Lefty Looking to Take Major Stride

By Mercer BaggsAugust 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. ' Much of the attention at the 87th PGA Championship is focused on Tiger Woods and his pursuit of another three-win major season.
 
And so it is that just about every one of the other 155 players in the field this week have been asked for their assessments of what Woods has already accomplished ' two wins and a runner-up in three major starts this year, and what might be should he win yet again.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson hopes his game plan will result in winning a second major title.
Lets answer that one a little later, responded Phil Mickelson with a wry smile.
 
Mickelsons concern this week is not with Woods. Hes well aware that he has no control on how well his rival will play. His concern is solely with himself ' and judging by his performance in the majors this season, there is concern to be had.
 
A year ago at this time, Mickelson was preparing at Whistling Straits with thoughts of capping his greatest-ever major campaign. Now hes at Baltusrol Golf Club trying to avoid one of his worst.
 
Mickelson has yet to contend for a major championship this year, having finished 10th at the Masters, tied for 33rd at the U.S. Open and tied for 60th at the Open Championship ' a combined 36 strokes behind the winners.
 
His results gradually depreciated last year as well; though, they went from a win to a runner-up to a third-place showing to a tie for sixth. In the three majors in which he didnt prevail, he was a combined five strokes removed from those who did.
 
Mickelson began this year strongly with three PGA Tour victories before the Masters, providing great hope and greater expectations in relation to the major championships.
 
But not only has he yet to perform up to his elevated standards in the elite events, he hasnt procured a top-5 finish anywhere since the Masters precursor, the BellSouth Classic.
 
I had a great start to the year, and (felt) like I was playing very well. I just didnt play the best during the summer, he said. But I think that things are turning around and Im looking forward to finishing off the year right.
 
Its been a great three weeks since the British Open for me. Ive had some great ideas on how to start playing the way I feel I can and know that I can.
 
While his results in the majors this season may be different from that of 2004, his preparations have yet to change.
 
Just as he has done since last years Masters ' where ended his 0-for-46 streak in the majors, Mickelson arrived on site at Baltusrol in advance of tournament week.
 
Mickelson prepped at length on the Lower Course the Sunday and Monday before last weeks International. He then competed in the Colorado event with thoughts of Jersey in the forefront of his mind, using the Jack Nicklaus-designed Castle Pines course as training grounds for Baltusrol.
 
A Nicklaus course favors a left-to-right shot, and all last week I was hitting right-to-left fades, because thats all Ill hit here. Youll see me hit fade after fade on this course because I want to take the right side out of play on most every hole. So I was trying to hit those exact shots last week that I was going to hit here, he said.
 
I want to put everything that I have into this one championship.
 
Having played the 7,396-yard, par-70 Lower Course on multiple occasions, Mickelson knows what it will take to contend this week: I think length could be a factor (given the soft conditions), but I think the most important thing is just to play well and hit the shots.
 
'Put it in the fairway.'
 
But its what hes done ' or hasnt been able to do ' in the seasons first three majors that has taught him what he needs to do in order to win this week.
 
If I look statistically, my putting has been the one area on these quick, fast greens in the majors, that has not been to the same level as last year, so thats something Ive been working on and hopefully have figured it out, he said. The greens here, I feel like I have a pretty good feel on, and they roll so true and perfectly. I feel very confident on them.
 
'Putting is really a tough thing,' said Dave Pelz, Mickelson's short-game instructor. 'This year his rhythm hasn't been very good. It's a little surprising after how well things went last year.'
 
Mickelson is the eternal optimist. And as much as success in the majors means to him, hes trying not to overemphasize their importance ' something hes tried to do his entire career.
 
The ultimate evaluation of his season ' this one or any other, he says, will not be determined in these four events ' let alone in just one week.
 
I wouldnt put it to that degree, no, he replied when asked if this event would make or break his year, but it could certainly make my perception of the way I feel about my performance (in) the four majors do a 180 this year.
 
But I would not wrap up the whole year into how I played in the four majors, because starting the year I felt that I had achieved a couple of things in my game that I had been wanting to do for a while.
 
I feel like there were some good strides taken in 2005.
 
Just no major strides ' at least not yet.
 
Related Links:
  • Photo Gallery
  • Full Coverage - 87th PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.