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After Further Review: Don't count Phil out

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 9, 2017, 12:58 am

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

On Phil Mickelson's future in team matches:

When Phil Mickelson completed his week at the Presidents Cup it was hard not to consider that the 2017 matches may have been Lefty’s last team event as a player.

At 47, Mickelson needed a captain’s pick to play his 12th Presidents Cup and his record last season didn’t exactly suggest he was the same explosive player that he once was. Although he played the role of elder statesman perfectly at Liberty National, a start at next year’s Ryder Cup seemed like a long shot.

A week later, however, and it seems Mickelson isn’t ready for a captain’s cart just yet following his tie for third at the Safeway Open, his best finish on the PGA Tour since July 2016. - Rex Hoggard

On Mickelson's Ryder Cup points shutout:

Phil Mickelson’s T-3 finish at the Safeway Open was his best result in more than a year. It also earned him exactly zero Ryder Cup points because of a rule championed by…Phil Mickelson.

Lefty was the key proponent back in 2015 that the non-WGC events in the fall portion of the wraparound season shouldn’t count for Ryder Cup point purposes during a Ryder Cup year. It was adopted for the 2016 standings, impacting the chances of Kevin Na and Kevin Kisner making the team in hindsight, and it’s again in place for Jim Furyk’s squad next year.

Mickelson’s argument at the time was that offering points for fall events puts top players at an unfair disadvantage should they take a few weeks off and effectively start their season in January. After he needed a captain’s pick to play last week’s Presidents Cup, it’ll be interesting to see if his candidacy for Paris is at all impacted by a rule he fought so hard to create. - Will Gray

On Cristie Kerr's admirable career - on and off the course:

Cristie Kerr’s consistency and longevity are something to marvel over. So is her work in the fight against breast cancer. Kerr added to her reputation as a champion on both fronts with her victory Sunday at the LaCoste Ladies Open in France. That is 20 worldwide titles on major tours now for Kerr. Her Birdies for Breast Cancer foundation has helped fund a women’s health center in Jersey City that is devoted to breast cancer screening and treatment. That made her the perfect player to win in France, where the event was dedicated to fighting cancer, and to the memory of Cassandra Kirkland, an LET player who died of lung cancer this year. Kerr, who turns 40 next week, played for the mother of her friend, Kelli Kuehne, in France. Peggy “Pam” Kuehne died last week from cancer. Kerr knows the scourge of the disease. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor.

Kerr has already met qualifications for the World Golf Hall of Fame. She only needs to turn 50 or be inactive for five years to be eligible for induction. She’s proving a Hall of Fame champion in the fight against cancer, too. - Randall Mell

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Reed match taught McIlroy the need to conserve energy

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 10:18 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – One of the most memorable Ryder Cup singles matches in recent history was also one of the most exhausting.

Rory McIlroy was asked on Wednesday at Le Golf National about his singles bout with Patrick Reed two years ago at Hazeltine National, when the duo combined for eight birdies and an eagle through eight frenzied holes.

“I could play it for nine holes, and then it suddenly hit me,” said McIlroy, who was 5 under through eight holes but played his final 10 holes in 2 over par. “The level sort of declined after that and sort of reached its crescendo on the eighth green, and the last 10 holes wasn't quite as good.”

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In retrospect McIlroy said the match, which he lost, 1 down, was educational and he realized that maintaining that level of emotion over 18 holes isn’t realistic.

“It looked tiring to have to play golf like that for three days,” he said. “I learnt a lot from that and learnt that it's good to get excited and it's good to have that, but at the same time, if I need and have to be called upon to play a late match on Sunday or whatever it is, I want to have all my energy in reserve so that I can give everything for 18 holes because I did hit a wall that back nine on Sunday, and it cost me.”

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U.S. team gives Tiger 'cold shoulder' after Tour Championship win

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 10:08 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods was one of the final members of Team USA to make it to the team room late Sunday in Atlanta after his travel plans were delayed by his victory at the Tour Championship.

As the team waited, captain Jim Furyk concocted a plan for Woods.

“I ran into Jim Furyk and he said, ‘We were thinking about giving Tiger the cold shoulder like they do in baseball when the guy hits his first home run.’ He asked, ‘Do you think Tiger will be OK with that?’” Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava told Ryder Cup Radio on Sirius/XM. “I was like, ‘Of course he would. He’s got a sense of humor.’”

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

The U.S. team had plenty to cheer on Sunday with vice captain Steve Stricker also winning on the PGA Tour Champions. But it was Woods’ reception following his 80th PGA Tour victory and his first in five years that provided the best reaction.

“Tiger shows up about a half-hour later and is looking for some high-fives from everybody and they wouldn’t give him the time of day. They weren’t even looking at him, they all have their backs to him,” LaCava said. “He’s looking at me like what’s going on? He’s not a guy who is looking for fanfare, but these are his boys. He’s looking for 11 guys to run up and give him a good hug.”

LaCava said the team ignored Woods for about two minutes before breaking the silence with cheers and congratulations.

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How FedExCup has changed Ryder Cup prep

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 26, 2018, 8:56 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The improved play of the U.S. Ryder Cup team might be attributed to more than just youthful exuberance or camaraderie.

Phil Mickelson said the PGA Tour schedule is also a factor.

Mickelson argued this week that the advent of the FedExCup Playoffs, in 2007, has contributed to the Americans’ better results in the biennial matches. Save for the disastrous blowout in 2014 at Gleneagles, the Americans have either won or been locked in a tight match with the Europeans.

“I think the FedExCup is a big asset for us,” Mickelson said. “In the past, we’ve had six weeks off in between our last competition and the Ryder Cup. This year, although we might be tired, we might have had a long stretch, our games are much sharper because of our consistent play week-in and week-out heading into this event.”

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When presented with Mickelson’s theory, Justin Rose, the new FedExCup champion, countered by saying that the Europeans are the fresher team this week – and that could be more important during such a stressful event.

Seventeen of the 24 players here were in East Lake for the Tour Championship, meaning they not only played the minimum number of events for PGA Tour membership, but also played in at least three of the four playoff events.

Some of the European players, however, have remained loyal to their home tour and taken more time off. Henrik Stenson missed a few events to rest his ailing elbow. Sergio Garcia didn’t play for four weeks. And even Rose has adjusted his schedule during the latter part of the season, to make sure that he was as fresh as possible for the Ryder Cup. That meant skipping the pro-am in Boston and flying in on Thursday night, on the eve of the tournament, and reducing his number of practice rounds.

“It’s interesting,” Rose said. “They might feel like they are playing their way in and our guys are going to have a bit of gas in the tank. We’ll have to evaluate it on Sunday, but I’m hoping our strategy is going to be the one that pays off in the long run.”

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Rose hoping for FedEx/Ryder Cup party on Sunday

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 26, 2018, 8:41 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Justin Rose is hoping for the biggest party of all on Sunday night.

With the quick turnaround with the Ryder Cup, the newly crowned FedExCup champion hasn’t had much time to celebrate his season-long title that he earned Sunday at the Tour Championship.

“The FedExCup, for me, it finished on the plane,” Rose said Wednesday. “I enjoyed the plane ride over, but once I landed in Paris, I was one of 12 guys. I didn’t want it to carry over into this week. This week is about another job to do.”

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said his Ryder Cup teammates have resorted to the usual tactics – “Apparently all the drinks are on my tab this week,” he joked – but just as Team USA may have used a boost with Tiger Woods winning, the Europeans can take confidence in having the FedExCup champion on their side.

As for any premature celebrations, Rose said: “I can shelve that for another week or so. I will certainly enjoy it. It’s kind of a season-long title that you really want to enjoy. But I’d like to maybe start that party on Sunday night and here for the right reasons, because of this week.”