Mickelson unhappy, staying positive after first round

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2013, 1:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Phil Mickelson’s season debut was destined to be a strange one. Ambling onto the range Thursday morning at La Quinta Country Club, he greeted tournament officials, loosened up with a few swings and threw down a bucket of balls not next to Pat Perez, Tim Clark or Charles Howell III. No, he saddled up right next to Craig T. Nelson.

They small-talked for 20 minutes, lashing balls into the morning sun, and Mickelson eventually invited the 68-year-old actor not just to dinner but perhaps a golf game in L.A. next month. “I’ll get your number,” Mickelson told him, and Nelson practically floated to the first tee.

That unlikely union is part of the unique charm of this event, but the Humana Challenge is no place for an ailing golfer, what with the myriad distractions, excruciatingly long rounds, cold-topped tee shots, shanked irons and yippy putting. To survive these rounds, a pro may feel compelled to reach for something stronger than flu medication.

But Mickelson on Thursday seemed to thoroughly enjoy the intimate experience, if not his uneven play. He grinned his way through a five-hour, 21-minute round, regaling his pro-am partners with lively stories, dazzling with his short-game wizardry, confounding with mental blunders and, through it all, providing an endless stream of commentary that showed the left-hander is in good spirits (if not perfect health) entering his 22nd year as a pro.  

“I was really anxious to get back (on Tour),” Mickelson said, even if his body wasn’t ready to cooperate. Last week he came down with a nasty case of the flu, and he didn’t arrive in the desert until Wednesday. Now about “95 percent” healthy, the only lingering signs of illness Thursday were a leaky nose and nasally voice, and Mickelson downplayed the effects after his round, saying, “It wasn’t anything life-threatening.”

More so than his health, however, Mickelson’s main concern now is making sure he’s around Sunday. His opening-round, even-par 72 in ideal conditions at La Quinta left him nine shots back and frustrated that his offseason work didn’t translate in his first official round of 2013.

“I know it’s there,” Mickelson said, “even though the results today were not good.”

After a pedestrian opening nine, Mickelson’ back side featured a few shots that won’t show up on the box score. On 10, he lined up on the right-hand side of the tee box and smashed a drive that cut off the right-to-left dogleg. Alas, it also brought into play the out of bounds down the left. Mickelson watched helplessly as his ball caught a tree and caromed off the cart path.

“Are you kidding me,” Mickelson hissed, and asked his caddie, Jim Mackay, for a reload.

When he arrived at his first ball, Mickelson quickly surveyed the situation – O.B. by a foot, near an artificial rock patch and a resident’s patio furniture – and angrily snatched up the ball and flipped it to Bones. After his fourth shot sailed long, Mickelson needed to make a 6-footer just to save double bogey – the same score he made there last year, during an opening 74 en route to a T-49 finish.

“That hole,” he said, “is just my nemesis.”

On the 12th tee, Mickelson pounded a 5-Hour Energy and then made one of his worst swings of the day, his ball sailing weakly to the left, behind the gallery. Of course, being 15 yards left of the green and behind two overhanging trees also afforded Mickelson an opportunity to show off his otherworldly short game, and he didn’t disappoint. He opened the blade of his 60-degree wedge and swung hard, the ball sailing above the trees, nicking nary a leaf, and dropping delicately on the edge of the green. The ball nestled to within 3 feet of the cup. Lefty grinned.

“You hit it there as much as I do, eventually you’re going to learn how to hit those shots,” he woofed.

Even more creative, perhaps, was how he handled his second shot on the 13th, after his tee shot sailed right, into the trees. His only option was to start the ball down the 14th fairway with a 5-wood and play a slinging slice.

Erik Compton, walking up the 14th, called out to Mickelson: “You got a shot?” 

Lefty shrugged. Then he smirked.

Of course he did.

Mickelson found the left side of the green, about 40 feet away for eagle. (Summing up his day, he three-jacked from there and settled for a momentum-killing par.)

On 15, he yanked his tee shot right, into the gallery, and hit a spectator in the groin. But once again, Mickelson recovered with a spectacular flop shot off a tight lie that helped him salvage par.

“I was able to shake out an even-par round today,” he said. “As bad as that is, I’ve got a low round in me tomorrow, and I don’t feel like it’s far off.”

Of course, only low rounds will suffice on Friday and Saturday if he wants to extend his stay in the desert. Sixteen players shot 65 or better on Day 1, and Mickelson sits at T-122 heading into Friday’s round on the Nicklaus Course, the easiest course in the rotation. 

“That,” Mickelson said, “was certainly not what I was expecting.” 

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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''