Putting continues to bedevil Mickelson

By John HawkinsJanuary 27, 2012, 11:47 pm

We should know by now never to presume anything with Phil Mickelson, a man who has been down every road and a few that didn’t make the map. The achievements obviously outweigh the busts, but more than most hall of famers, Mickelson’s career has been a mix of unpredictability and volatility. When it comes to expectations, you enter at your own risk.

That doesn’t make Lefty’s 2012 debut at Torrey Pines any less shocking. He referred to his opening-round 77 as pathetic – too much to overcome Friday, when a 68 left him two off the cut. It wasn’t so much Thursday’s bloated score that caught my attention as the way Mickelson produced that 77. His short game was as sloppy as I’ve ever seen it. He needed 32 putts despite hitting just nine greens, a combination far more likely to come from a 5 or 6 handicap.

Phil Mickelson and Jim McKay at the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open

It wasn’t the vintage Mickelson crash-and-burn, which typically featured a couple of questionable club selections, a heavy foot on the gas pedal and a late water ball. The only similarity between Thursday and yesteryear was that Philly Mick didn’t hit many fairways. In the past, he didn’t always have to. Maybe now he does.

Despite what might be described as a Mickey Lolich physique, Mickelson has remained remarkably healthy during his 20 years on the PGA Tour. Tiger Woods has the chiseled body – and has spent more time on the disabled list than anyone in the game’s top tier. At the age of 41, Lefty’s knees and back work just fine. He has played through the arthritic condition that plagues his hands. His fluctuating weight has never been an issue competitively.

Stanley leads Snedeker by one

He’s still not making putts, however, and that is a malady that can bring down any man who misses half his fairways. The belly putter may have been a passing phase for Mickelson – a false answer to a mid-life crisis for a guy who holed more 15-footers than almost anyone for a long, long time – but the fact that he even tried a broomstick hints at a problem that may not come and go.

You look at the number of tour pros who have won major titles in their 40s, and it’s a very short list. Mickelson is anything but your Average Pro, and it’s worth noting that he claimed all four of his majors after a decade of Big Sunday futility. His career has followed a unique path, making him one of the 20 greatest golfers ever, but at some point, everyone must accept the notion that they aren’t as good as they once were.

Conventional wisdom, with an assist from history, tells us that it often happens to a player in his early 40s. To overstate the significance of Mickelson’s 77 would be silly – it was one bad round that he followed up with a fairly decent one. Since a statistically superb 2008, however, his numbers, particularly on the greens, have gone in the wrong direction. And since his stirring triumph at the 2010 Masters, Mickelson’s results have not been befitting: just one win in 34 starts.

That victory occurred last April at the Shell Houston Open. Three months later, Lefty finished second at the British Open, a sweet-and-sour runner-up that remains the last time in was in serious contention. Sweet because he overcame a history of mediocre play at the British. Sour because he would have won the tournament if he’d made his 4-footers.

Six weeks later, Mickelson showed up at the Deutsche Bank Championship with a belly in his bag – a radical, do-whatever-it-takes move that didn’t resolve the matter. I was fortunate enough to play a round of golf with Lefty back in the fall of 1999. We went out to Peachtree CC in Atlanta the day after the Tour Championship, and in four hours, I learned more from Mickelson about reading greens than I could have figured out myself in 40 years.

I know he can still read ‘em. I’m just not positive he can still make ‘em.

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Watch: Hahn slam-dunks ace on 11th hole

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:20 pm

There are aces, and there are slam-dunk aces. No question which one this one by James Hahn on the 154-yard 11th hole was.

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Els' nephew Rebula wins Amateur Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:05 pm

Ernie Els is one proud uncle.

His nephew, Jovan Rebula, won the Amateur Championship on Saturday at Royal Aberdeen to become the first South African to capture the title since Bobby Cole in 1966.

Rebula, a junior at Auburn, will join his famous uncle in Carnoustie next month for The Open. He also will get invites to the 2019 Masters and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Rebula defeated Ireland's Robin Dawson, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final.

"It’s unreal," Rebula said. "It’s really something that is hard to describe. I feel like many have been in this position before but it’s an unreal feeling. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet but hopefully tomorrow morning I can wake up and I will feel a little different."

Rebula received plenty of texts from Els throughout the week, and the encouragement paid off. Rebula opened a 1-up lead after 18 holes, and he extended his advantage by winning the 26th and 27th holes. He was 5 up with six to play before finally closing out Dawson on the 16th hole with an up-and-down from the bunker.

"It’s been a long week and especially today," Rebula said. "I should have finished maybe a couple of holes earlier, but it’s been awesome. A very tiring week. I’m standing here right now and there’s so much adrenaline pumping through me."

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Squirrel gets Rory's round off to a rocky start

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 6:42 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy’s third round at the Travelers Championship got off to a peculiar start before he even hit a shot.

McIlroy had just been introduced on the first tee at TPC River Highlands and was ready to unload on his opening drive of the day when a squirrel ran across the tee box a few feet in front of him.

McIlroy stopped his swing and laughed it off, but the squirrel continued to linger for several seconds, criss-crossing from one side of the packed tee box to the other. And while this was no black cat, the pump-fake to start his round didn’t exactly help the Ulsterman.

McIlroy ultimately blocked his drive into the right rough after enduring his brief rodent delay en route to an opening bogey, and amid soft conditions at TPC River Highlands he played his first five holes in 2 over. McIlroy started the day at 7 under, three shots behind leader Brian Harman.

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Kaymer in six-way tie for BMW International lead

By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 5:29 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - Danish golfer Lucas Bjerregaard shot a 5-under 67 to equal the week's lowest round for a six-way share of the lead after the third round of the BMW International Open on Saturday.

Bjerregaard had eight birdies, a double bogey and a bogey to finish on 5-under 211 - jumping 23 places and joining local favorites Martin Kaymer and Maximilian Kieffer, England's Chris Paisley and Aaron Rai, and Australia's Scott Hend at the top of the leaderboard.

Bjerregaard was fortunate to play before the wind picked up again later in the afternoon.

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Kaymer, the 2008 champion, delighted the home supporters with two birdies in his last three holes for a 71.

Finland's Mikko Korhonen and Chile's Nico Geyger were one shot off the lead after rounds of 69 and 73, respectively.

Defending champion Andres Romero equaled the week's best round (67) to be among a large group two shots off the lead going into Sunday, including three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.

Romero is bidding to be the first player to retain the title.