Mickelson looking to make U.S. Open history

By Damon HackJune 11, 2013, 6:47 pm

ARDMORE, Pa. - Phil Mickelson scaled the old stairs of the old clubhouse and ducked into the small room above the library.

His second practice round at Merion was behind him and he was looking to wrap his arms around history.

A stack of Ben Hogan ashtrays – with the Hawk wielding his 1-iron – sat on a shelf to his left. In front of Mickelson an array of vintage clubs, their once shiny faces gone dull.

And behind him, on a large table, a guest registry book for those who take the time to visit the Merion Golf Club archives.

Mickelson, right-handed in everything but golf, grabbed a pen and signed his name: “Phil Mickelson, Rancho Santa Fe, California.”

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Mickelson took in one last look at the memorabilia and disappeared down the stairs, where an onlooker wished him luck at the 113th United States Open, one of the few pieces of golf history he has been unable to wrap his arms around.

“Thank you,” said Mickelson, and then he was gone.

Like Sam Snead before him, Mickelson has never won the U.S. Open, but he is as much a part of its fabric as many of its winners.

He has finished runner-up five times, the first in 1999 when Payne Stewart held Mickelson’s head in his hands and told the soon-to-be-father that nothing would beat the feeling of being a dad.

In 2002, at Bethpage Black, the Cult of Mickelson was born as New York’s faithful put Phil on its shoulders as it tried – and nearly succeeded – in lifting him above Tiger Woods.

There was the three-putt on the 71st hole of the 2004 Open at Shinnecock Hills that ended his chase of Retief Goosen.

There was another mad dash at Bethpage in 2009, where Phil tried to bring the trophy home to his wife, Amy, who was in the throes of her battle with breast cancer.

And, of course, there was Winged Foot, in 2006, the one that stung him the most, shocked the golf world and stilled another New York gallery.

The sight of Mickelson crouched low on Winged Foot’s final green graced the cover of several magazines and at least one book.

The sound bite heard ’round the world – “I am such an idiot” – became a part of the game’s lexicon.

Phil recovered well enough, with another green jacket in 2010 plus 11 more PGA Tour victories besides.

But the U.S. Open has gone wanting, a championship that would elevate him from a Hall of Famer to an immortal.

During his two-day sojourn to Merion last week, Mickelson looked loose and happy.

Between the practice days, he attended a large dinner that included Matt Kuchar, Baltusrol head pro Doug Steffen and a number of movers and shakers of the Philadelphia golf scene.

Mickelson commands a room the way he commands a greenside bunker, ever confident in word and in deed, comfortable throwing some jabs and parrying them, too.

He was born in San Diego, but Mickelson has always been a better fit back east, where chattiness, a love of sports and a sharp wit make you a welcome guest in any home.

Mickelson once said that the greatest thing about being a Masters champion is the knowledge that every spring Augusta National’s doors will be open to you. It’s a lifetime ticket to golf’s most exclusive club, a locker upstairs, and a seat at the Champions Dinner, no reservation required.

Mickelson has sometimes awakened long before his Masters’ Thursday tee time, just to be present for the dawn tee shots of Arnie, Jack and Gary.

But the perks of winning a United States Open are no less important, the survival of golf’s most rigorous examination, the claiming of our national championship, the knowledge that you have walked where Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer have, where Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino have, where Tom Watson and Woods have.

Mickelson will celebrate his 43rd birthday on Father’s Day, a happy coincidence of the calendar that makes his chase of a U.S. Open all the more poignant.

His first of three children was born the day after Payne Stewart gave him that sage advice. His swing remains long and fluid, his nose for a golf hole as attuned as it has ever been.

And Mickelson’s yearning for golf history is endless, which is why he lingered in Merion’s archives, knowing that a little piece of Hogan and Bobby Jones lives in that room, and that if things go right this week, he will have left more than a signature in a guest book. 

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Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.

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Goose takes down junior golfer - it's awesome

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:33 pm

A goose evidently went into business for itself somewhere in Michigan and took down this high school golfer in dramatic, hilarious, photographed fashion. To the evidence we go ...

Per the Blissfield Athletics Twitter account, "The golfers just finished teeing off and were walking down the fairway. To the left there was a goose nest and the golfers did a good job of avoiding it but the guard goose hanging out on the far right thought differently."

Just so we can all continue laughing, the Blissfield account confirmed the kid was OK.

If you're looking for related content, check out Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and this video:

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It's official: Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 6:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – The longest-running PGA Tour event still played at its original site has a new title sponsor, one already deeply involved in golf.

The PGA Tour and Colonial Country Club announced Monday that financial services provider Charles Schwab & Co. will take over as title sponsor starting in 2019. The four-year agreement goes through 2022.

Local companies are backing the event after upscale grocer Dean and Deluca withdrew as title sponsor after only two tournaments of a six-year deal. The companies include American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

Charles Schwab is already a major sponsor on the PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour Champions, the Charles Schwab Cup is awarded to the season's top player.

Next month's tournament at Colonial, which has hosted since 1946, will be played as the Fort Worth Invitational.