Top Newsmakers No 5 Phil Mickelson

By Rex HoggardDecember 22, 2010, 6:48 pm

Top 10 Newsmakers

For golf’s perennial marquee, the start of 2010 was a study in contrasts. For Tiger Woods, shaken by tales of infidelity and an uncertain competitive future, the New Year was an enigma. For Phil Mickelson, fresh from what may have been the best fall of his career, the possibilities were endless.

Mickelson closed 2009 with three consecutive “Ws” at the Tour Championship, where he outdueled Woods down the stretch, the Presidents Cup, where he continued to expand his role as American mentor, and the WGC-HSBC Champions, were he started the final round in China with a two-stroke lead over Woods and finished five clear.

At no time was that divergent existence so acute than at Torrey Pines, where Lefty began his 2010 campaign with a wave of his hand and a 20-minute “clearing of the air,” addressing everything from his schedule to non-conforming-but-legal grooves to Woods, of all people.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson earned his third green jacket in 2010. (Getty Images)
In many ways Mickelson’s debut promised to bring order to the post-Nov. 27 chaos. What followed was neither on-script nor inspired.

His San Diego season-opener was marred by a very public and very messy row with Scott McCarron over Mickelson’s use of grandfathered Ping wedges. McCarron suggested Lefty’s use of the old Ping wedges was akin to “cheating.”

Shortly afterward when the Tour closed the loophole for the grandfathered wedges Mickelson was vindicated, yet as the Tour made the turn for Augusta National and the year’s first major Lefty looked anything but vintage.

In seven events leading to the Masters he had just a single top-10 finish (T-8 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am). He opened with 67 at Augusta National, roared within one shot of the lead on Saturday with back-to-back eagles at Nos. 13 and 14 and secured his second green jacket with one of the greatest shots at an event that enjoys an embarrassment of heroic history.

From the pine needles right of the 13th fairway Mickelson threaded a 6-iron from 207 yards, between two trees and over a creek to 4 feet for a two-putt birdie.

“I tried to talk him out of it, he said, ‘No.’ I went at him again, he said, ‘Definitely no,’” Mickelson’s caddie Jim Mackay laughed. “That’s Phil, he simplifies things. Give me the club and get out of the way.”

Waiting for Mickelson behind the storied scoring hut was his wife, Amy, noticeably absent from Tour for months while she battled breast cancer. The Sunday snapshot of the two emerging from Butler Cabin was a much-anticipated boost for a game battered by scandal and a secluded headliner.

The celebration, however, was short lived.

Mickelson finished a distant runner-up to Rory McIlroy at Quail Hollow and was derailed by weekend rounds of 73 at Pebble Beach. It was three months before his next top-10 finish (T-8 at the BMW Championship).

But the results were the “what.” On Aug. 10 the golf world learned the “why.”

On the eve of the PGA Championship Mickelson revealed that he had been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, a rare condition that forced him to Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic for treatment. Although Mickelson refused to use the condition as an excuse for his poor play, sources within his camp have indicated it was worse than he let onto and his play to close the season certainly backed that up.

For the first time since 2003 Mickelson failed to win multiple Tour events and his play at October’s Ryder Cup (1-3-0) looked more like the old Phil than the new team leader who had emerged in recent matches.

He also stunned observers at the PGA with news he had become a vegetarian. “I know, this is crazy. I know,” he said at the time.

But as Mickelson prepared for an extended offseason – he plans to begin his 2011 season the third week of January at the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Championship – his largely pedestrian play drifted into the foreground of his emotional Masters victory and improving health for himself and his family.

“The last 16 months has been an interesting 16 months. As a family we've been through a lot. And the Masters kind of made the year for me,” Mickelson said.


For the remainder of the year, is counting down the Top 10 Newsmakers of 2010. For a list of the complete top 10 and the scheduled release dates, click here.

“It meant a lot to us emotionally, it meant a lot to me personally. And I look back at the year, and it really comes down to that one event. For me the year was kind of salvaged by that Masters win. That's how much that tournament means to me.”

Mickelson was also encouraged by his improved putting, the byproduct of his ongoing work with Dave Stockton Sr., although his putting average (45th on Tour, 1.762) was the highest it’s been since 1998 (80th, 1.782).

“I feel like this year has been the first year in a while, in a few years, that I've had some good direction on the greens. And it's progressively gotten better,” Mickelson said. “It’s been a slower progression into consistency on the greens, and after a year of spending time with him, I feel like it's continuing to improve.”

The man who began 2010 riding a wave of confidence born from stellar play will start 2011 with a different kind enthusiasm, the kind that comes from peace of mind and improving health.

“We're in a much better place, and I'm excited about that,” Mickelson said.

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, for the third time in the past four years, the final outcome came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama on Wednesday when junior Haley Moore defeated senior Lakareber Abe on the 19th hole.

The Wildcats also won NCAA titles in 1996 and 2000, the later when current Arizona coach Laura Ianello was on the team as a player.

“Arizona is my home, it is where I went to school and it needs to be back home,” Ianello said. “So I am so proud to be the coach to bring it back.”

Two days ago, Arizona was in the midst of an epic collapse. They were safely in the third position after 54 holes of stroke play and needed to only be inside the top-eight after 72 holes to advance to the match play portion of the event.

But they played the worst round of the day and were on the outside looking in with one hole remaining when junior Bianca Pagdanganan made eagle on the par-5 18th hole. That propelled the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor that they ultimately won.

On the first day of match play, Arizona continued to ride the wave of momentum by defeating Pac-12 rivals UCLA, the top seed, and Stanford, a match play stalwart the past three years.

Next up for Arizona was Alabama, the top-ranked team in the country and the second seed this week after stroke play.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said, attempting to take pressure off her team, which, on paper, looked like an underdog.

But you know the saying, anything can happen in match play, and often does.

Alabama coach Mic Potter put out his three first-team All-Americans in the first three spots hoping to jump out to an early lead. Junior Lauren Stephenson played poorly in the opening match and lost, 4 and 3, to freshman Yu-Sang Hou.

Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight dispatched of Wildcats Gigi Stoll and Pagdanganan easily in the second and third matches.

Arizona’s Sandra Nordaas beat Angelica Moresco, 1 up, in the fourth match meaning the fifth and final match behind, which was all square after 16 holes, was going to be the one to decide the NCAA title.

Lakareber lost the 17th hole when her approach shot sailed well short and right of the green in thick, thick rough. She attempted to advance the ball but could not and headed to the final hole 1 down.

With seemingly every golf fan in Stillwater on site, including several men’s teams here to participate in next week’s championship, Abe hit a laser second shot into the par-5 18th hole setting up a 12-foot look for eagle. Moore failed to put pressure on Abe and Abe won the hole to set up extra holes to decide the championship.

In the extra frame, Moore was left of the green in two shots and Abe was short in the greenside bunker. Moore chipped to 4 feet and Abe’s bunker shot was 6 feet away. Abe missed, Moore made and Arizona walked away with the hardware.

“It means so much, it’s actually like a dream,” Moore said. “I’m just so happy for my team right now.”

Potter has been a head coach for 35 years – at both Furman and Alabama – and finally was able to collect his first NCAA Championship in 2012. Being so close to a second one will sting for quite awhile but he will be able to live with the outcome for one simple reason.

“They fought their hearts out all year,” Potter said. “I just want to congratulate them for the way they battled, not only today, but in match play. Everyone gave their best on every shot, that’s all we can ask.”

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''