Mickelson misses 59, settles for 60 at Phoenix Open

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 31, 2013, 8:37 pm

Forget taxes. On Thursday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Phil Mickelson zeroed in on a more famous number: 59.

So close.

Fittingly at one of the most raucous venues of the year, Mickelson sent the golf world into a tizzy by flirting with golf’s magic number, but his birdie putt on his final hole cruelly lipped out. He settled for an 11-under 60 and the first-round lead.

“I’m ecstatic to shoot 60. I’m excited and so forth,” he said afterward. “But you don’t get chances to shoot 59 very often. To have that putt on-line, I’m kind of mortified that that didn’t go in.”

Phil Mickelson

Photos: Mickelson through the years

Mickelson was coming off pedestrian finishes at both the Humana Challenge and Farmers Insurance Open, but you wouldn’t know it watching his first round at the par-71 TPC Scottsdale.

Starting on the back nine, Mickelson birdied his first four holes, made par on Nos. 14 and 15 (a par 5), and went birdie-birdie-birdie to go out in 7-under 29. (Worth noting: He has won five of the seven times that he has shot 29 or better for nine holes.)

“I was thinking about (59) the whole time,” he said.

Mickelson started his back side – the front at TPC Scottsdale – with a birdie. He also birdied Nos. 3, 4 and 7.

Needing to birdie one of the last two holes to shoot 59 – or go birdie-birdie to become the first player to shoot 58 in a PGA Tour event – Mickelson hit his approach on No. 8 to 18 feet, then left his birdie putt a few rotations short.

“I thought there was no way to leave it short,” he said, “and I guess there was a way to leave it short.” 

At the 470-yard ninth – the second-toughest hole on the course – Mickelson split the fairway, then from 141 yards came up about 25 feet short of the flag.

His birdie putt looked like it would slide in on the right side, and Mickelson chased after the putt, his putter raised, believing he had made it. And the ball horseshoed out.

Mickelson grabbed the back of his head with his left hand. His caddie, Jim Mackay, collapsed on the green. His fellow playing competitors, Jason Dufner and Rickie Fowler, looked away in disbelief.

Thisclose to becoming the sixth player to shoot 59 on the PGA Tour.

“That one is tough to take,” Mickelson said. “You just don’t get those chances very often.”

This wasn’t even his first 59 watch at TPC Scottsdale. His low PGA Tour round, an 11-under 60, came here in the Arizona desert in 2005. He shot 59 in the 2004 Grand Slam of Golf.

Mickelson’s season had gotten off to a turbulent start. He tied for 37th at PGA West, but made headlines for complaining about the tax rate in California. After apologizing for those remarks at his hometown tournament, he never shot better than 70 at Torrey Pines and tied for 51st.

Earlier this week, he put the new Callaway Razr Fit Xtreme driver in his bag and noticed an immediate difference.

“Today I drove it phenomenal and feel really good about it,” he said. “That club made the biggest difference.”

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

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Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.