Agent: No timetable for Woods' equipment change

By Will GrayAugust 3, 2016, 11:53 pm

When news broke Wednesday that Nike Golf will transition out of the equipment business, it quickly brought the future prospects of a certain 14-time major champion into question.

Tiger Woods helped catapault Nike into the golf landscape when he signed a record endorsement deal with the company in 1996. Nike began producing golf balls in 1998 and clubs in 2001, and Woods' bag was fully outfitted with Nike products shortly thereafter.

According to Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, Woods' apparel and footwear will continue to be provided by Nike in the wake of this latest announcement. His equipment, however, is now up in the air.

"Clearly he and I need to be thinking about a change on the hard goods side," Steinberg told GolfChannel.com via phone. "He and I have discussed at length the plan for that, and feel comfortable with what we're going to do going forward. But clearly, there's likely to be a change."


Nike exiting golf equipment business | Timeline: Nike Golf


Woods used Titleist clubs before transitioning fully to Nike equipment. While Steinberg indicated he and Woods have "been digesting this for a couple of days," their list of potential replacements has yet to be narrowed down.

"Look, the golf industry is a 20-company industry. So there's a large list of companies that you can talk to that reputably can produce the proper equipment," Steinberg said. "We'll be proactive here, and make sure it fits Tiger's needs and desires."

Woods, 40, hasn't played competitively in nearly a year while recovering from multiple back surgeries and it isn't known when he'll return to competition. While Steinberg reiterated that the announcement does not change Woods' status as "one of the global icons for Nike and Nike Golf," he added that no timetable is in place to make a choice regarding a potential new equipment provider.

"Just like his comeback to golf, I think timelines inhibit you," he said. "So we'll do this methodically, and in a proper way."

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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.


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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

“Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”


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Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

“It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”

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Tiger helped calm down Reed before epic RC match

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 3:30 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods apparently played a pivotal role in getting Patrick Reed ready for that epic Ryder Cup singles match against Rory McIlroy – all by cracking a joke on the range.

Then a U.S. vice captain, Woods noticed that Reed was too amped up during the warm-up for the opening singles match.

“He’s watching me warm up, and he’s like, He needs to calm down. He needs to chill out,” Reed recalled. “I was hitting the ball sideways – I was just like, Let’s go.


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“But he pulled me aside. Cracked a little joke to calm me down a little bit” – what the joke was, Reed wouldn’t say, but you can probably guess that it was unprintable – “and I was able to bring that adrenaline level down to manageable, rather than sitting there on high rev.”

It didn’t take long for Reed to explode again.

In one of the most entertaining matches in Ryder Cup history, Reed and McIlroy traded blows for the first eight holes at Hazeltine, combining for eight birdies and an eagle before settling down. Reed eventually won the match, 1 up, after rolling in a birdie putt on the final green.

“It’s something that was hard to make sure you stayed up in that mind frame and also that level that you could play,” Reed said. “You get so amped up, it’s hard. It’s hard to figure out how far you’re going to hit the ball, but at the same time, if you’re so even-keeled in the other direction, it’s hard to get yourself up to get going. You only have 18 holes.

“The good thing is I’ve been able to manage that really well, and luckily I was able to have Tiger there to help me out there on Sunday.”

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Improved putting a focus for slumping Mickelson

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 3:12 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – For the U.S. side, one of the biggest question marks heading into this week is the state of Phil Mickelson’s game.

Mickelson was all out of sorts last week at the Tour Championship, where he finished last in the 30-man field, shooting 13 over par and finishing 24 strokes behind Tiger Woods.

Part of that poor play likely can be attributed to Mickelson looking ahead to this week, where the Americans will try to snap a 25-year winless drought on foreign soil. But Mickelson conceded Tuesday that his game still needs plenty of work before the Ryder Cup begins on Friday.

“I’m going to spend more time with the putter,” Mickelson said. “It’s Tuesday. We have two more practice rounds.”


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Mickelson’s putting has been one of the strongest parts of his game this season – he was ranked 10th in strokes gained: putting – but he had two of his worst weeks of the year on the greens at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship. In each of those starts, he ranked nearly the bottom of the field in putting and lost an average of 1.3 strokes to the field each round. (His worst putting tournament of the year was the PGA Championship, where he lost an average of -1.6 strokes a round.)

But there were larger concerns. Of the 30 players in the field at East Lake, he was better than only two in the strokes gained: tee to green category.  

Overall, Mickelson doesn't have a top-10 on Tour since early May. 

“I don’t want to put too much time into it,” he said. “I’m not trying to get fine-tuned. I’m just trying to get posture, alignment, basic fundamentals matched up for the swing, so I have a little bit of work to do. I didn’t strike it the way I wanted to, but the last two weeks were the worst putting weeks of the year, and hopefully I can turn that around.”