Different personalities, different results for Tiger, Phil

By Jason SobelJuly 24, 2013, 12:00 pm

This breaking story just in to the GolfChannel.com news desk: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson … aren’t very similar.

Somebody needs to send that scoop over to the Pulitzer committee, pronto.

After years of investigative reporting, we’ve uncovered a few noteworthy facts.

Tiger walks the course like he’s stalking prey. Phil walks the course like he’s in a Homecoming parade.

Tiger celebrates good shots with a fiery, solitary fist pump. Phil celebrates good shots by fist-bumping everybody within arm’s reach.

Tiger reacts to bad shots with a scowl and something that sounds like, “&%#@%$!!!” Phil reacts to bad shots with a smile and something that sounds like, “Golly gee!!!”

The purpose of this exercise isn’t to debate which player goes about his business in a “better” manner. There’s more than one way to skin a cat – or capture a skin.

No, the reason for pointing out their personality differences is to prove how those personality differences can actually affect their on-course results.

Photos: Tiger Woods through the years

Photos: Phil Mickelson through the years

Of Woods’ 14 career major championship victories, every single one of ‘em has come when he held or shared the lead entering the final round. (Again, more exhaustive investigative research to find that one.)

Tiger has thrived – or did thrive, at least, back when he was winning majors – on picking a target number prior to teeing it up in the final round, then hitting that target, letting his fellow contenders flail by the wayside like fish trying to climb a tree. Or simply providing a timely stiff arm to any close pursuant not named Y.E. Yang.

He’s been called the Mariano Rivera of professional golfers, but even that is a minimal insult; Woods’ 14-of-15 mark is four percentage points higher than the Yankees closer’s career save-conversion rate.

Of course, what that number also means is that adversely Woods has compiled an 0-for-54 major championship record when failing to lead after 54 holes. That’s more than just a trend. It’s a way of life.

Last year at Royal Lytham, he entered the final round five shots back and finished third; the winner came from six back. This past week at Muirfield, he entered the final round two shots back and finished sixth; the winner came from five back.

All of which leads to the inevitable question: If other players can produce victorious Sunday afternoon rallies, why can’t the guy with more talent than anyone else?

Perhaps it’s just a matter of time before Woods embraces that come-from-behind role, but for now his antipathy toward having to look over his shoulder – both literally and figuratively – reeks of a player who is one-dimensional when it comes to such moments.

On Sunday, when he started the Open Championship final round two strokes off the lead, then saw that differential gradually grow to three and four and five, Woods continually failed to play aggressively. “I had a hard time adjusting to the [green] speeds,” he explained after a round of 74. “I don’t think I got too many putts to the hole today.”

Even the most casual of recreational golfers has heard the term, “Never up, never in.” (Or saddled themselves with the self-effacing, “Hit the ball, Alice.”) Hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” a notion which can easily be applied to aggressive putting, especially when trailing late in a major championship.

While Tiger remains the greatest closer of all-time, it’s become abundantly clear that he’s attempting to employ the same strategy when trailing: Play steady golf and let the other contenders make the mistakes.

It’s also become abundantly clear that such a blueprint is inherently flawed.

That brings us back to Mickelson, whose yin zealously repels Woods’ yang. (No, not Y.E. again.)

The mercurial lefthander plays golf like a death row inmate eats lunch. He’s been called a riverboat gambler on the course, but that analogy is a slap in the face to all riverboat gamblers who don’t push the chips all-in every hand.

Despite winning three of his five major titles after holding the 54-hole lead, Mickelson never has been – nor ever will be – a closer of Woods’ caliber. Exhibit A for this belief occurred just last month, when he held the overnight advantage at the U.S. Open, then three times on Sunday claimed it back at Merion, only to lose it each time.

It doesn’t take the staunchest Mickelphile to recall in cringing detail the man’s daunting decision to hit driver with a one-stroke lead on the final hole at Winged Foot back in 2006, even after a day filled with wayward drives. And what happened? The ball found a hospitality tent and its owner posted double bogey to lose by a stroke.

Phil doesn’t have the stiff-arm capability of Tiger. He wasn’t born with the governor that keeps him from trying things, even when the best play is the safe play.

That not only explains his recent U.S. Open “heartbreaker,” as he called it, but his Open Championship victory, too.

Faced with a five-shot deficit entering the final round, the situation fit Mickelson’s personality perfectly. He could play aggressively knowing there was nothing to lose. If aggressive golf resulted in a 78, so be it, he’d just fall further down the leaderboard; if it resulted in 66, though, he’d likely add a claret jug to his collection. And that’s exactly what happened.

“I’ve always tried to go out and get it,” he said afterward. “I don’t want anybody to hand it to me; I want to go out and get it. And today I did.”

Those are words you sometimes wish Woods would utter when he’s playing from off the lead, just as Woods’ well-known declarations about retaining first place would seep through like osmosis for Mickelson.

But they don’t. Because it’s not part of their respective personalities.

Phil and Tiger are the two most heralded golfers of this generation, but they’re unique individuals, as different in personality as two men can be while successfully competing at the same craft. That’s not just a footnote or discussion topic for the tabloids, either. It wholly explains why each has been so proficient at finding success in completely opposite scenarios.

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Ko part of 5-way tie for Mediheal lead

By Associated PressApril 27, 2018, 3:20 am

DALY CITY, Calif. - Lydia Ko was back on top at Lake Merced.

Ko shot a 4-under 68 on a chilly Thursday morning at the LPGA Mediheal Championship for a share of the first-round lead. Jessica Korda, Caroline Hedwall, In-Kyung Kim and Su Oh joined Ko atop the leaderboard in the LPGA's return to Lake Merced after a year away.

''This is a golf course where you need to drive the ball well and putt well,'' said Ko, the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic winner at the course in 2014 and 2015.

Ko eagled the par-5 fifth and had four birdies and a bogey. The New Zealander has 14 LPGA wins, the last in July 2016.

''It's nice to come back to a place where you feel super-welcomed,'' Ko said. ''It just brings back a lot of great memories. ... My family and friends are here this week, so I'm hoping that I'm going to continue the solid play.''

She turned 21 on Tuesday.

''I don't think I feel a huge difference, but I know turning 21 is a huge thing in the U.S.,'' Ko said, ''So, I'm legal and I can do some fun things now.''

Korda, playing alongside Kim a group ahead of Ko, also eagled the fifth and had four birdies and a bogey. Korda won in Thailand in February in her return from reconstructive jaw surgery.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship

''The score says one thing and my hands say another,'' Korda said. ''It was really cold out there today, so it was good that I stuck to kind of my process. ... Actually, this is still some of the nicer conditions that we've played in compared to the past. I'll take the cold as long as there's no rain.''

Hedwall and Kim each had five birdies and a bogey.

''I just love the city. It's really nice,'' said Hedwall, from Sweden. ''It's sort of a European-style city with all the shopping going on downtown and stuff. I love it here. I even like this weather, suits me really well, too.''

Oh had a bogey-free round. The Australian was the only one of the five players tied for the lead to play in the afternoon.

''It was cold and pretty windy out there and, because it's got a lot of elevation, it kind of swirls in the middle like in the low areas, so it was tough,'' Oh said. ''I hit the ball really solid today. Then the ones I missed, I made really good up-and-downs.''

Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim, Charley Hull and Celine Herbin shot 69.

''This course is very challenging, especially when the wind picks up,'' the third-ranked Thompson said. ''It's chilly, so it's a little longer of a course. Some of the par 5s are reachable, so you try to take advantage of that, but pars were good and just take the birdie chances as you can get them.''

Moriya Jutanugarn, the winner Sunday in Los Angeles for her first LPGA title, had a 71 playing with former Stanford student Michelle Wie and ANA Inspiration winner Pernilla Lindberg. Wie had a 74, and Lindberg shot 79. Ariya Jutanugarn matched her sister with a 71, playing in the group with Ko.

Top-ranked Inbee Park matched playing partner Brooke Henderson with a 72. The third member of the afternoon group, second-ranked Shanshan Feng, shot 73.

Juli Inkster shot 72. The 57-year-old Hall of Famer grew up in Santz Cruz, starred at San Jose State and lives in Los Altos. She won the last of her 31 LPGA titles in 2006.

Stacy Lewis had a 74 after announcing that she is pregnant with a due date of Nov. 3. She plans to play through the Marathon Classic in July and return for a full season next year.

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Glover, Reavie share Zurich lead with Chinese pair

By Associated PressApril 27, 2018, 3:04 am

AVONDALE, La. - Chez Reavie had quite a few good moments at TPC Louisiana on Thursday. So did teammate Lucas Glover.

In best-ball format, the most important thing was those moments came on different holes.

Reavie and Glover teamed to shoot a 12-under 60 for a share of the Zurich Classic lead with China's Zhang Xinjun and Dou Zecheng.

''Chez started well and I picked it up in the middle of the back nine,'' Glover said. ''He closed it off and then we both played really well on the front. Just kind of ham and egged it, I guess, as they would say.''

Reavie and Glover each had six birdies in the best-ball format, pushing through soggy weather early in the round before conditions cleared at TPC Louisiana. Six teams are two shots back in a tie for third after shooting 62.

''We were just rolling,'' Reavie said. ''I think we're comfortable. We like to laugh and have a good time when we're playing golf, and it definitely helps.''

Zhang and Dou birdied four of their final five holes. Dou made a 31-foot putt on No. 9 to cap the impressive rally and jump into the lead with Reavie and Glover.

Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos

Tony Finau-Daniel Summerhays, Chris Paisley-Tommy Fleetwood, J.J. Henry-Tom Hoge, Michael Kim-Andrew Putnam, Kevin Kisner-Scott Brown and Troy Merritt-Brendon de Jonge shot 62. Jason Day and Ryan Ruffels shot 64.

It's the first time since last year's Tour Championship that the reigning champs of all four majors have been in the same field. None of them were among the leaders after the first round.

Masters champion Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay had a 65, and British Open winner Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer were at 66.

''I didn't feel like there was really any rust,'' Reed said. ''I felt like I hit the ball all right today. I felt I hit some good quality putts. A couple of them went in, a couple of them didn't.''

This is the second year that two-player teams have competed at the Zurich Classic. The unusual tournament features best-ball play in the first and third rounds and alternate shot in the second and final rounds.

U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and Marc Turnesa shot a 67. PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and Bud Cauley shot a 70.

There are 80 teams in the tournament and the top 35, along with ties, will make the cut after Friday's second round.

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Lewis says she's expecting first child in November

By Randall MellApril 27, 2018, 2:18 am

Stacy Lewis is pregnant.

The 12-time LPGA winner confirmed after Thursday’s first round of the Mediheal Championship that she and her husband, University of Houston women’s golf coach Gerrod Chadwell, are expecting their first child on Nov. 3.

Lewis learned she was pregnant after returning home to Houston in late February following her withdrawal from the HSBC Women’s World Championship with a strained oblique muscle.

“We're obviously really excited,” Lewis said. “It wasn't nice I was hurt, but it was nice that I was home when I found out with [Gerrod]. We're just really excited to start a family.”

Lewis is the third big-name LPGA player preparing this year to become a mother for the first time. Suzann Pettersen announced last month that she’s pregnant, due in the fall. Gerina Piller is due any day.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship

Piller’s husband, PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, withdrew from the Zurich Classic on Thursday to be with her. Piller and Lewis have been U.S. Solheim Cup partners the last two times the event has been played.

“It's going to be fun raising kids together,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, they're best friends and they hang out. But just excited about the next few months and what it's going to bring.”

Lewis, a former Rolex world No. 1 and two-time major championship winner, plans to play through the middle of July, with the Marathon Classic her last event of the year. She will be looking to return for the start of the 2019 season. The LPGA’s maternity leave policy allows her to come back next year with her status intact.

“This year, the golf might not be great, but I've got better things coming in my life than a golf score.” Lewis said. “I plan on coming back and traveling on the road with the baby, and we'll figure it out as we go.”

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Coach scores in NFL Draft and on golf course

By Grill Room TeamApril 27, 2018, 1:47 am

To say that Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had a good day Thursday would be an understatement. Not only did his team snag one of the top defensive players in the NFL Draft - Georgia outside linebacker Roquan Smith, who the Bears took with the eighth pick of the first round - but earlier in the day Fangio, 59, made a hole-in-one, sinking a 9-iron shot from 125 yards at The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis.

Perhaps the ace isn't so surprising, though. In late May 2017, Fangio made another hole-in-one, according to a tweet from the Bears. The only information supplied on that one was the distance - 116 yards.