Love should have deviated from plan with Phil, Keegan

By Damon HackOctober 2, 2012, 3:26 pm

Ian Poulter’s eyes defined the 39th Ryder Cup.

But did you see Phil Mickelson’s?

You don’t win 40 PGA Tour events without a love of the chase, so Mickelson got bug-eyed himself, oohing and aahing at his new BFF, Keegan Bradley, and clapping for Justin Rose as the Englishman sank a mile of putts coming home.

Phil’s been on both sides of a sprint like that. At the Ryder Cup, he was at his sporting best.

Sobel: Debunking U.S. Ryder Cup myths

Before Phil met Keegan, the U.S. Ryder Cup team had been searching for an equivalent to Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal. Seve and Ollie arrived at the perfect time for the Ryder Cup. They helped turn an exhibition into a compelling art, displaying so much fire that they could will 10 other men to victory.

Which is exactly why you don’t sit Phil and Keegan in Saturday’s afternoon fourball match, not with the Medinah gallery at full tilt and the Europeans on the ropes.

If you’re Davis Love III, you rip up the script after Mickelson and Bradley’s 7-and-6 victory over Lee Westwood and Luke Donald in the Saturday morning foursomes. You don’t rest them, not with a 3-0 record. You worry about Sunday on Sunday. You get all of Saturday’s points while you can.

As the story goes, Love decided before the competition that no one would play five matches. When Phil and Keegan arrived to the first tee on Saturday morning, they said they would put everything they had into that match because they weren’t playing in the afternoon. At the 10th hole, already comfortably ahead of Westwood and Donald, Davis approached Phil.

“You’re seeing our best,” Mickelson said he told his captain. “You cannot put us in the afternoon. Emotionally and mentally we are not prepared for it, but we have other guys who are dying to get out here.”

Love and Mickelson are two of the game’s gentlemen. The U.S. was cruising. Phil was being diplomatic. But Love should have waved him off and deviated from his game plan. You worry about Sunday on Sunday. You get all of Saturday’s points while you can.

Phil and Keegan didn’t get an opportunity to win a fourth point on Saturday afternoon, to ride that wave of momentum just a little bit longer. And neither won his match Sunday, even with that afternoon rest.

It’s all hindsight now, of course. Few outside of the European team room saw Sunday coming, with Luke taking out Bubba Watson, Justin Rose channeling Justin Leonard, and Poulter morphing into a latter-day Seve.

The U.S. had many other opportunities to snuff out Europe’s rise. Tiger Woods went 0-3-1, extending his mediocre record in the biennial matches. Steve Stricker, chosen as a wild-card pick for his putting, misfired on the greens most of the weekend. Jim Furyk, with a chance to salvage his season, dropped a crucial point to Sergio Garcia in singles.

Soon, Medinah was covered with the waving blue flags of Europe.

Days later, it’s still hard to know exactly what happened. Maybe it’s a cosmic makeup for the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline. Or maybe it’s just golf.

Whatever it is, Love, Mickelson and Bradley will be thinking about it for a long time.

They won’t be alone.

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."