Mickelson's resiliency brings him more major glory

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2013, 7:00 pm

GULLANE, Scotland – For Lefty, 43 is the new 33.

Stronger than ever and more technically sound, in body and mind, Phil Mickelson did what many believed he couldn’t do on Sunday at Muirfield – win an Open Championship to move within a U.S. Open title of the career Grand Slam.

While Mickelson’s British breakthrough may not exactly hold to predetermined scripts, he has tuned his competitive twilight years into something of a renaissance. The question is no longer, ‘What will Phil do next?’ so much as it is ‘What can’t Phil do?’

Since turning 40 in 2010 few, if any, players in the modern era have transformed themselves as thoroughly as Mickelson, adding five PGA Tour titles to his resume and two majors (2010 Masters and 2013 Open Championship).

Cradling the claret jug late Sunday at Muirfield following his final-round 66 for a three-stroke victory, it was hard to calculate how much ground the southpaw had covered, professionally and personally, since 2010.

Photos: Mickelson through the years

Photos: Mickelson's major victories

142nd Open Championship: Articles, videos and photos

On Aug. 10, 2010, Mickelson stunned a room full of reporters at the PGA Championship when he revealed that he’d been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disease that affects about one in 100 people.

“About eight weeks ago, about five days before the U.S. Open started, I woke up and I had some intense pain in some areas of my body, some joints and tendons and so forth; so much so that I couldn't walk,” he said at the time. “It progressively got worse.”

A year earlier, Mickelson’s wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer and some figured Lefty’s best years were behind him, the victim of poor health and redefined priorities.

But like he did in 2006 after the heartbreak at Winged Foot and last week following another disappointing finish in June at Merion, Mickelson rebounded. The reality is that Mickelson began working harder than ever in the days following his 40th birthday to refine his swing and his body.

“It’s unbelievable really,” said Butch Harmon, Mickelson’s swing coach. “When you think about what he’s been through. Think about the arthritis problems that he had. Think about the problems Amy has had. Think about what he’s been through in his game. He’s probably the most resilient player I’ve ever seen in my life.

“You knock the guy down, he just gets back up. He’s just a champion, always has been.”

Harmon is largely credited for dialing back Mickelson’s more aggressive tendencies, and when he arrived at Augusta National earlier this season with the Phrankenwood, a driver/fairway wood hybrid that took the place of his driver, Harmon considered it a seminal moment.

Mickelson’s penchant to over swing has historically been his competitive blind spot (see Foot, Winged, 2006), but with age, and technology, has come a new found appreciation for restraint.

“It takes away his desire to bomb it,” Harmon said. “Me and Bones (Mickelson’s caddie Jim Mackay) have been trying to dial him back for years.”

That Mickelson is in the best physical shape of his career has also eased Lefty into midlife. The psoriatic arthritis forced Mickelson to adjust his diet – which, he admits, was not always the healthiest – and intensify his workout regimen. Earlier this season at Doral, Lefty estimated he was dropping about a pound a month and had lost 25 pounds over the last two years.

“The amount of preparation he has put into every aspect of his game at this point in his career is phenomenal,” said Sean Cochran, Mickelson’s trainer. “Since 2010, it’s been a progression. Not a week goes by that he doesn’t work.”

In many ways, Mickelson’s midlife crisis was wanting to be better, and with assists from Harmon, Cochran, Dave Stockton Sr. (putting) and Dave Pelz (short game) he set out to not go quietly into middle-aged irrelevance.

“One thing about him is he’s one of those guys that if you stay the same you’re backing up,” Mackay said. “He really works hard to get better; he’s gotten better; he’s 43 years old and getting better.”

There is no question Mickelson remains hungry regardless of his Hall of Fame credentials, but it’s just as clear he does so on his own terms and with a clear agenda. Earlier this month when he missed the cut at The Greenbrier Classic armchair analyst figured he’d slipped into a post-U.S. Open malaise.

Merion, Mickelson’s sixth runner-up finish at his national championship, was seen by some as the ultimate professional haymaker, and his pedestrian record in the Open Championship – he had just one top-10 finish in his first 17 trips across the pond – suggested he was no closer to the claret jug.

But Mickelson arrived in the United Kingdom early to play the Scottish Open, which he won on a new, but authentic, links course at Castle Stuart. And on Sunday at Muirfield he played what many, including Mackay and Harmon, consider the greatest round of his career.

“He’s a resilient guy,” said Mackay, who has been with Mickelson since he turned pro more than two decades ago. “He looks forward; he works hard. How many people build a practice facility in their yard, post-40? He really, really wants it.”

For Lefty, the game isn’t about pay checks or even week-in and week-out performances, it’s about legacy. If he were to collect that elusive U.S. Open title he’d join an uber-exclusive list of just five players to claim the career Grand Slam.

“If I’m able to win the U.S. Open and complete the career Grand Slam, I think that that’s a sign of the complete great player,” he said. “If I were able to ever win a U.S. Open, and I’m very hopeful that I will, but it has been elusive for me. And yet this championship has been much harder for me to get.”

With that he was off into the gloomy East Lothian night. There are still major mountains to be climbed.

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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.