Mickelson optimistic despite post-Open struggles

By Ryan LavnerJuly 14, 2014, 6:00 pm

HOYLAKE, England – For years, Phil Mickelson would arrive at the Open Championship and wonder.

Early on, he wondered if his soaring ball flight and aggressive style would translate to success.

After a few lean years, he wondered if he’d ever play well overseas.

Sometimes, he wondered what the heck he was even doing there, knowing full well that he didn’t have the requisite skills to conquer the most unique test in championship golf.

There’s a different feeling now.

Mickelson knows that he can perform – he did it last year, in back-to-back weeks, and in spectacular fashion, complete with one of the best rounds of his life.

“It takes a lot of pressure off me,” he said Monday here at Royal Liverpool, where he hopes the memories of the most unexpected trophy of his career will help jumpstart a listless year.

Mickelson has just one top-10 worldwide since last September (a span of 20 starts), though he’s shown signs of progress recently, with two T-11 finishes in his last three starts, including last week at the Scottish Open. But not even the ever-optimistic left-hander could put a positive spin on this campaign.

“It obviously hasn’t been a good year,” he said.



That his fortunes could change here seemed unthinkable only a few years ago. The 2013 Open was the most satisfying victory of Mickelson’s long career, something he said at Muirfield and reiterated now, because it was a win he never thought he could achieve. Doing so required a complete overhaul of his swing-from-the-heels game, and over the years Mickelson, for good reason, had been resistant to change – after all, you don’t win 42 times on the PGA Tour by accident.

His breakthrough, though, came in December 2003, when he worked with short-game guru Dave Pelz and learned how to hit wedge shots without spin, how to hit them with the proper ball flight and distance. After years of futility, he had come to understand that this skill was the key to links golf – the harder the swing, the more spin it creates, and the more the wind affects the ball. Now, he takes more club, swings easier and feels as though he is bunting a half shot.

“I’m not fighting it,” he said.

This entire season has been a battle of tug of war, however, and oftentimes he has come out on the losing end.

Mickelson says he’s driving the ball better and more confidently than he ever has, but he ranks 143rd on the PGA Tour in total driving – right around where he has been over the past several years.

He admits that it has not been a good putting year, not by any means, but he is hopeful that his recent work with Dave Stockton will mean more consistent week-in, week-out results on the greens. Maybe so, but the fact remains: He was sixth in putting in 2013. He ranks 133rd this season.

“Normally I would be discouraged or frustrated, but I’m just not,” he said. “I feel like I’ve had some good breakthroughs in some areas. I haven’t had the results; I know I haven’t played well. But the parts feel a lot better than the whole right now.”

He doesn’t know when it will come together – it could be this week, this month, this year – but “it should be soon.”

Mickelson, who turned 44 last month, continues to take the long view. He says that he believes that the next few years will be some of his best. He says that memories of the Open “almost motivate me to work harder and play more, practice even more, because I know there’s a finite amount of time (remaining).”

But if he’s extra-motivated in 2014, then this has to be his most maddening campaign yet. A year after another demoralizing runner-up at the U.S. Open, he geared his entire season toward peaking at Pinehurst. A few early-season injuries set him back, and sloppy play with his driving, wedge game and putting – he’s outside the top 100 in all three statistical categories – kept him from getting into contention before the year’s second major. Not even being back at Pinehurst, where all of his U.S. Open heartbreak began 15 years ago, was enough to resurrect his game. He finished joint 28th.

Nothing can change that result now, and a few weeks ago Mickelson spotted a re-run of the 2013 Open on Golf Channel. He DVR’d the highlights package and has watched it, he said, whenever he needed “a little bit of a confidence boost.”

Well, cue up the footage, because he needs one now, his game stagnating, his world ranking tumbling, his Ryder Cup spot in jeopardy. Fifty-two weeks after his most satisfying victory ever, Phil Mickelson arrives at this Open wondering just one thing:

Can I do it again?

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.


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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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Thirty players have drivers tested by R&A

By Tim RosaforteJuly 17, 2018, 1:00 am

Thirty players, including seven major champions, arrived at the 147th Open and received a letter from the R&A notifying them to bring their respective drivers to the equipment standards office located on Carnoustie’s practice ground by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Brooks Koepka all confirmed that their drivers all passed the COR test (coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect) administered by the R&A.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This was the first time the R&A took measures that were not part of the distance insight project being done in conjunction with the USGA.

The PGA Tour has been testing club for approximately five years but has not done random testing to this point.  The Tour’s rules department works in conjunction with manufacturers and tests clubs from manufacturer fans at tournaments on a voluntary basis. The USGA assists the PGA Tour in this process.