Big differences between Tiger and Phil

By Doug FergusonSeptember 30, 2010, 12:05 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are closer than ever in the world ranking, but far apart in personalities.

“They couldn’t be any more different,” Hunter Mahan said.

Mahan might be the one player who spends equal time with both of America’s biggest stars. He has been playing practice rounds with Mickelson for several years, and used to call him “32” to represent the number of PGA Tour wins by Mickelson (the number is up to 38). He also plays with Woods, especially now that they use the same swing coach in Sean Foley.

“Just watching them play,” Mahan said. “Tiger is very stoic and doesn’t really talk much. And I know Phil, he talks to Bones (caddie Jim Mackay) on every shot, and they really talk a lot in depth. Phil, the more he talks and chitchats, it calms him down. He likes that.”

Matt Kuchar noticed the same differences in the team room.

“I think Phil is a lot more talkative in general,” Kuchar said. “There’s a guy who’s pretty much going to speak up. And Tiger might be more like me, kind of sit back and wait his turn.”

The one time Mickelson and Woods get together is across the net on the pingpong table.

But at dinner? Practice rounds together? Partners in the Ryder Cup?

“I’ve played with both of them, all the time,” Mahan said. “I like them both. I get different things from both of them when I talk to them, about tips and stuff like that. They’re just two different people, and I wouldn’t expect them to be friends, just because of what they are aiming for and what they are trying to accomplish. Their personalities are just 180 degrees.”

KAYMER’S DEBUT: Martin Kaymer is at his second Ryder Cup, his first as a player.

Kaymer, who won the PGA Championship in a playoff at Whistling Straits, was invited to the Ryder Cup two years ago at Valhalla by European captain Nick Faldo, who thought it might help the 25-year-old German down the road.

“The experience of going to Valhalla has helped me already this week,” Kaymer said. “When I came here, I knew what to expect. I knew there would be a lot of media. A lot of things are planned. Everything is very organized. There is not a lot of time for yourself that you can sit down and relax and think about a few things.

“So those things, just the organization of things, have helped me already.”

As for the golf? Stay tuned.

“It’s my first Ryder Cup, so I don’t know how it feels on Friday morning,” Kaymer said. “But the things that happened on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, they helped me already.”

LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Though he’s just 21 and a Ryder Cup rookie, Rickie Fowler already has some experiences to draw on when the matches begin in earnest.

For one thing, he’s already won a cup on European soil – as a member of the winning U.S. team at the Walker Cup three years ago at Royal County Down, when Fowler went 3-1 as the youngest player on the squad. How much that will carry over is anyone’s guess.

“I played well in Ireland, and it was a similar stage,” he said Wednesday. “But this is multiplied by 10, 20 or 30.”

Fowler also got a close look at European captain Colin Montgomerie when the two were drawn together at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Fowler, added to the U.S. roster as a captain’s pick, probably wishes now that he’d been making notes.

“Earlier this year,” he said, “I wasn’t really thinking too much about the Ryder Cup.”

Fowler is the first PGA Tour rookie to compete in the Ryder Cup, and he’s the youngest player since Tiger Woods in 1997 to play for the American team. He’s not the youngest at Celtic Manor – that would be Rory McIlroy, who’s about five months younger.

Even so, his age is a topic.

Someone mentioned to Bubba Watson that the Americans have not won on European soil in 17 years.

“Is Rickie that old?” he replied.

TWO “I’s” IN COLIN MONTGOMERIE, NONE IN TEAM: Colin Montgomerie began his Ryder Cup career at Kiawah Island in 1991, when he earned a half in a memorable – albeit ugly – match against Mark Calcavecchia.

He was paired with Padraig Harrington when they took down the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson experiment at Oakland Hills. He has never lost a singles match in his eight Ryder Cups.

Asked about the highlight of his career, Montgomerie made it clear what the Ryder Cup means to him.

“No personal highlight at all in the Ryder Cup, not one,” he said. “This event – personally – this event has meant nothing to me, and still doesn’t, personally. But as a team, and as a European Tour, it means the world to me.”

Montgomerie never pursued PGA Tour membership, and along with never winning a major, he is known for having never won an official tournament on American soil.

In the Ryder Cup, he has played on five winning teams.

“I had ample opportunity to go to America and join the U.S. tour as a player when I was No. 1 in Europe,” he said. “Never took it. Always supported the European Tour and the European cause, and that’s why I’m here, for Europe – for the European Tour, for the European cause and the European team.

“Personally? Nothing.”

WIDE-OPEN DANCE CARD: Zach Johnson is nothing if not adaptable.

At his first Ryder Cup appearance in 2006, he played his matches with three different partners: Chad Campbell, Scott Verplank and Stewart Cink. Johnson halved his match with Campbell, won his match with Verplank but lost in his pairing with Cink. The Europeans went on to a dominating 18 1/2 -9 1/2 victory.

With Cink the only one of those three on this year’s team, Johnson knows he’ll likely be matched with another partner at Celtic Manor. He doesn’t mind a bit.

“My game is fairly obvious,” Johnson said. “It’s not that flashy. It’s pretty boring. I prefer boring golf. My point is, I think you could be put with just about anybody and I could perform.”

Four years ago, a steady downpour and a barrage of key putts sunk the Americans at the K Club in Ireland. Johnson can’t affect how the Europeans handle the greens at Celtic Manor, but he’ll be ready if the forecast calling for periods of rain the rest of the week turn out to be accurate.

“I hope that’s not the case. But I’m a mudder,” he said. “I don’t mind grinding it out.”

DIVOTS: The Americans wore navy blue rain suits that looked like they belonged to a basketball team – white stripes, with their names stitched on the back. Tiger Woods was the only player whose name was not on the suit. … Bubba Watson says the last time he heard the national anthem played at a golf tournament was a national team for junior college players. “I was in South Africa and I got to carry the flag out to our ceremonies,” he said. “And we won by 32 shots, so we got to listen to the national anthem.” And yes, it made him cry. … This will be the first Ryder Cup that doesn’t have a player from the home country. Rhys Davies is driving Colin Montgomerie in his cart. The last Welshman to play in the Ryder Cup was Phillip Price, who was No. 119 in the world when he beat Phil Mickelson at The Belfry.

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After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 3:40 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the Nelson's future ...

If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.

Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.

The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray

On Jordan Spieth's putting ...

Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.

He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.

Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.

Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta

On golf and gambling ...

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.

Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.

Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard

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Wise continues whirlwind ascent with first win

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 3:13 am

DALLAS – Still shy of his 22nd birthday, Aaron Wise continues to prove himself to be a quick learner.

Wise went from unheralded prospect to NCAA individual champ seemingly in the blink of an eye while at the University of Oregon. After eschewing his final two years of eligibility in Eugene, he won in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour in his third start as a professional.

He continued a quick learning curve with a win last year on the Tour to propel him to the big leagues, and he didn’t flinch while going toe-to-toe with Jason Day two weeks ago, even though the result didn’t go his way.

Faced with another opportunity to take down a top-ranked Aussie, Wise made sure he got the job done Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson – even though it took until dark.

With mid-day rains turning a firm and fast layout into a birdie barrage, Wise seamlessly switched gears and put his first PGA Tour title on ice in impressive fashion with a bogey-free 65. Deadlocked with Marc Leishman to start the day, Wise made six birdies in his first 10 holes and coasted to a three-shot win as the leaders barely beat the setting sun to avoid an anticlimactic Monday finish at Trinity Forest Golf Club.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

As it turned out, the hardest part of the day was enduring the four-hour weather delay alongside his mother, Karla, as his afternoon tee time turned into a twilight affair.

“She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”

Wise displayed some jitters right out of the gates, with a nervy three-putt par on the opening hole. But with several players going on birdie runs to turn what seemed like a two-man race into a much more wide-open affair, Wise went on a tear of his own with four birdies in a row on Nos. 7-10.

That gave him a window over Leishman and the rest of the chase pack, and he never looked back.

“I talked to myself and kind of made myself trust my putting,” Wise said. “These greens out here are really tricky, and for me to roll those putts in on 8 and 9 really kind of separated things.”

Leishman had held at least a share of the lead after each round, and the 34-year-old veteran was looking for his third win in the last 14 months. But a bogey on No. 10 coincided with a Wise birdie to boost the rookie’s advantage from two shots to four, and Leishman never got closer than three shots the rest of the way.

“He holed putts he needed to hole, and I didn’t,” Leishman said. “Hit a couple loose shots where I could have probably put a bit of pressure on him, and didn’t. And that’s probably the difference in the end.”

Instead of sitting next to a trophy in Dallas, Wise could have been closing out his senior season next week with an NCAA appearance at Karsten Creek. But the roots of his quick climb trace back to the Master of the Amateurs in Australia in December 2015, a tournament he won and one that gave him confidence that he could hold his own against the best in the world. He returned to Eugene and promptly told his coach, Casey Martin, that he planned to turn pro in the spring.

The same dogged confidence that drove that decision has been the guiding force behind a whirlwind ascent through every rung of the professional ladder.

“I just have a lot of belief in myself. I didn’t come from a lot. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf,” Wise said. “Kind of all along it’s been very, very few moments to shine and I have had to take advantage of them.”

Despite that belief, even Wise admits that he’s “shocked” to turn only his second real chance to contend at this level into a maiden victory. But fueled by the memories of a close call two weeks ago, he put the lessons learned at Quail Hollow to quick use while taking the next step in an increasingly promising career arc.

“It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said. “To walk up 18, knowing I kind of had it locked up, was pretty cool.”

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Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:51 am

DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.

“Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.

“It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”

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Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:33 am

DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.

Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.

Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

“I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”

Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.

“I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.