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Perfect timing for Phil's resurgence at Dell

By Rex HoggardSeptember 2, 2017, 7:28 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Tim Mickelson waited patiently while Jon Rahm, who Mickelson represents, answered a parade of questions following a second-round 66 at TPC Boston that moved the Spaniard into the lead at the second postseason stop.

But player-manager is Mickelson’s day job. He’s been moonlighting as his brother’s caddie the last few months and Caddie Mickelson hasn’t had a lot of post-round work to do this season, as Player Mickelson has eschewed practice sessions after playing.

It’s not as though Phil Mickelson hasn’t had the desire to work on his game after rounds in recent months, it’s just that the energy and focus hasn’t been there to make the extracurricular activity worthwhile.

“I'm going to go practice when we're done. I haven't done that in a while because I've been so tired after the round, and I just feel a lot better,” Lefty said following a second-round 67 moved him into the hunt at the Dell Technologies Championship.

All of which meant Rahm’s press conference was just the beginning of Caddie Mickelson’s day. “Heading to the range in about 20 minutes,” he smiled.

Although Mickelson declined to give specifics, he explained following Friday’s first round that he’s been struggling with his focus and energy for the last six or eight months, a concern that led him to see a doctor who devised a treatment program that Lefty said has made a big difference, as evidenced by his play this week.

Mickelson hasn’t opened a tournament with back-to-back under-par rounds since early June and he said the biggest difference is with his short game and shots like the one he hit on the 18th hole when he scrambled from a collection area with a vintage pitch to 2 feet for a closing birdie.

“That's exactly what I'm talking about,” Mickelson said of his shot at the 18th hole. “I haven't been able to see how I want the ball to come off while I'm hitting it. When I'm looking at the ball, I usually have a mental picture of the shot and visualizing the shot, and then my body kind of reacts to that; creates that shot. I haven't been doing that. I've just been blindly hitting the shot.”

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Current FedExCup Playoff points standings

The timing couldn’t be better, not just for Mickelson but for U.S. Presidents Cup captain Steve Stricker, who will make his picks for this year’s team following Monday’s final round.

Last month, Stricker offered Mickelson a bit of motivation at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, “you’ve got to show me a little bit more than what you’ve shown lately,” he told the southpaw in what was an admittedly awkward moment for the normally reserved American captain.

But Mickelson, who has played on every U.S. Presidents Cup team and hasn’t missed a team event since 1994, understood.

“[Stricker] needs to do what's best for the team,” Mickelson said. “He needs to get the best guys on the team. These are fun events but they are also important and we want to win, and as a captain, it's his job, responsibility, to make the tough decisions and do what's in the best interests of the team and I support that either way.”

Although a solid week at TPC Boston would certainly make Stricker’s Tuesday a little less stressful, it’s hard to imagine Mickelson being left off the U.S. team.

In recent matches he’s taken on the role of team room leader, pairing with rookies like Anthony Kim and Keegan Bradley with great success and generally being, well, Phil.

“If you've got an option to have him around on or off the team, it would be a benefit,” said Lucas Glover, who played on the 2007 and ’09 Presidents Cup teams with Mickelson. “Just the competitiveness, the humor, the passive-aggressive, just, I want to beat everybody. And you feed off that. Just great for a team.”

Although Mickelson is currently 18th on the U.S. points list (the top 10 automatically qualify), there’s not exactly a list of players making more compelling arguments to be a pick. No. 15 on that list is Brandt Snedeker, who shut it down for the season with a sternum joint injury, and No. 17 Ryan Moore, who withdrew from the second playoff stop on Friday following an opening 82.

Last week on Long Island, Stricker indicated Kevin Chappell, 11th on the points list, has played well enough all season to deserve a pick if he doesn’t move into the top 10; which means there’s a scenario where the final pick could come down to No. 12 Brian Harman, 13 Jason Dufner, 14 Gary Woodland and 16 Brendan Steele.

Oh, and Mickelson, who seems to have found some 11th-hour form and brings an unquantifiable level of leadership to a team that already includes five Presidents Cup rookies (six if Chappell makes the team).

“I would love to be the one he felt added to the team but if I'm not, he's got to make that tough call. I totally understand it,” Mickelson said. “I've had a tough time for awhile. But these two rounds, although they have been great, I don't know if that's enough or not.”

Mickelson’s start at the Dell Technologies Championship may not be enough to ease Stricker’s busy mind, but two more days of focus and energy would certainly help.

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.

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Chappell returns to Valero as defending champ

By Will GrayApril 18, 2018, 9:48 pm

It's impossible for any of the players at this week's Valero Texas Open to forget who captured the trophy last year.

That's because most players stay at the JW Marriott hotel that's a short walk from the first tee at TPC San Antonio, and the defending champion's face is emblazoned on the hotel's room keys. This week, that honor belongs to Kevin Chappell.

"You get some sly comments from players about their room key," Chappell told reporters Wednesday. "'Oh, I'm tired of looking at you.' And I'm saying, 'Believe me, I'm tired of being in everyone's room.'"

The position of defending champ is one Chappell relishes this week as he returns to the site of his maiden PGA Tour victory. A one-shot win over Brooks Koepka led to a euphoric celebration on the 72nd green, and it helped propel Chappell to his first career spot on the Presidents Cup team in October.

Chappell has missed the cut each of the last two weeks, including the Masters, but he also recorded top-10 finishes at the CareerBuilder Challenge, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Arnold Palmer Invitational. It's reason enough for Chappell to feel optimistic heading back to a course where he was a runner-up in 2011 and finished T-4 in 2016.

"This year's been a little bit of a strange year for me. I usually don't find form until about here, usually a slow starter," Chappell said. "But having three top-10s before this event, I've kind of found some form. I'm looking to turn those top-10s into top-5s, and the top-5s into wins. That's the challenge moving forward this year."