Mickelson takes another shot at No 1

By Doug FergusonMay 25, 2010, 9:59 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It has been 12 years since the creation of the Mark H. McCormack Award, given to the player who has been ranked No. 1 in the world for the most weeks during a calendar year.

Tiger Woods is still the only name engraved on the trophy.

Along with his 14 majors, 82 official victories and more than $100 million in earnings worldwide, Woods’ dominance of his generation is reflected in the world ranking. Dating to the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, he has been at the top 93 percent of the time.
Phil Mickelson PGA Championship
Phil Mickelson is staring down his second opportunity this year to be No. 1 in the world. (Getty Images)
Woods doesn’t stay there forever. He just doesn’t vacate the spot for very long.

David Duval took it away from him by winning The Players Championship in 1999 and stayed there for 14 weeks. Five years later, Vijay Singh replaced Woods at No. 1 by beating him at the TPC Boston for one of his nine victories that year. Singh finished the final four months at No. 1 – not long enough to win the McCormack Award – and didn’t give it back until Woods won the Masters the next April.

Phil Mickelson appears to be next in line.

The Masters champion needs only to win Colonial this week to become the 13th player to occupy No. 1 since McCormack, the late founder of IMG, devised the ranking system in 1986. Colonial is more meaningful than ever for Mickelson, for it was last year when the tournament staged a “Pink Out” to support his wife, Amy, who had just learned she had breast cancer.

Mickelson has never been No. 1 at anything in a career that has been second to one. Despite his 40 worldwide victories and four majors, he has never won the money list, Player of the Year, the FedEx Cup, the Vardon Trophy or reached No. 1 in the world.

If it doesn’t happen at Colonial, it figures to happen soon. A change at the top seems inevitable, more because of what’s going on with Woods – chaos in his personal life, back-to-back weeks out of the money for the first time – than with Lefty.

What makes this amazing is how quickly it changed.

Even after Mickelson won the Tour Championship last September, Woods’ average was nearly twice as high.

But the longer Woods stayed away from golf while dealing with the fallout from his infidelity, the more points he lost. Mickelson took a big step by winning at Augusta National, his only victory this year, and finishing second alone at Quail Hollow with a birdie on the last hole.

What makes this different from previous times that Woods gave up the No. 1 ranking is that if Mickelson fails to catch him soon, there’s no shortage of players right behind him.

Lee Westwood of England is No. 3, not quite in range but getting closer. He has finished no worse than third in the last three majors, and he appears to have figured out how to play his best golf in the biggest events. Steve Stricker is No. 4, although Colonial will be his first tournament since the Masters because of a chest injury. Jim Furyk, a two-time winner this year, is next at No. 5.

“Tiger’s performance and schedule and things like that are unpredictable at the moment, aren’t they?” Westwood said last week. “We have all seen that the last few weeks. Phil is obviously a world-class player and has already won a major this year, but you know, his performances are very much up-and-down as well.

“I suppose No. 2 and No. 1 are more achievable than they have been in the last few years.”

Ian Poulter, who is No. 6, was quoted in a British golf magazine a few years ago as saying that when he reaches his potential, it will be him and Woods at the top of the ranking. But is it a given that Woods will be there at the end of the year?

“I can see anybody in the top 10 in the world – if they play great for a spell of three, four months, have a couple of wins and a couple of big finishes – certainly get to the points that Tiger is at now, for sure,” Poulter said.

One thing hasn’t changed. Losing the No. 1 ranking depends more on Woods than the players chasing him.

The other two times Woods lost his No. 1 ranking, he was revamping his game. He won only two tournaments in 1998, and when the changes with Butch Harmon finally took hold, Duval had passed him in the spring of ’99. Woods reclaimed No. 1 for good by winning the PGA Championship that year at Medinah, and he kept it for the next 264 weeks.

Woods was going through a swing change with Hank Haney for most of 2004 when he won only two tournaments. Those changes kicked in at the end of that year, and Woods left everyone behind in 2005 with seven victories (including two majors) and five runner-up finishes. He has been No. 1 for 259 consecutive weeks going into the Colonial.

Woods made it sound as though he was going through more swing changes at The Players Championship, and that figures to be the case now that he and Haney no longer are working together. It remains a mystery who – if anyone – will be Woods’ next swing coach.

In the meantime, No. 1 is up for grabs.

Mickelson is in the best position to seize this opportunity. And if it takes Woods more than a year to sort out his personal life and his game, there might finally be another name to be engraved on the McCormack Award.
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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of {Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.