New York State of Mind

By Rex HoggardJune 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Phil Mickelson was born in Southern California. He sports a home with a dinosaur head and a space rock in Scottsdale and logs more flight hours in the G4 than a GM executive. But somewhere along the way from Bethpage to Winged Foot and back to Bethpage, he became New York ' like Woody Allen and graffiti.
 
Spray paint this on the side of the West Broadway local: NYC loves Lefty.
 
So imagine the show when the adopted prodigal son grinned and glad-handed his way around Bethpage Black on Wednesday, about a month removed from the type of news that changes lives and seven years removed from a championship run that changed the loyalties of an entire city.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson enjoys his practice round Wednesday at Bethpage. (Getty Images)
Or, as one fan mused midway through Wednesdays madness: Is this Wednesday or Sunday?
 
Didnt matter, at least not to the better part of two burrows who gathered in this corner of Long Island to watch Mickelson, who, by the by, didnt hit a single shot that counted. That comes Thursday when the intensity promises to climb even higher.
 
Before he headed out for his collective hug, Mickelson met with the press. Funny, this time last year we were grilling the left-hander about his no-driver experiment and a Day 1 pairing with Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines. On Wednesday most scribes were just glad to see him because that means Amy Mickelsons condition is not as bad as originally feared.
 
Amy Mickelson, the Tour staple who celebrated her husbands breakthrough victory at the 2004 Masters and his heartbreaking loss at Winged Foot in 2006 with equal grace and verve, was diagnosed with breast cancer last month and Mickelson suspended his schedule indefinitely, a dire sign for those who read tea leaves.
 
But Leftys return last week at Memphis and to the scene of his 2002 U.S. Open near miss this week was a reason to exhale. The road ahead is still daunting, but the medical mountain suddenly doesnt seem so high. And Amy, never one to let her man off without dig, had a simple request to help ease her into treatment.
 
She's left me a number of little notes, texts, cards, hints, that she would like to have a silver trophy in her hospital room, said Mickelson, who plans to be by his wifes side on July 1 when she begins treatment. So I'm going to try to accommodate that.
 
More so than anyone not named Woods, Mickelson shows up at Grand Slam events with a single purpose. Truth is he probably has no idea how many top 10s hes posted in major championships and doesnt care. This week is no different, despite the circumstances or the serenading.
 
On Wednesday Mickelson said he was confident in his game, adding that he may be hitting the ball better than he ever has. A prevailing school of thought in these parts is that time between the ropes will provide him with an escape from his wifes medical fortunes, if just for a few hours.
 
I did enjoy having a bit of a reprieve, if you will, in getting on a golf course and forcing myself to concentrate on something else, Mickelson said of his week in Memphis.
 
After his press conference Mickelson headed out into the cool morning to join Bones and Butch and what seemed like 30,000 of his closest friends and associates. If Mickelson doesnt land that coveted silver trophy ' the one he let slip through his fingers at Winged Foot and Pinehurst ' it wont be from a lack of support from the NYC faithful.
 
Its a measure of a mans popularity when his caddie pulls more applause than almost anyone else in the field. But then Mickelson roars are as much a part of Bethpage now as forced carries and public golf zealots who sleep in cars for tee times.
 
On the 13th green one fan started a curious trend, barking out: Youre a beautiful man Phil Mickelson. On the ninth green an entire gallery broke into a chorus of Happy Birthday, to celebrate Lefty turning 39 on Tuesday.
 
In between there was golf, smiles and more well-wishers than a census man could count. Exactly what Mickelson needed. An escape, where Butch Harmon was less swing coach and more counsel and Jim Bones Mackay was less caddie and more companion. Lean on me Grand Slam style.
 
Included in Wednesdays four-ball was three major champions and Darron Stiles, a curious fourth wheel who has had more than his share of personal tragedy and between-the-ropes therapy this season.
 
Stiles, who has been alongside an aunt and sister-in-law who battled breast cancer, was hardly 18 holes into his fifth year on Tour at Januarys Sony Open when his wife called to tell him his father had just passed away.
 
Stiles withdrew from the Sony, raced home and has struggled with his emotions and his game ever since.
 
I still think about my dad every day, so it definitely helps to be out here, Stiles said. I can feel what (Mickelson) is going through. Theres a lot inside thats not coming out, but from the outside hes doing real well.
 
Mickelsons ability to internalize Amys plight and focus on the most demanding four rounds in golf remains to be seen.
 
At the 1995 Masters Ben Crenshaw funneled the pain of losing longtime swing coach and friend Harvey Penick into a green jacket. However, three years ago just across Long Island at Winged Foot Tiger Woods, mentally the strongest golfer of this and maybe any generation, struggled in the wake of his father Earls passing and missed the cut. Its the only time hes missed a cut at a major as a pro. The point? It can go either way.
 
One thing is for certain, if Mickelson can compartmentalize the fire, then the fan base is in place for the most inspiring Open victory since, well, last year at Torrey Pines.
 
Midway through his round Mickelson found himself deep in a greenside sand trap at the 18th. Butchie, he smiled, tell me if this goes in.
 
Youll hear it, Harmon correctly reasoned.
 
And if Mickelson can align the proper stars and hoist silver on Sunday, theyll hear it from Montauk to Manhattan.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage -2009 U.S. Open
  • First- and Second-Round Tee Times
  • Sectional Qualifying results
  • Bethpage Black Ballpark
  • Getty Images

    Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

    By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

    INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas matched the Brickyard Crossing record with a 10-under 62 on Thursday in the Indy Women in Tech Championship, making birdie on the final three holes for a two-stroke lead over fast-starting Angel Yin and Japan's Nasa Hataoka.

    Yin birdied eight of the first nine holes in her morning round for a front-nine 8-under 28 - one short of the LPGA Tour's nine-hole record. It matched the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.


    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


    Salas eagled the par-5 second in the afternoon and added three straight birdies on Nos. 4-6. She birdied Nos. 12 and 14 before reeling off three more in a row to close, waiting out a late 77-minute suspension for an approaching storm.

    Salas matched the course record set by Mike McCullough in the PGA Tour Champions' 1999 Comfort Classic.

    Getty Images

    Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

    By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

    GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

    Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

    The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

    Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

    Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

    Getty Images

    Peterson confirms plans to play Web.com Finals

    By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

    After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals.

    Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.


    Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

    Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

    The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Web.com Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.

    Getty Images

    Lyle honored with sand sculpture at Wyndham

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 16, 2018, 9:00 pm

    Jarrod Lyle passed away last week at the age of 36 after losing his third battle with cancer.

    And after a PGA Championship filled with tributes to the Australian, the Wyndham Championship found its own way to keep his legacy alive at the North Carolina Tour stop.

    Next to the Wyndham Championship and PGA Tour logos carved into the sand on site at Sedgefield Country Club is Lyle's name and the "Leuk the Duck" mascot. The duck has become synonymous with Challenge, an organization that supports kids with cancer.

    Fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby posted the display on social media:

    View this post on Instagram

    (Pic update) Brighter is better

    A post shared by StuartAppleby (@stuartappleby59) on

    Lyle was also remembered in a more traditional manner on the first tee, where his bag and trademark yellow bucket hat were prominently displayed.