Mickelson still has hunger to play great golf

By Jason SobelFebruary 2, 2012, 12:53 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Phil Mickelson would like you to know that he isn’t done yet. Isn’t done competing, isn’t done winning and isn’t done being motivated for both.

Despite what the rumors may claim.

In today’s need-it-now, 140-character, McNugget-eating, McMansion-building, mile-a-minute society, conclusions often come quicker than facts. No point in waiting on a result when an opinion can be formed in the time it takes to microwave dinner.

Golf is hardly immune to such knee-jerk reactions. Exhibit A: Tiger Woods. In the past two years, he’s been both “BACK!” and “DONE!” not with every tournament or even every round, but in so many cases, on a shot-by-shot basis.

In an ironic twist of events, Mickelson can feel his pain.

One round through his season-opening appearance at the Humana Challenge, the mercurial left hander had saddled himself with a 2-over 74 that included two bogeys, a double and a triple. Suddenly his inspiration was being questioned. With his World Golf Hall of Fame induction coming this May and with 39 career PGA Tour victories and four major championships already to his credit, it could be surmised that Mickelson is not only done playing his best golf but is done wanting to play his best golf.

Hold that thought.

He followed with scores of 69-66-69 the next three rounds and though he didn’t contend, he easily made the three-round cut.

Fast forward a few days and again Mickelson’s motivation was again being examined after an opening-round 77 at Torrey Pines’ South Course that led to a missed cut at an event he has won three previous times.

His explanation? “I don't know what happened last week,” he said. “I'm going to put it as something I'm going to shrug off because I know that my practice sessions have been really good.”

Mickelson maintained that his motivation remains as high as ever.

“I love to compete. I'm excited about this year. I'm ready to play,” he said prior to competing in this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. “Bringing it from the practice session and bringing it out on the golf course, that's my challenge right now, because I was able to … get my putting where I want it. My putting feels terrific. I felt it was the last physical part of my game that needed some work, and it feels great. Now I've just got to get it from the practice tee to the golf course.”

Ever the optimist, Lefty said Wednesday that he’s looking at this week’s festivities – and yes, the WMPO must always be described as “festivities” – as the start to his season, and he will try to forget that those first two weeks ever happened.

It would be a daunting proposition for most other players, but such has become the norm for Mickelson, who can go from MC to W and back to MC like nobody in recent memory.

While playing successful golf may still be at the forefront of his career goals, there’s no question Mickelson has growing interests in other aspects of the game. Following last week’s event at Torrey Pines, he offered to redesign the North Course for no fee, only wanting to “fix” the layout out of the goodness of his heart.

“Well, I tried to underbid everybody. That was the goal,” he said with a laugh. “It has been a dream of mine to turn that golf course into what I know it can be. We will spend countless hours making sure that that course is right because the first goal is to make it playable. It's got to be playable for everybody.

“I'm excited about this opportunity because it's the most beautiful canvas out there, and it has not been utilized properly, and I feel like after playing for so many decades and looking at these courses and appreciating all their beauty, to try to take that and integrate it into a course that I love is a fun opportunity.”

When asked whether such pursuits as course design and other business related to the industry could affect life inside the ropes, Mickelson deferred.

“It certainly can if you let it, but that's why I have to isolate it,” he explained. “That's why this is a perfect fit. It's in San Diego when I am home. I always take a week off after I play for a few weeks, so it's a perfect opportunity for me to go spend time after I drop the kids off at school, go spend a few hours on the golf course 15 minutes away.”

Even if his playing career is far from over, it appears Mickelson is already starting to set himself up for life after tournament golf – much like so many other Hall of Famers have done before him.

Early Wednesday morning, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem met with Mickelson on the practice range at TPC-Scottsdale and implored him to not think about the Champions Tour “until he’s 55 or 56 years old.” The commish may have a pie-in-the-sky outlook if he believes the player will be competing on a weekly basis for the next decade-and-a-half, but he also realizes that life after Phil will never be life devoid of Phil.

“The sky is the limit for Phil. He can do whatever he wants,” Finchem said. “I would hope that his playing career has a long way to go, but beyond that, I think he’s a smart guy, he’s so personable, he’s got a good business mind – I think he can be invaluable in a lot of different ways. He can design golf courses, he can work with the charity interface, he’s a good spokesperson. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone better with sponsor customers than Phil Mickelson.”

He claims he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. There’s no reason to extrapolate – even in our need-it-now times – two sub-par performances into a lack of motivation, desire or talent. Mickelson will have another chance to prove the doubters wrong this week. And if it doesn’t happen here, then he’s got the next week and the week after that, too.

Sure, he may be setting himself up for life after competition, but that doesn’t mean such a time is impending – and according to him, it’s certainly not here right now.

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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''