Mickelson shrugs off another U.S. Open defeat

By Jason SobelJune 16, 2014, 6:00 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – Phil Mickelson walked off Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday afternoon, putter in hand and familiar smile on his face. There was no calling himself an idiot this time. He wasn’t burying his head in his hands or grabbed by the cheeks in consolation by a fellow competitor.

The man who’s endured so many close calls at the U.S. Open – six of 'em, to be exact, where he was defeated by only one other competitor – was never close enough in this one to feel the sting of another mind-numbing loss in the one tournament which has so deftly eluded his grasp throughout the years.

And so following a final-round score of 72 that eventually left him in a share of 28th place, it stood to reason that this was actually a more palatable end result. That finishing 16 shots behind the winner was an easier pill to swallow than succumbing by one measly stroke and forever regretting a single wayward tee shot or balky putt. That losing big is better than losing small.

Mickelson quickly took a lashing 3-iron to that theory.

“It is way worse,” he said of failing to get into serious contention.

You could tell he meant it, too.


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This is a player who thrives on the heat of the battle, who desperately wants an opportunity to win a golf tournament on Sunday afternoon. Especially this one, the one that’s always gotten away.

“There's nothing more exciting than having a chance,” he explained. “There's nothing more exciting than waking up Sunday with a 3:25 tee time and an opportunity to win the U.S. Open, whether you win or lose, because that pressure, that nervous feeling, those butterflies, that energy from the crowd when you make a birdie, the excitement, there's no replacement for that. That's why we play.”

That’s why Mickelson will keep playing, too, every year the U.S. Open will allow him, repeatedly searching for that missing puzzle piece to his career Grand Slam.

He turned 44 on Monday and if his window to win this championship is starting to close even slightly, he isn’t willing to admit it. Publicly, at least, Mickelson is still brimming with optimism. He’s still clinging to the dream that he’s not only going to win once, he’s going to add multiple U.S. Open titles to his resume.

It’s this confidence that allowed him to win his first major at age 34, after so many years of knocking on the proverbial doors. It’s the same confidence that allowed him to win four more, including last year’s Open Championship on the type of course to which he’d never before grown accustomed.

“I believe in the next five years I'm going to have three or four really good chances,” he said. “And I do believe I will get it.”

Of course, there are some forces working against him.

In the history of major championships, only seven players 44 or older have won – and just one of those wins came at the U.S. Open, when Hale Irwin triumphed at the age of 45 in 1990.

Then there’s the list of course venues. Next year’s tournament will be held at Chambers Bay for the first time, a great unknown if there’s ever been one. Same goes for that of 2017, which will be played at Erin Hills. Those will sandwich a return to Oakmont in two years, not a favorite of Mickelson, who injured his wrist hitting out of the dense rough prior to the 2007 edition of the event, then failed to make the cut.

He won’t get a chance to play Shinnecock Hills, where he finished second in 2004, until four years from now. He’ll turn 48 that week – the same age as Julius Boros when he became the oldest major champion in history. Pebble Beach, where he’s won four regular PGA Tour titles, comes one year later, followed by Winged Foot (second place in 2006) and Torrey Pines (where he’s won three times on Tour).

By the time he reaches that latter course, so synonymous with his image, Mickelson will be 51 years old. It’s difficult to believe he’ll be able to contend for this elusive title at that point, but this is a player who’s thrived on proving people wrong throughout his career.

In the aftermath of his 28th-place result at Pinehurst, he could have bellyached about time running out. He could have wallowed in self-pity after so publicly proclaiming that he was putting all of his eggs in this basket, that his entire year was geared toward trying to finally win the U.S. Open.

Instead, he just smiled about a week that never went his way.

“I'm not upset or disappointed,” he said. “I will have more chances.”

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Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 10:57 pm

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.

Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.

''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''

Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.

A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.

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''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''

The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Web.com Tour.

''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''

Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.

''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''

McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.

''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''

Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.

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Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 10:33 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Ian Poulter was not happy, and it was only partially because of his blowout loss to Kevin Kisner in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Following his morning victory in the round of 16 over Louis Oosthuizen, the Englishman was incorrectly informed that by making it to the Elite 8 at Austin Country Club he was assured enough Official World Golf Raking points to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters in two weeks.

“I should never listen to other people,” Poulter said following his 8-and-6 loss to Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals. “When you finish a round of golf and the press and everybody is telling you you're in the Masters, and then you get a text message 10 minutes before you tee off to correct everybody, to say, ‘Oh, we've made a mistake, actually, no, that was wrong, you're not in. You need to go and win.’

“Not that that's an excuse in any form or factor, it's a little disappointing.”

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Poulter actually needed to advance to the semifinal round to move into the top 50. Instead, his last chance to qualify for the Masters is to win next week’s Houston Open, although he was unsure if he’d play the event.

“I don't know yet, I haven't decided,” said Poulter when asked if he’d play next week. “I'm tired. It's been a long week. It's been a draining week. I'll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy then I will.”

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Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 9:34 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.

“I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”

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By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.

“I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.

Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.

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Hahn: 'My fault for not expecting the worst from fans'

By Grill Room TeamMarch 24, 2018, 8:35 pm

Fan behavior has made headlines all year long on the PGA Tour, and the topic of conversation doesn't look like it’s going away anytime soon.

The latest example came on Friday at the WGC-Dell Technologies March Play, when James Hahn took to Twitter to complain that a fan deliberately yelled in his backswing on the 15th hole during his match with Jason Dufner, which he lost 3 and 2.

“Whether we like it or not, this is where the game is going,” he tweeted. “My fault for not expecting the worst from fans. Just sucks to lose a match that way.”

The two-time PGA Tour winner followed up his original tweet, clarifying that he can expect bad behavior from all golf fans while still loving and respecting them.

He also pointed out a major difference in comparing golf to other sports, saying some PGA Tour players go to far greater lengths than the typical NFL star to engage with fans on a daily basis.

The incident comes on the heels of several recent player run-ins with fans, including Justin Thomas at the Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Sergio Garcia earlier this week at Austin Country Club.

On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said that inappropriate fan behavior related to alcohol sales is something his staff is monitoring.