What We Learned: Does win help or hurt Phil's Open chances?

By Bailey MosierJuly 15, 2013, 12:08 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on what Phil Mickelson's triumph at the Scottish Open means as he heads into season's third major at Muirfield, and a possible new addition to the U.S. Solheim Cup team.

No one has ever won the Scottish Open and then gone on to win the next week. But as we were reminded on Sunday (and every day we watch Phil Mickelson), anything goes when Lefty tees it up.

If you watched any of his golf this week at Castle Stuart, you'd have never been able to tell his affection for links courses has only recently blossomed. He played beautiful, masterfully struck shots that more often than not found their way onto the greens and near the pins. His 23 birdies in regulation (24 if you count the first extra hole) should give Phil fans everywhere confidence that he might finally get that elusive first Claret Jug.

I know Lefty's always a wildcard as maddening as he is mesmerizing but his strong play at the Scottish Open should insure that he's one of the favorites heading into next week. – Bailey Mosier

Phil Mickelson is going to be a factor at Muirfield. Anyone who's been listening to Lefty over the past few months knows he's been optimistic – even after a few results that should have left him anything but. With a victory at Castle Stuart on Sunday, that optimism has finally been validated. It is one of the game's great recent mysteries that its most creative player hasn't found success until now on its grounds which require the most creativity, but Mickelson seems to have embraced links golf more in the last few years. At the Open, that optimism will be transformed into overflowing confidence. Don't be so naïve to think that a win will easily translate into another seven days later – after all, nobody has ever parlayed a Scottish title into one the next week – but it's also difficult to imagine he won't at least be in the mix. Maybe all those years of links futility will be fatefully erased. As we saw in his final-hole bogey and playoff-hole birdie Sunday, it's just Mickelson's third law of motion: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. – Jason Sobel

I’ve learned that I need to stop trying to predict what Phil Mickelson will do in any given week. Days after missing the cut in West Virginia, Lefty displayed a mastery of links golf en route to winning the Scottish Open – splitting fairways, controlling wedges and holing putts (except on the 72nd green).

This, of course, is not the first time that Mickelson has kept fans and media alike on the edge of their proverbial seats; while greatness is certainly synonymous with his game, consistency is not. Consider the fact that the last time he made a playoff at the Scottish Open (2007), Mickelson went on to miss the cut the following week at Carnoustie.

All this is to say that trying to predict Mickelson’s outcome this week at Muirfield is largely an exercise in futility. Just this year, he has played extremely well – winning now twice, with near-misses on three other occasions – while also struggling to missed cuts at Bay Hill, TPC Sawgrass and Greenbrier. I’m willing to accept any range of outcomes from Lefty next week – while another early exit wouldn’t surprise me, neither would seeing Mickelson hoist the Claret Jug at week’s end. – Will Gray

Gerina Piller is a serious threat to add another new face to the next U.S. Solheim Cup team.

With Piller’s tie for sixth Sunday at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, she will leap four spots in the U.S. Solheim Cup points standings into a tie for ninth with Lizette Salas. The top eight automatically make the team. Piller also is knocking on the door to qualifying for the team off the world rankings list.

The pressure’s ratcheting up now with just two events remaining before the American team is announced. There’s the Marathon Classic outside Toledo, Ohio, this week and then double points at the Ricoh Women’s British Open Aug. 1-4. The Solheim Cup is scheduled Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club outside Denver.

If the American team were settled today, Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson and Lizette Salas would make their first U.S. Solheim Cup team. Piller and Jennifer Johnson are in good position to make their first team with strong finishes. – Randall Mell

Getty Images

S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

Getty Images

'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.

Getty Images

Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

"Obviously the wind didn't blow. It was a different golf course than it was yesterday, you were able to take advantage of these par 5s," said Koepka, who opened in 71 on Day 1. "Felt like it was a lot more gettable. I putted so well, great ball-striking day, great putting day and very pleased with it."

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Current Official World Golf Ranking

That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"Just keep doing what I'm doing," Koepka said of his plan for the final two rounds. "I'm hitting it well and making putts. I felt like I probably could have shot about 7, 8 under on the front side there, missed a couple. You know, doing everything right and that's what you've got to do and hopefully this wind stays away."

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

Getty Images

'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.