Mickelson looking for love

By Jason SobelJuly 12, 2011, 5:36 pm

SANDWICH, England – It’s like the premise of some intolerable romantic comedy featuring – oh, let’s go with Ashton Kutcher and Kate Hudson. Or maybe Ryan Reynolds and Reese Witherspoon. Whichever coupling you find more intolerable.

You know the kind. Boy meets girl. Boy infuriates girl. Boy infuriated by girl. Boy and girl infuriate one another so much that they each find it attractive in a hate-filled sort of way. Boy keeps hanging around girl. Boy bumps into girl and accidentally kisses her. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl live happily ever after. Roll the credits.

It’s a story which may play out in real life this week, but instead of Ashton and Kate – or Ryan and Reese – in the starring roles, the part of the boy will be filled by Phil Mickelson and the part of that infuriated – and infuriating – girl will be filled by none other than his long-despised adversary, Lady Links.

It’s no secret that these two haven’t often seen eye to eye. Mickelson has been spurned time and time again on this type of golf course, finishing in the top 10 just once in 17 previous Open Championship appearances. Meanwhile, links golf hasn’t exactly grown affection for him, either, repeatedly passing on his advancements of high-trajectory ball flight and lob shots in favor of other leading men.

According to Mickelson, we’re at the crucial turning point in the film. The two main characters met long ago, forming this dalliance that has kept them physically linked for one week every summer yet emotionally apart for so many years. Little by little, though, their passionate animosity has started to melt away and each is now seeing the good things in the other.

Yes, love is in the air here at Royal St. George’s.

“I’m really coming to enjoy and appreciate the challenge that links golf provides,” Mickelson said after his Tuesday practice round. “I’ve always enjoyed it. I haven’t necessarily done it very well. I haven’t performed very well, but I feel much better on the greens.”

Whether this is actually the case or just a typical bit of Mickelspeak remains to be seen. More than ever before, he is saying all the right things about competing on a links course, using those words – “enjoy” and “appreciate” – to summarize his feelings about such an undertaking.

Consider it part of an overall overhaul toward this new strategy for playing this type of golf.

“You know, I’m entering this year kind of like a fresh start, if you will,” he explained. “I’m not going to worry about past performances and I’m going to try to learn and enjoy the challenge of playing links golf. And I’m having fun doing that. I’m trying to pretend like it’s my first time here and appreciate playing the ball on the ground on days like this.

“I’m trying not to dwell and don’t want to look back on my past performances that haven’t been what I expect. But I feel excited and kind of reinvigorated to come over here and try to learn this style of golf and play it effectively.”

Much like the eventual lovers in every romantic comedy of the past two decades, it’s taken Mickelson and Lady Links quite a while to get acquainted to each other’s quirks and learn to accept them. Lefty is the world’s most creative golfer, but often employs an aerial assault that isn’t conducive to this style. Meanwhile, Lady Links often rewards the most creative players, but has thwarted Mickelson’s attempts for success, most notably at Royal Troon seven years ago, when his lone title contention at this tournament left him one stroke out of a playoff.

So why will things be different this time? Why will this be the year a forever-jilted Mickelson finally makes that love connection with the links?

Well, other than following the archetypal script, there’s no reason to believe otherwise. Not only does Phil own an unimpressive links record, he’s also posted relatively pedestrian results this season, including a share of 58th place at last week’s Scottish Open.

“I’m trying to learn it all from the start, from scratch,” he said. “So I think I can say I’m going in with an open mind on some of the new ideas to play the course and hopefully play it effectively.”

The script has been written. The stage has been set. Now it’s time to see whether two of this week’s main characters will finally play their part or whether Phil Mickelson’s role as the lovelorn male lead is completely miscast.

Getty Images

Fisher becomes first in Euro Tour history to shoot 59

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 11:29 am

There’s never been a sub-60 score on the European Tour, and Oliver Fisher almost went two strokes better Friday at the Portugal Masters.

Fisher’s 40-footer on the final green burned the edge, but he tapped in the short par putt to record the first 59 in tour history.   

“It feels great,” he said after getting sprayed with champagne. “It was in the back of my mind all day.”

It didn’t look like it.

The 287th-ranked player in the world, Fisher made 10 birdies, an eagle and seven pars during his magical round.

All of the other major pro tours have produced a 59 – nine times on the PGA Tour; once on the LPGA – but this was the first time that a player on the European Tour broke the sub-60 barrier. (There have been 19 rounds of 60.) Earlier this year, at the Scottish Open, Brandon Stone narrowly missed an 8-footer on the final green during the final round. This tournament has produced a few chances, as well, with both Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts coming up just short over the past few years.

Fisher went out in 28 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, then made three birdies in a row to start the back nine. He tacked on another birdie on 15 to give himself a shot at history, then played the closing stretch in 1 under. On 16, he needed a 20-footer for par after leaving his tee shot well short of the flag. He two-putted for birdie on 17 and then coolly made par on the last, after his birdie try from 40 feet just missed on the left edge.

Two years ago, he arrived in Portugal needed a good result just to keep his card. He shot a final-round 64. 

On Friday, he made tour history.

“I kept that in the back of my mind, thinking things could be worse,” he said. 


To this point, Fisher had a forgettable season. Ranked 72nd in the Race to Dubai, he didn’t have a top-10 in a stroke-play event since late February. His last four results: MC-T71-MC-MC. He opened the Portugal Masters with a 71 and was in danger of missing the cut.

Now, improbably, he’s in position to score his second European Tour title, after capturing the 2011 Czech Open.

“I tried to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s not often that we get a chance to shoot a really low one.”

Getty Images

Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

Getty Images

McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

Getty Images

Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”