Punch Shot: How many career majors will Phil win?

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 23, 2013, 12:30 pm

In light of Phil Mickelson's recent triumph at the 142nd Open Championship giving him his fifth major, our writers debate how many he will finish with in his career.


Phil Mickelson will end his career with six major championships.

Hope I’m wrong. Hope he wins more.

Lefty will win another Masters before his career is complete and it’ll give him as many green jackets as Tiger Woods. In an era dominated by these two men it’d only be fitting for Mickelson to end his career even with Woods in at least one category.

A U.S. Open victory is a toss up. I wrote this last month following Mickelson’s loss at Merion: If the golf gods had a heart, they’d allow Phil Mickelson to win the U.S. Open next year at Pinehurst, the place where he first finished second (1999) in the epic finish against Payne Stewart. Then again, if the golf gods had a heart, Mickelson would already have collected at least one Open crown.

Still feel the same way. It’d be great for Mickelson to win the career Grand Slam, something nine years ago seemed impossible because he had won precisely zero majors. But Lefty has come a long way in a short time, and is playing some of the best golf in his career. Almost nothing he does from now until the end of his PGA Tour career would surprise me.

He could win the PGA Championship in three weeks.


Phil Mickelson will win six majors because he’s motivated, but it doesn’t seem likely he will add to his Grand Slam collection after that. It won’t be a lack of talent that strands him at a half dozen, it will be missing inspiration.

Lefty will hit a wall when he finally wins the U.S. Open – quite likely next June when the national championship returns to Pinehurst, site of his first heartbreak. The victory, when and wherever it happens, will move Mickelson into rare air, making him the sixth player to claim the career Grand Slam.

It’s hard to imagine Mickelson, whose focus has been known to waiver, summiting the ultimate major mountain only to start a trip up the next peak.

“If I’m able to win the U.S. Open and complete the career Grand Slam, I think that that’s a sign of the complete, great player,” he said on Sunday following his victory at the Open Championship, the one major that had a “round peg in a square hole” feel to it for Lefty.

Over time Mickelson learned to play links golf, just as it stands to reason that after six runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open he’d be prepared to secure the last piece to his major puzzle. Beyond that, however, all bets are off.



Two more? Why not? If he bags Nos. 6 and 7, it would mean only six golfers in history would have more major hardware than Lefty. But hey, in the wake of his game-changing victory at Muirfield, the possibilities are limitless.

In coming years, his flexibility will decrease, and so will his distance. But at 43 – an age when most pros’ strokes begin to betray them – Phil is putting better than he ever has, eliminating what had appeared to be an early onset of the yips. That alone means he’ll be a factor in every major he enters, provided he’s fit and healthy.

But his best chances to win another major (and complete the career grand slam) are at next year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where all of his national-championship heartbreak began in ’99. Light rough and sloping greens? You can bet Lefty will be a factor there. Same at the Masters, his favorite tournament of the year, where he shows up each April believing he can win. That won’t change deep into his late 40s, and his record there – only one finish outside the top 30 since 1997 – suggests that even a slightly diminished long game could still produce a fourth green jacket. And, yes, even more majors.


I’ll say Phil Mickelson finishes his career with six major titles, but all I really know is that the final number will be at least five and less than 18. At least, I’m pretty sure about that last part.

Trying to predict anything about Mickelson’s career has always been an exercise in futility. As if we needed further evidence, let’s see a show of hands for which of you had ever predicted he’d win an Open Championship. OK, now put your hands down and extinguish the flames on your pants.

At 43, he isn’t showing any signs of breaking down anytime soon, so it’s hard to believe that he won’t be seriously in the mix for at least another half-decade, giving him 21 more major starts, including the upcoming PGA Championship.

I’m already on record in a Punch Shot from last month saying that I didn’t think he would ever win a U.S. Open, a tournament at which he’s been snakebitten to the tune of a half-dozen runner-up results. I’d gladly be wrong about that one if it means watching history unfold – and it would: Mickelson would become the sixth player to achieve the career Grand Slam if he finally breaks through at the year’s second major.

I’ll sort of compromise – with myself, if not anyone else – and say that Mickelson wins one more major to tie Lee Trevino and Nick Faldo. But the truth is none of us ever know what to expect from him. That won’t change anytime soon.


Phil Mickelson is predictable only in his unpredictability.

What will Phil do next? How about win another Masters and complete the career Grand Slam with a U.S. Open breakthrough? With seven major championship titles, he would equal the totals Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen ended their careers with.

It’s total guesswork, but there would be something fitting about Mickelson equaling Palmer’s major championship work. The go-for-broke mentality that marked so much of Mickelson’s career is an echo from Palmer’s day. So is the way Mickelson goes out of his way to connect with his fans.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.