Cleaning up the park

By Randall MellOctober 9, 2009, 6:01 am

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco’s United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 38 should make Phil Mickelson an honorary member.

Now Mickelson knows what it’s like to be a plumber on emergency call.

He would have been well-served tossing a club out of his bag before Thursday’s lead-off match to the Presidents Cup and inserting a plunger.

Time after time early in the foursomes match, Mickelson waded in to clean up somebody else’s mess.

Well, Anthony Kim’s mess.

Mickelson’s superior clean-up skills kept the Americans close in a very untidy alternate-shot match until Kim got hot on the back nine and the duo put away the scrappy International team of Mike Weir and Tim Clark 3 and 2.

Phil Mickelson Presidents Cup
Phil Mickelson plays Anthony Kim's tee shot on the 10th hole during the Thursday's foursomes at the Presidents Cup. (Getty Images)

“We didn’t play the best the first 10 holes, obviously,” Mickelson said. “We fought to keep in the match.”

And then close it out with four consecutive birdies.

Kim wasn’t the only player struggling early. This match was so bad on the front nine it was worthy of Comedy Central’s Top 10 Plays of the Day, if they had such a thing. The sixth hole was a comedy of errors.

With Kim due up on the tee, Mickelson took a shortcut away from the fifth green to watch from aside the sixth fairway.

We’ll let Mickelson pick it up from there.

“Next thing I know, the ball is hooking over my head and is falling straight down in front of me, about 180 yards off the tee,” Mickelson said.

Kim’s wild shot ricocheted off some trees before settling near the base of a tree.

When Mickelson wandered over to inspect the lie, he heard the crack of ball against a tree on the other side of the fairway. He turned to see Weir’s drive, which was even worse than Kim’s.

“Hit a tree and came back on the cart path 70 yards,” Mickelson said. “So they’re 165 yards off the tee.”

Mickelson turned to the gallery huddling around his ball and smirked.

“And this is from the best golf has to offer,” Mickelson cracked.

Folks roared . . . and then they ducked.

Almost as if on cue, another errant shot came whistling over Mickelson’s head from another direction.

Ernie Els, playing in the match behind Mickelson, hit a hook that slammed into a cart 20 yards behind Mickelson.

This is where Mickelson got to show how clever he can be. With almost no backswing trying to punch back into the sixth fairway, he decided to turn his stance and aim left. He hit a wicked hook up the wrong fairway, on purpose. He played up the fifth fairway to give Kim a shot at the sixth green.

“When it was all said and done, we had 5-footers for bogey,” Mickelson said. “We made ours, they missed theirs and we won the hole.”

Mickelson and Kim bogeyed the second, sixth, seventh and ninth holes but were still only 1 down making the turn. That’s because Weir and Clark couldn’t make a birdie all day. Both teams shot 39 on the front nine and looked as if they might have trouble breaking 80.

“I was a little heavy on the front nine, but Phil picked me up, and fortunately I got some opportunities on the back nine,” Kim said.

The second nine didn’t start with much promise. Kim sliced his tee shot into the trees at the 10th, his ball dropping behind the giant trunk of a Cypress. Mickelson’s approach shot was blocked, but you could see his mind at work. He looked down at the ball, up at the tree trunk, up at the canopy of branches hanging down like a ceiling atop him and formulated an escape route. He hit a giant hook from 180 yards around the tree, under the branches and onto the green, 30 feet from the pin. Kim missed the birdie putt, but it was a terrific halve.

Dave Stockton, the two-time major championship winner who is now Mickelson’s putting coach, nodded approvingly.

“Foursomes is so tough,” Stockton said. “It tests everything, temperament, everything.”

Mickelson didn’t seem to mind all the tough spots Kim left him. He seemed to relish showing off how creative he can be, but he didn’t have to be in the end. Kim caught fire.

“We felt like at 1 down, if we could get just one little spark to get the round going, that’s all we needed,” Mickelson said.

At the 13th hole, Kim hit a wedge shot to 3 feet to set up Mickelson with an easy birdie putt. At the 14th tee, Kim hit a 7-iron to 18 feet and Mickelson holed another birdie putt.

“I’m feeling really good about my putting,” Mickelson said.

Really, the round was classic Mickelson and Kim, big misses, big makes and big adventure.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

Getty Images

McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

Getty Images

Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

Getty Images

Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.