Mickelson's WD raises many questions

By Jason SobelJune 1, 2012, 1:20 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – In the hours directly after Phil Mickelson’s withdrawal from the Memorial Tournament due to “mental fatigue,” I received hundreds of emails and tweets. Just about half felt that Mickelson should be exonerated from any wrongdoing because of his two decade-long commitment to competing in PGA Tour events without having any track record of bowing out early. Meanwhile, the other half believes he should be held accountable for quitting on the performance without seeing it to fruition.

The one thing we can all agree upon: This is a hot-button issue for which there are no easy answers.

That’s because there are so many different layers to the story. Without a clear-cut, yes or no conclusion to most of the questions currently being asked, we have to explore the gray areas. Let’s break down a few of the major components to this issue:

Does Mickelson have a greater responsibility than lesser-known PGA Tour players?

Four players withdrew from the Memorial following Thursday’s opening round. Each posted a score of 79 or worse. Of the four, only Tom Gillis listed a reason (back injury) for leaving the tournament early.

Of course, Gillis and fellow WDers Sang-Moon Bae and Boo Weekley don’t sell tickets or help draw television ratings like Mickelson. And yet, holding the Hall of Fame inductee to a higher standard is to claim inequality amongst the PGA Tour ranks.

There’s no right or wrong answer here, but Mickelson never asked to be held more accountable just by winning. He never implored fans to buy tickets to see him, never insisted that they watch telecasts when he’s in contention.

That’s not to say that we can’t criticize him for withdrawing without physical injury, but if we do, we must also scrutinize every other PGA Tour pro who leaves early without a valid excuse every week – and yes, it does happen every week.

Is Mickelson being punished in the court of public opinion for his honesty?

A few weeks ago, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels hit Washington Nationals rookie phenom Bryce Harper with a pitch. When he was asked about it after the game, Hamels neglected the age-old unwritten rule about denying all culpability.

'I was trying to hit him,' the lefty said. 'I'm not going to deny it.'

Rather than play the innocent card, Hamels spoke the truth – and was widely criticized for it. Mickelson’s case is easily analogous. He could have cited a non-threatening tweak to his back or a shoulder, which in turn may have helped to explain why he shot 79. Instead, Mickelson told the truth, referencing his “mental fatigue” as the reason, leading to commotion and consternation among the masses.

Or did he? There’s scuttlebutt at Muirfield Village that Mickelson may have been mentally fatigued, but his rationale behind the decision was to send a message to the PGA Tour and this tournament about its cell phone policy, considering he appeared very distracted during the course of play on Thursday.

If that’s the case, then his punishment for being honest serves as delicious irony if he indeed wasn’t completely honest about the reason for withdrawing.

Does the PGA Tour need to rethink its cell phone policy?

In covering many tournaments in the season’s first five months, I’ve noticed that the rule in regard to cell phone use by fans remains wildly inconsistent.

Discussion: Your take on the PGA Tour's cell phone policy

There are some events in which any ticket-holder with a cell phone visibly showing anywhere near the rope line separating galleries from the action are told to put it away and threatened with revocation of their ticket; at other events, there is often little to no policing of the policy at all.

The simple fact is, with voluntary marshals attempting to protect the needs of competitors, there will never a streamlined enforcement policy to which all parties can agree. That said, there needs to be greater consistency from week to week. When it starts affecting play – as it did on Thursday – then it becomes an issue.

The easy answer is for the PGA Tour to ban all cell phones, but in today’s age, officials would risk losing many potential gallery members if cell phones were completely prohibited.

Should Mickelson be suspended or fined by the PGA Tour for withdrawing without an injury?

This one is simple: No.

According to the 2012 PGA Tour player handbook, Article IV, Section A-8 states: “Fatigue will not be considered a valid reason for withdrawing.” However, this particular rule only applies to players who withdraw after committing to a tournament and prior to beginning the opening round or those who withdraw during a tournament round.

After the completion of a tournament round, no reason for withdrawal is necessary. So based on the bylaws of the PGA Tour, he is not subject to any sort of punishment.

Which leads to…

Does the PGA Tour need a stiffer stance on its in-tournament withdrawal policy?

It happens every week. A player – or a number of players – will post an ugly number on Thursday, and then decide that instead of slogging through another 18 holes before slamming the trunk, he’ll cut his losses and head home one day early.

Sure, it would be nice for the PGA Tour to crack down on quitters, but there’s always an easy alibi in place, so it would be impossible to enforce.

Just a few weeks ago, Angel Cabrera hit three balls into the water on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, and then later withdrew from The Players Championship due to “personal reasons.” The announcement drew laughter from the assembled media contingent, which altogether considered three water balls to be very “personal.”

At least Cabrera gave a reason – whether it was genuine or not. The same can’t be said for other players on a week-to-week basis, but the level of wrongdoing can be endlessly debated.

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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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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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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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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.