Notes: Mickelson doesn't need win to validate year

By Doug FergusonAugust 2, 2016, 8:16 pm

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Phil Mickelson is running out of time to validate what quietly has been a good year, minus only a victory.

He is not running out of patience.

Mickelson expects the disappointment from his runner-up finish in the British Open to linger because of how well he played, only to lose to the lowest score in major championship history. He found himself thinking too much about results in the PGA Championship, and along with not making putts, he was never a factor at Baltusrol.

''Certainly, the play this year at the British tells me that I'm able to play at a high level,'' said Mickelson, who turned 46 in June and is starting to check out colleges for his oldest daughter, 17-year-old Amanda. ''I'm starting to see my game come back. I'm starting to hit the shots again - what I'm visualizing, what I'm seeing - and doing it with ease now.''

He had only two winless years on the PGA Tour, 1999 and 2003, until going the last two years without a victory. The British Open wasn't his only close call. He missed a short putt at Pebble Beach to get into a playoff with Vaughn Taylor. He closed with a 67 to finish second in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. And then there was Royal Troon, where his 267 was topped only by Henrik Stenson's 264 in British Open history. Call that a case of bad timing.

Even so, three runner-up finishes is the most Mickelson has ever had in a year that he didn't win.

Next up is a three-week break before he plans to play all four FedEx Cup playoff events. He has announced that after the Ryder Cup, he will play the Safeway Open that starts the 2016-17 season in Napa, Calif.

''I wouldn't say the lack of a win this year would be a failure, but it wouldn't be as successful as I want or expect,'' Mickelson said. ''However, I'm optimistic heading into these next few events because I'm starting to hit shots.''

Lost in this winless year is that Mickelson is on the verge of qualifying for his 11th straight Ryder Cup team. He has never been a captain's pick. Perhaps even more amazing is that his passion is still high in his 25th year on the PGA Tour.

''It's been very frustrating for me when I arrive to the course and shots aren't coming off,'' he said. ''Trying to hit fades and it's drawing. Ball is not starting down my intended line. All those things have been very frustrating, but that has not been the case this year. The ball is starting down my line. The feel and touch is starting to come back. I'm starting to shoot some good scores. So I'm excited about where it's going.''


JACK'S (NEW) STAND: Jack Nicklaus didn't understand why golfers would not want to go to Rio for the sport's return to the Olympics after 112 years, and opinions grew stronger when Rory McIlroy said he took up golf to win championships, not grow the game.

Nicklaus changed his mind, however, during the opening of The Golden Bear Grill last week in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The 18-time major champion said he initially felt bad for golf when top players began withdrawing, thinking it was selfish on their part to not help grow the game.

''Then I started thinking more about it and thought maybe I shouldn't have said that because it's not about that,'' Nicklaus said. ''They aren't about growing golf right now. They are into playing golf. I'm into growing golf because I'm past my time. ... I've taken the opposite side of my own opinion.''


FAST START: Bryson DeChambeau tied for fourth in his professional debut at Hilton Head in April, and it appeared he would be a lock to go straight from college to the PGA Tour and earning a full card.

Instead, that honor might go to Jon Rahm of Arizona State.

He waited until after the U.S. Open to turn pro, and the Spaniard tied for third in his pro debut at the Quicken Loans National. Then, he tied for second at the RBC Canadian Open two weeks ago. He has yet to miss a PGA Tour cut in four starts as a pro. Rahm made the cut in four of the five PGA Tour events he played in college.

The high finishes over the last six weeks enabled him to take special temporary membership, making him eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions. That's not a big deal because only three tournaments are left.

Rahm is playing the Travelers Championship this week, and he is likely to finish the equivalent of top 125 on the money list to earn a full PGA Tour card. The last player to do that was Bud Cauley in 2011.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”