Tiger and Phil Playing Nice

By Mercer BaggsAugust 15, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill ' A bit of buzz floated around Medinah Country Club Tuesday morning, word that Phil Mickelsons short-game instructor, Dave Pelz, had talked a little trash in comparing his guy to Tiger Woods.
Pelz was quoted in Tuesdays edition of the Chicago Tribune as saying, When Phils at his best, Im thinking that nobody can beat him.
When asked if that included Woods, Pelz reportedly responded, You bet it does.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods and caddie during Tuesday's practice round at Medinah.
Not exactly Yo Mamma talk, but in the low-key, toned-down world of golf it definitely qualifies as spicy commentary.
Mickelson and Woods will play together over the first two rounds of the 88th PGA Championship. But, before anyone could get too excited about the notion of public spat, the two quickly diffused the situation.
When hearing about Pelz comments for the first time, Woods smile and replied, I think Im pretty tough to beat when Im playing well, too.
And, as Forrest Gump said: Thats all I have to say about that.
Mickelsons press conference was held immediately after Tigers. When asked about the quotes, Mickelson smiled as well and said, My man ' hes enthusiastic. I have tried to not give you (the media) too much to run with, and so Im paying other people now to do it.
Tuesday night, speaking to The Golf Channel, Pelz reiterated his comments, which were originally made last Friday, but not printed until Tuesday.
'I don't mean any disrespect to Tiger,' he made sure to point out. 'Inside 150 yards, if you get all the best players in the world, time and time and time again, I'm sure not going to bet against Phil.'
Both men made light of the situation, skirting any potential controversy by injecting a little humor. Of course, that was their public reaction ' how they feel in private may be another issue.
Woods isnt one to accept criticism well from others. Just ask Stephen Ames (see 2006 Accenture Match Play) or Michael Campbell (see 2000 Match Play) or Vijay Singh (see 2000 Presidents Cup) or any broadcaster that has dared say anything negative about his swing.
You can even ask Mickelson. He quipped in 2003 that Woods used 'inferior equipment.' The two were paired together soon thereafter in the final round of the Buick Invitational. Tiger, coming off knee surgery, shot 68, four better than Mickelson, and won by six.
But its not like Woods, who won his first of two straight PGA Championships at Medinah in 1999, needed any more motivation leading up to the seasons final major. According to him, theres really only one thing that stokes his competitive fire.
Ws, he said, referring to wins. Just getting Ws. Thats why I play, is to win and to beat everybody in the field. Thats fun.
And then he smiled again.
Woods has had plenty of success recently beating up on everyone else. Hes won his last two starts, which include the Open Championship and the Buick Open. In the former, he implemented a near driver-less approach ' and executed the strategy to near perfection ' to scratch out victory. In the latter, he opened the throttle, making a career-high 28 birdies in blowing past the field.
He enters this event feeling much like he did during his great runs in 1999 and 2000.
As far as the comparison, I think its very similar, he said. I think Ive had some great steps in my career out here so far, and this is certainly one of them. Hopefully, I can keep it going for a while.
While Woods was very focused and direct in his press conference, Mickelson was more playful, cracking jokes in response to nearly every question asked.
But their contrasting attitudes have no direct correlation to the current state of their games. Because while Woods is riding a high right now, Phil is trying to climb out of a trough.
It wasnt long ago that Mickelson was considered by many to be the best player in the world, regardless of ranking.
Then came the 72nd hole at Winged Foot.
Mickelson double bogeyed the final hole of the U.S. Open to lose by one and has since yet to crack the top 20 in three starts. That includes a tie for 65th at the Western Open, a tie for 22nd at the Open Championship, and a missed cut last week at The International.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is all smiles Tuesday, despite some poor play recently.
Such results have left many to believe that he is still suffering from a Winged Foot hangover.
Its a fair assessment. I havent played to the level that I expected to in those three events that I have played, he said, noting that he has never had much success in either the Western Open or the Open Championship.
He also joked: Heres a great example of how Tiger and I prepare differently. He goes into the PGA Championship thinking that winning the British and winning the Buick Open is the best way (to prepare), and I go in thinking that missing the cut is the best.
Jack Benny, ladies and gentlemen.
While not working on his comic routine, Mickelson, as he has done at past majors, spent a few extra days prior to this week prepping his game for Medinah. He said that he may or may not implement the two driver approach that he did in winning the Masters, but that if he does, he will use the long driver on the par-5s and the cut driver on some of the par-4s. He said that he also plans to use his 3- and 4-woods when necessary off the tee, and will use the 4-wood as an escape club from the rough.
Woods, meanwhile, said that his plan of attack will consist of about six drivers per round, using the big stick on the four par-5s and on a couple of par-4s. He said that, like in 1999, he will dish out a steady diet of 2-irons and 3-woods off the tee.
Rounding out the Mickelson, Woods grouping is U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. And, after watching their contentious partnership in the 2004 Ryder Cup, hes as curious as anyone to see how they will interact; though, he expects plenty of friendly banter.
They didnt appear to be best friends that day, I dont know. They walked on the first tee and they were on both sides of the tee, Ogilvy recalled.
Theyre the two best golfers in the world, and you guys (the media) want a story, and thats a bit of a story. Im sure theyll be best friends talking to each other for the first 36 holes; I dont know, but itll be interesting to see.
Woods and Mickelson swear to they bear no hostility towards one another. But, contrary to Ogilvys belief, there wont be much conversation between the two these two days.
I dont really talk a whole lot in major championships, Woods said.
Ive played with some of my best friends, played with obviously Marko (Mark OMeara) in a major before and didnt say a word to him all day except, Heres your card. Thats just the way it is. Im trying to win a golf tournament.
In the final round of this years Masters, Mickelson shared a genial and loquacious twosome with Fred Couples. When asked about the difference between that pairing and what expects out of this grouping, he replied simply, Amount of conversation.
This will be only the second time that Mickelson and Woods have played together in a major. The first time was in the final round of the 2001 Masters Tournament. Woods, leading by a stroke to start the round, shot 68 to Mickelsons 69 to win by two, earning his fourth consecutive major victory.
Both men acknowledged that playing together this time around will be much, much different than it was five years ago, if only because of the fact that theyll be competing side-by-side at the beginning of the week instead of at the end.
Its different, Woods said. On a Thursday and Friday ' youre just getting started, getting into a rhythm of the round, into the rhythm of the tournament, trying to position yourself and see what happens on the weekend.
Sunday, now weve got everything on the line.
And Mickelson would dearly love to be playing alongside Woods this Sunday ' under the appropriate circumstances.
Well, if it means were playing well and in the last groups, thats great; Id love it. But if we just make the cut, well, thats not so much fun, Mickelson said.
Hes won his last two tournaments, so hes going to be there. Now Ive got to do my job and get there as well.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

    IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

    Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

    Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

    Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

    Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

    Getty Images

    Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

    By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

    Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

    Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

    And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

    “The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

    Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

    Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

    Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

    Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

    “I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

    Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

    A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

    It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

    There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

    Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

    The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

    Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

    “I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

    Getty Images

    Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

    By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

    In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

    Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

    With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    "Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

    So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

    "I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

    Getty Images

    Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

    By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

    Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

    On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

    And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

    "I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

    "I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

    He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

    Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

    With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

    But he isn't celebrating just yet.

    "It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

    "So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."