Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.
“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”
Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1
Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.
So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.
Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.
Jordan Spieth: 7/4
Xander Schauffele: 5/1
Kevin Kisner: 11/2
Tiger Woods: 14/1
Francesco Molinari: 14/1
Rory McIlroy: 14/1
Kevin Chappell: 20/1
Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1
Alex Noren: 25/1
Zach Johnson: 30/1
Justin Rose: 30/1
Matt Kuchar: 40/1
Webb Simpson: 50/1
Adam Scott: 80/1
Tony Finau: 80/1
Charley Hoffman: 100/1
Austin Cook: 100/1
Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.
For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.
By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.
But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.
As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.
“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”
Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.
As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.
But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.
After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.
“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”
But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.
Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.
“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.
There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.
Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par.
And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.
As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.
“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”
Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.
Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.
The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.
Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.
It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.
Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.
One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.
McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.
“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”
McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.
“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”