But Mickelson is not the story of the day in his sport.
Lefty conducts a four-day clinic at the BellSouth in Atlanta: Off the charts statistics; 28 under par; 28th PGA Tour victory; and two drivers in the bag simultaneously, an equipment choice he promises to continue at this weeks Masters in Augusta.
And the ladies in the California desert upstage him.
Karrie Webb returns from a forgotten place and holes a wedge that disappears into the 72d hole from more than a 100 yards away moments after we hear her caddie, in a half whisper, pray for it to be the right club today.
Then Michelle Wie, Lorena Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis'playing in the same group, stir us with their attempts to join Webb in a playoff at the LPGAs first major of the year.
Wie, 16, and Gulbis, 23, both fall one shot short. Both are still looking for their first LPGA victory. We will be watching closely. How can we not?
Ochoa, 24, stripes a 5-wood from 223 yards away that stops 12 feet from the hole. She drains the eagle putt and instantly exorcises the demons that invaded her psyche last year, most notably at the U.S. Womenss Open.
Webb birdies the first playoff hole and makes us wonder where she had been. She had been written off by harsher critics. She is only 53 weeks older than Tiger Woods. And isnt his career just coming into full flower?
To be sure, whats coming into full flower, in case you hadnt noticed, is the bud that is womens golf. Annika Sorenstam, the best female player in the world, wasnt a factor Sunday in California and the Kraft Nabisco still gave us high drama, high quality golf and high network visibility.
We even got yet another great call from CBS announcer Verne Lundquist, who, it seems, manages to be on the mike whenever anything great happens in golf. How Do You Do, he shouted at precisely the right volume at precisely the right time after Webbs eagle wedge found the hole.
How do you do?
The LPGA does quite nicely for itself these days, thank you very much.
Even better for womens golf, their Sunday-beautiful-Sunday came the week after the men commanded golfs theater at The Players Championship and the week before the men demanded that same theater at this weeks Masters. It came in between the two biggest days of the year in college basketball. It was serendipitous.
And already there is a buzz in anticipation of the McDonalds LPGA in June followed, weeks later, by the U.S. Womens Open.
Will it be Wies time? Is all that quality range time Gulbis has been spending with Butch Harmon about to pay off in spades? Will Annika come roaring back? How much will all of this push Paula Creamer? Can Webb win another major (shes only two behind Sorenstam now with seven)?
These are just a few of the questions we are now asking about womens golf.
It wasnt all that long ago we were asking what was wrong with the LPGA.
Karrie Webb won the tournament Sunday in California.
Womens golf won the day.
Woods: New putter should help on slower greens
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.
The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.
“To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”
To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.
“You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”
For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.
Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.
“I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”
Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.
“Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.
That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.
“You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”
"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel
Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie
Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open
To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.
“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”
Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:
- Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
- Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
- A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.
“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like
that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange
“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico
Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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