Mickelson hopeful of his rival Woods return

By Doug FergusonJanuary 28, 2010, 1:52 am
Farmers Insurance OpenSAN DIEGO – The biggest crowd at Torrey Pines on Wednesday formed a semicircle around the 10th tee to watch Phil Mickelson, who suddenly is more than a hometown hero. He is looked upon now to deliver star power in the absence of Tiger Woods.

Mickelson relishes just about any challenge that involves Woods.

Just not this one.

“Nobody will be able to … fill the shoes,” Mickelson said.

Speaking for the first time since Woods’ spectacular and sordid downfall led to an indefinite break, Mickelson didn’t bother waiting for the first question at his press conference before the Farmers Insurance Open. He offered a pre-emptive strike filled with compassion and perspective, even if it was short on detail.

“The game of golf needs him to come back,” Mickelson said. “It’s important for him to come back and be a part of the sport. But right now, he’s got a lot more important things going on in his life. Amy and I are good friends with both Tiger and Elin, and we care deeply about how this turns out.

“But I’m going to choose not to talk about it publicly anymore, and I appreciate your understanding on that.”

More questions followed, although Mickelson refused to be drawn into a discussion on whether he can fill the void left by Woods or whether he was surprised by the amount of media coverage, from gossip magazines to standup routines on late shows.

He did confirm that he has tried to reach out to his longtime rival and had “limited communication.”

“With the family – not necessarily saying with who in the family,” Mickelson said.

No one has more to gain than Mickelson while Woods is away.

He is the No. 2 player – in the ranking, PGA Tour victories, television appeal – and even before details emerged of Woods’ infidelity, Mickelson was poised to challenge him like never before.

In their final PGA Tour event, Mickelson charged from behind in the final round of the Tour Championship for a three-shot victory over Woods. The last time they competed was in the final round of the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. They played in the final group, and Mickelson turned a two-shot lead over Woods into a six-shot margin at the turn and went on to victory.

The turnaround for Mickelson came in September when he hooked up with former U.S. PGA champion Dave Stockton, who persuaded Mickelson to go back to his old style of putting. Mickelson started making everything, a frightening complement with work he has done on his long game. For the first time, Mickelson believes his driving is a weapon instead of a weakness.

With some 100 fans gathered around, he sent his tee shot well right of the fairway, the bunker and the rough until it settled in a small cluster of trees near the adjacent 18th fairway.

Mickelson simply laughed.

“So much for my driving,” he said.

He is more at ease with himself, on the golf course and at home. Mickelson spent the last two days in Houston getting more cancer treatment for his wife. He says the long-term prognosis is good, although he knows better to take anything for granted with cancer.

Even so, he said the “scary time” was over.

Mickelson is a three-time winner at Torrey Pines, although he hasn’t seriously contended since the South course was revamped and the greens were rebuilt to get ready for the 2008 U.S. Open. He believes he finally knows how to handle it.

Mickelson is among three players from the top 20 – the others are Robert Allenby and Ernie Els.

Storms swamped the courses last week, and while they are in good shape heading into the opening round, officials could only get lawn mowers in the rough on Tuesday. It was still thick, prompting Allenby to say as he studied his ball in the left rough on Wednesday, “We played a U.S. Open here already. Are we playing another one?”

The U.S. Open is the biggest trophy missing from Mickelson’s collection, and he’s hopeful this is the year he wins that and so many other prizes that have eluded him – a money title, PGA Tour player of the year, even No. 1 in the world.

“My whole career, I’ve been trying to get to No. 1,” Mickelson said. “I just haven’t had much success. But this year, whether or not Tiger is in the field, I still believe that this is an opportunity for me to compete in majors, to challenge him. I’ve had some great head-to-head success in the last year or two, and I expect this year – with or without him – to be one of the best years of my career.”

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Tiger putts way into contention at The Open

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 5:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.

Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.

“I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.

Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.

“I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”

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TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 4:58 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:

• THAT WAS AWESOME!

At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.

• Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.

• This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.

• One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.

• On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.

• One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.

• In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”

Yes, yes it is.

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Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open

By Grill Room TeamJuly 21, 2018, 4:55 pm

It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.

Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:

Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.

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Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 4:10 pm

Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.

Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.

No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.


No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.


No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.


No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.


No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.


And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.


Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.


Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.