Mickelson rejuvenated in Round 1 at Quail Hollow

By Randall MellMay 2, 2014, 12:02 am

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Phil Mickelson doesn’t have to look far for motivation with the calendar turning to May.

In a season already deeper in disappointments than Mickelson is accustomed, there’s rejuvenation in the spring air over the Wells Fargo Championship.

Mickelson is practically in the shadow of Pinehurst No. 2 with the U.S. Open just six weeks away.

He played Thursday alongside Justin Rose, who beat him in the final round of the U.S. Open at Merion last year, giving Mickelson a record six second-place finishes in that championship.

Mickelson is walking a course he loves at Quail Hollow, a treasure made over this past year to make it major championship worthy as host of the 2017 PGA Championship.

There’s a crackle in the air with Mickelson looking for the spark he needs to reignite his game, and after a solid start Thursday, there’s a sense this just might be the place for him to find it.

“It was a really good round for me, a great way to start the tournament,” Mickelson said. 

With a 5-under-par 67, Mickelson moved into early contention at Quail Hollow, just one shot back of Angel Cabrera.

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If Mickelson, 43, is going to get some momentum going in his bid to finally win his first U.S. Open and complete the career grand slam, this is the place to do it.

“I really enjoy the golf course,” Mickelson said. “I've always loved it, tee to green. I just think it's one of the best I've seen, and it requires such great shot making, in all different directions off the tee, as well as onto the greens. The greens now are just stupendous. They match up perfectly with the beauty and the simplicity of the design.”

The U.S. Open’s shadow hangs over this portion of the season, but there wasn’t much spoken about it in the Mickelson/Rose/Lee Westwood pairing, other than queries as to who has gotten over for a practice round yet.

“I didn’t want to bring up the U.S. Open with Phil,” Rose said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a player, and I think we would all like to see him to win one. Hopefully, not when I’m in contention. Six times second, last major championship he hasn’t won, I think everyone would be happy for him if he goes ahead and wins it.”

Mickelson opened strong Thursday, carving his approach at the first hole to 2 feet and making birdie. He hit his approach at the third to 8 feet and made birdie there. He pitched to 2 feet at the seventh for another birdie and carved a half wedge to 8 feet at the eighth for yet another birdie.

“I haven't gotten off to great starts,” Mickelson said of his sluggish season. “I was trying to get a good focus, to get a good round in on Thursday, because I always feel like I'm playing from behind. So, to get off to a quick start is really a good sign, and what I needed.”

Mickelson has won in each of the last 10 years, but more than halfway through this wraparound season, he’s winless. In 10 starts this year, Mickelson has withdrawn or missed the cut in four of them. He has yet to record a top-10 finish.

A bad back hasn’t helped him. Twice this year, he WD’d because of his back, or issues related to his back.

Slow starts have troubled him most of late. Mickelson opened the Masters with a 76 in his last start and missed the cut. He has opened three of his last four starts with rounds of 74 or higher.

“It feels great to get off to a quick start,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson putted well, though he missed a 4-footer for par at the 17th, a bogey that cost him a share of the lead. After hitting his tee shot at the 18th into a fairway bunker, he showed some resolve playing out of an awkward stance. He ended up holing a 9-footer to save par and close his round.

“Hit a lot of good iron shots, and I had a couple of areas I can improve on,” Mickelson said. “My chipping was poor, at best, and my putting was unbelievable, covered up for a lot of mistakes.”

And set the table to make a run at some big prizes.

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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.