Mickelson, caddie not surprised by performance

By Jason SobelFebruary 3, 2013, 12:52 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – You may be excused if you didn’t see this coming. You’re off the hook if you looked at Phil Mickelson’s 37th- and 51st-place finishes in his first two starts of this year, with only three of eight rounds in the 60s, and figured he was headed toward another week of mediocrity here at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

In fact, you’re probably part of the majority if you had lowered expectations for his season, at least in the short term. So far this year, he was hitting it short and crooked – and not just with his driver. Even the putter wasn’t going in the right direction. Based on all that evidence, who in their right mind would think he was on the verge of not only success, but potentially record-setting success?

Here’s who: Mickelson himself. And his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay.

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“We talked a little bit in the offseason,” Mackay said after his man posted a 7-under 64 to grab a six-stroke lead entering the final round. “He played really well in Asia, then he went home and told me he was continuing to play really, really well. Then he got pretty darn sick right before the Hope; I actually didn’t think he was going to play. So I think he had to get better and had to get it back a little bit. It took a little longer to knock the rust off, but I don’t think he’s surprised he’s playing as well as he is this week.”

“Before the season started, I had been playing really well, kind of like I am this week as far as iron play and so forth; I had been putting well,” Mickelson maintained. “Then I started at Humana and shot 72 at La Quinta and putted terribly and hit some bad shots, and it progressively got worse. I knew it wasn't far off. There was just a fraction, whether it was in the address position, setup, or whatnot.”

So he called instructor Butch Harmon and asked for help.

“We spent an hour and 15 minutes on the range, and it was just a minor tweak, and all of a sudden the club is back on plane and I'm hitting it the way I was,” Mickelson continued. “Certainly tying for 37th and 50-something doesn't really indicate this kind of play coming the next week, I understand that, but it did not feel far off. I felt like I was ready to click.”

He’s clicked with some video-game type of numbers, the kind found only on the easy mode in the most benign conditions. But the lefthander has made them all too real.

Saturday’s round of 64 followed opening scores of 60-65 and left him within one shot of the PGA Tour’s all-time 54-hole scoring record.

He also nearly made history of another kind.

If there’s a defining moment at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, it’s a 21-year-old Tiger Woods, in a baggy shirt that covered his elbows and barely looking old enough to shave, dropping a hole-in-one at the famous 16th hole that made the earth shake and beer come raining from the sky.

That moment nearly had to make room on the top shelf for another on Saturday afternoon, when Mickelson stepped to the very same tee box, pulled out his 9-iron and hit a shot that stopped a mere 20 inches from becoming the ninth tournament ace at that hole.

Most players hand out hats or sunglasses or T-shirts at 16. Mickelson handed out goosebumps.

“It was a pretty good shot,” he later said with a knowing smile.

Pretty good shots and knowing smiles have become the theme of the week for Mickelson, whose near-ace at 16 was part of a four-birdie closing stretch that extended his lead from four entering the day to six when it was over.

If that doesn’t sound impressive, just listen to his fellow contenders.

“Being in the lead is probably the hardest thing to do in professional golf, there's no doubt about it,” said Padraig Harrington, currently in a share of third place. “You've got to try and keep going forward. The pressure is on not to mess up. You know, I truly admire front runners who can keep true at that stage, because it is a difficult proposition to keep hitting, keep going at the flag.”

“For the most part, you will have a stretch where your stuff doesn't go in or you get a few bad breaks,” added Brandt Snedeker, in second place. “I guess Phil hadn't gotten that, or if he had, he played right through it.”

He’s played right through a lot of things in his career, so dusting himself off after a couple of disappointing results shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

And it doesn’t, at least not to Mickelson and the man who has been with him every step of the way.

“It’s so hard to compare it to playing a major, because it’s a completely different setup. The first two rounds at Baltusrol in ’05, he basically won it those rounds because he played so well,” Mackay said. “But this is way up there in terms of the golf he’s played. I mean, driving it like he’s driven it. Distance control has been outstanding. All of that stuff. He’s played really well.”

You probably didn’t see this coming. Mickelson and Mackay, though, knew this type of golf wasn’t far off, even when the scores said otherwise.

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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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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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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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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.