What Did Phil Do Last
First of all, he won the tournament on Thursday and Friday.
Yes, I know, he birdied the 72nd hole Monday morning to officially stake out his claim to the Wanamaker Trophy. But Mickelson opened with a 3-under par 67 Thursday that earned a share of the first-round lead. He followed that with a Friday 65 that neatly placed him three shots ahead of the field.and, perhaps more importantly, 12 shots ahead of Tiger Woods.
Know this: Mickelson pays a lot more attention to Woods than Woods does to Mickelson. And the comfort level of being a dozen shots ahead of the worlds top-ranked player was a clear advantage for Mickelson heading into the weekend.
They say you cant win the golf tournament on Thursday or Friday. And, strictly speaking, that is correct. But in retrospect, Woods may have lost this one with his opening round 75. And, in the end, Mickelson would turn out to need every bit of the cushion he built. His winning total of 4-under was one better than runners up Thomas Bjorn and Steve Elkington.
Every shot counts one. Doesnt matter what day.
Secondly, we must now consider that Mickelson should not be ignored any more going into any major. Not many people figured him, in advance, to be in the final mix at Baltusrol, mainly because his three victories this year came early in the season and his performance in the three previous 2005 majors had been mostly indifferent.
Basically, Mickelson was written off. He arrived at the PGA in no particular kind of good form. And it was hard to ignore the fact that his final-round scores in the four most recent majors were 76, 74, 74 and 74, respectively.
Now we know Mickelson can turn on the jets at a major at any time. Ignore him in future majors at your own peril.
Finally, the critics that have charged Mickelson with paralysis by analysis need to stand silent. He has won two of the last eight majors and those results are hard to question.
Mickelson has a top-100 swing coach in Rick Smith. His interaction with short game guru Dave Pelz clearly has been beneficial. And his physical therapist, Sean Cochran, was present at Baltusrol. Sources in the Mickelson camp told me Phil worked out with Cochran at least an hour each day the week of the tournament.
Of course Mickelsons weight fluctuates from month-to-month. And he will never be the poster boy for Golds Gym. But Mickelson should get some modicum of credit for not ignoring fitness altogether.
Mickelson also has decided playing the week before a major is best for him after having visited the venue prior to that. In the case of Baltusrol he spent 10 hours with head pro Doug Steffen, picking his brain, 10 days before the PGA.
Steffen subsequently told me nobody else in the field, among the tour pros, asked him about the golf course.
So dont be surprised if other players take notice of Mickelsons method and his success. Woods got everybody into the gym when it became clear he was gaining an advantage with his fitness. Mickelsons modus operandi may become something of a gold standard going forward as the top players look for ways to better prepare for major championships.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.
There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.
The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.
There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.
It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.
Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol
Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.
Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET
Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.
“The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.
Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros
Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.
She wondered if there would be resentment.
She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.
“I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”
PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.
Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.
She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.
Fans have been stopping her for autographs.
“It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”
Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.
He waved Lincicome over.
“He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”
Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.
“The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.
Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.
Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.
“I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.
Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.
Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.
Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.
What are Lincicome’s expectations?
She would love to make the cut, but . . .
“Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”
Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.
“I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”
Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.
Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.
As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.
“The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”
Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.
The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.
“She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”
Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown
There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.
Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.
She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.
It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.
Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.
"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”
Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.