Golf Bonus Nostalgia

Phil Mickelson » PGA TOUR

Category Archives: NEWS

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  Phil Mickelson hits a tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 3, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Lost somewhat in the news that all those 20-year-old Ping Eye2 irons and wedges now see their PGA Tour days numbered is the U.S. Golf Association’s agreement to review its rulemaking process.

The USGA will hold a forum next fall to discuss being more inclusive. Kudos to executive director David Fay, equipment chief Dick Rugge and the Golf House folks.

Also to Phil Mickelson?

It was Mickelson who became the center of the groove storm when he became one of the half-dozen or so players to put a pre-April 1990 Ping Eye2 club into play. Those clubs don’t conform to the USGA’s new standard, but are grandfathered in as the result of two 1990s court settlements.

Scott McCarron singled out Mickelson in San Diego for “cheating,” Mickelson said he was a victim of “slander” and the tiff carried headlines for a week.

One week later in Los Angeles, Mickelson said the personal disagreement had been hashed out — but took a swipe at the USGA for a rulemaking process he said does not seek input from others with a stake in the game.

“This type of lack of transparency has got to change. It’s killing the sport,” Mickelson said then. “It’s killing the manufacturers [and] the players. We don’t understand the rule, and it needs to be changed.”

One month later, the door has been opened.

“Sometimes the things they recommend are pretty difficult to get done, as well as the time frames they want us to get things done in,” said Ping chairman John Solheim. “Being able to voice our opinion on that and let them understand it means a lot to us.”

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 25: Phil Mickelson hits his second  shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 25, 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Feb. 28, 2010) – A roller coaster week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open came to an abrupt end for Phil Mickelson Sunday.

Heavy overnight rain soaked the course and lift, clean and place rule was in effect. That meant the TPC Scottsdale would be playing longer but its greens would be more receptive. But he wasn’t going to win, not after a third-round 72 dropped him to 54th, nine shots off the lead.

“I thought I’d have to go 9- or 10-under to have a chance,” he said afterward, “and I just didn’t get enough done on my first nine.”

He opened with a 7-foot birdie on 10 and birdied the par-5 13th for the third time this week but he had to save par on 15 after driving in the water, and that left him at just 4-under on the two par fives that ranked 18th and 15th in difficulty for the tournament.

Mickelson then birdied 1 and 3, the other par 5 on the course, ranked 16th, where he was just 1-under in four tries. A 6-foot birdie on the short fourth hole put him a tie for 11th although the leaders and chargers were just making their way to the back nine.

Still, the fourth round was his best, most consistent of the week in all aspects, including both playing some more conservative shots and his noted escapability. He blocked the drive on 5 left in the desert, a spot with which he’s nearly as familiar with as the desert right of 13. He made it out of 13 with a right-handed shot Thursday that saved a par and a massive shot Saturday that left him with a 10-foot eagle putt he couldn’t convert.

In the final round his dive on 5 found a low spot in the native area, a hazard with nearly an inch of rainwater in it. He found a narrow window through the whispy palo verde trees, somehow got it up to the right fringe and made a 13-foot putt to save par.

A 20-footer somehow didn’t go in on No. 7 and a 8-footer stayed just high on 8, which brought him to 9. His approach from 152 yards was squarely struck but a tad low to hold the elevated green and it bounded over the back, nestling in deep overseeded rye grass. The pin was on the back and a bold shot would leave with a long comebacker from the front of the green. He needed an extra foot that he didn’t get and missed a 20-foot putt from the back fringe.

If he’d made it he would have had his first bogey-free round of the season. And he would have finished his 20th visit to the TPC Scottsdale at a cumulative 110 under par.

His four weeks of the West Coast swing were a disappointment given his expectations before the season started. But his game was rounding into shape despite Saturday’s lackluster showing in Scottsdale, and with the Masters six weeks away his figures to return with renewed focus.

Monday Mickelson is off to MD Anderson Cancer in Houston with Amy for several days, then home to prepare for his title defense in the WGC-CA Championship at Doral the week of March 8.

“I’m feeling better about a lot of things,” said Mickelson. “After this week I’ll get back to work.”

Waste Management Phoenix Open - Round Two

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Feb. 26, 2010) – After almost every round Phil Mickelson has played this year he’s said, “I’m close,” and “if I can go low tomorrow I can get into contention.”

Close, that is, to playing the way he was expecting to play when his season started four weeks and three events ago. Close to rediscovering the putting form that he used to close out the 2010 season with two convincing victories over strong fields. Close to going low. Close to getting into contention.

After Thursday’s three under par 68 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open he said it again. He meant it, he believed it, but after nine holes Friday, the back nine at the TPC Sawgrass, with its two of the course’s three par-5s, he had slipped to 2-over par and was tied for 56th, right on the projected cut line.

Somewhere between the climb up the hill from the 18th green to the clubhouse and the 75-yard walk to the left toward the first tee, Mickelson must have heard his cue, John Cleese intoning, “And now, for something completely different.”

Thursday he birdied the first two holes on the front, missed a short birdie on the par-5 third and limped home in 1-under 34 for the nine.

Friday he shot 31 and looked completely different from the guy who only once in 12 rounds this year had gone bogey-free on the inward half, let alone the guy who made two bogeys against one birdie on his front nine.

“Sometimes it’s just little adjustments you have to make,” he said. “After 16 (his seventh hole of the day) I just simplified (the putting stroke and let it go.” The putter and the driver, for that matter.

Mickelson reached the 554-yard third hole after a 342-yard drive in the fairway, his longest of the year, and birdied from 33 feet. On the short fourth he made a 19-foot birdie, his first made putt longer than 10 feet in the two rounds. After a 327-yard drive on 5 he made a 5-foot birdie.

He saved par with solid putts from 12 feet on 6, and four on 7 and then hit it to three feet for another score on 8.

When he signed for a 3-under 68 he was tied for sixth, up 50 spots in nine holes. The afternoon wave was just going out and when darkness fell Mickelson was tied for 25th, one of 38 players five shots off the lead. But the really good news, encouraging news, something completely different, was that his putting had finally caught up with his ball-striking.

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - Round Three

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2010) – They think of almost everything at Pebble Beach, from attentive service in the world class hotels to the best chocolate chip cookie on the PGA Tour, but Phil Mickelson left one of his favorite venues with no love at all.

The longest putt he made all week was from 10 feet on the 12th hole at Pebble Beach Saturday and that for a sand-save par.

The last thing he said before going to the first tee Sunday morning with K.J. Choi and his amateur partner, Hollis Craven, was, “I’m hitting it great. I’m thinking 64.”

The first thing he said when he finished a round of 71 that took nearly six hours to play was, “It’s hard to shoot 64 when you’re two-putting on every hole.”

It seemed like that, anyway. There were six 1-putts: three par saves and three birdies, the last on 18, which was enough to earn his first top-10 of the year, a share of eighth place, five shots off the lead.

For all his woes on the greens he did take away two things to look forward to when he returns from a long-delayed family vacation this week: sessions with short game aides Dave Stockton and Dave Pelz and an idea of what’s to come when the U.S. Open visits Pebble Beach in June.

“It was valuable to see the cut lines for the Open (fairways),” said Mickelson. “Especially with the way they’ve moved several holes closer to the water, I see a very defensive approach, a lot of 3-woods, hybrids, maybe irons off the tees.”

As for the par-5s, which on the pricey but public course are nearly wide enough to land jets side-by-side, the second will be a narrow strip down the middle of the existing fairway; the sixth will be moved to the right, within yards of the cliff over Carmel Bay; the dogleg-right 14th has been moved left, making it a longer drive to the short grass and the 18th will be a stripe down the middle of the current fairway, with those two signature pine trees right in the middle of it.

Sunday Mickelson hit a drive 310 yards over the bunkers in the dogleg on 14, then bombed his 3-wood 279 yards uphill and over the green. He may not find that drive in June. On 18, with a wind he’d never seen in umpteen playings of Pebble, into him on the tee, he hit it 270 in the fairway that won’t be there in June and then cranked his 3-wood to the ramp in front of the green.

Hey, it was fun while it lasted at Pebble Beach, off the tee if not on the greens. And after consulting with his consultants next weekend, Mickelson hopes the fun resumes in Scottsdale.

“I certainly expected to play better score better these last three weeks,” said Mickelson, “but they’ve given me some thing s to work on. I like the way I’m hitting it but it’s discouraging to keep hitting it 8 to 12 feet and not make anything. I’m not far off. I’m looking forward to doing a little fine-tuning with Pelz and Dave Stockton. Once I see a few start falling in I’ll be on my way.”

PGA TOUR - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - Round Three

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2010) – It was a good second round in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, very good, but the first thing Phil Mickelson said after his post-round autograph session was, “My goodness, that could have been really good.”

Caddie Jim Mackay agreed but he also called it, “One of the five weirdest rounds I’ve ever caddied.”

Mickelson retuned to Spyglass Hill Friday in need of a good round. His opening 68 left him in a share of 42nd place. But he set the tournament course record there, a 62 shot in 2005, is driving it long on the sodden courses and hitting a lot of greens.

Starting on 10, he birdied his first two par-5s, 11 and 14, made a 20-foot putt on 16, a 25-foot downhiller on 17 and a 30-footer on 18 to get to 7-under for the tournament. He also missed three putts of 10 feet or less.

Then came No. 1, the par-5 that rolls downhill and sweeps left leaving a view of the wide green framed by bunkers in front and the ocean in back, as stunning an opening hole as there is on the PGA Tour.

Mickelson has had all sorts of adventures there and another chapter was added on Friday. He blocked his drive right, toward the pines towering over underbrush and deep grass. As the group approached the supposed landing area, Bones asked the three marshals sanding in the middle of the fairway if they had the ball.

No, came the answer, but we heard it over there somewhere. After five fruitless minutes of searching, Mickelson played his provisional ball from the fairway to just off the right edge of the green. It was the second time in three rounds, going back to Sunday at Riviera, that a drive went over marshals’ heads and was declared lost.

As he addressed a long chip from the rough, one of the other caddies in the group rattled his clubs, and apparently Mickelson, and the chip came up well short, leading to a double bogey.

Thirty minutes later the caddie was still so shaken that he didn’t realize until too late that Brian Gay and his amateur partner, Joe Kernan, played each other’s balls from just off the third green, resulting in a penalty on Gay and the team.

The fifth is a par-4 that bends left toward a green that appears buried in the grass-covered dunes. Every single year, sometimes as early as the first hole, Bones suggests a layup off the tee and Mickelson insists on hitting driver. That made for a number of adventures when ice plant stretched along the left side of the fairway. This year Mickelson didn’t wait to start the debate at Spyglass. He brought it up on 18 at Riviera on Sunday.

“That pretty much told me he had his mind made up,” said Bones, although on the tee there was a lot of pointing hither and yon before Mickelson crushed a drive 300 yards to a secondary fairway in front of the green. “And what happens?” said Bones. “We’re in a divot.” Par.

Birdies on the par-3 third and par-5 7th got Mickelson back to 7-under. On the 8th he pushed his drive into the left rough. There was a tree leaning in on his right and Spanish moss dripping of another tree straight ahead. He was in a wet, cuppy lie with mud on the right side of his ball.

A minute later Bones said, “Early leader for shot of the year: 180 yards uphill from the rough, 20-yard slice with a 4-iron to 6 feet, tops.”

But again he missed a birdie putt he very well might have made, as he did on 9 when his 15-foot birdie limped left and low at the end. After two days Mickelson ranked third in driving distance, first on greens in regulation and 102nd in putting average. His next two rounds are at Pebble Beach.

It was a very good round and a very weird one that left Mickelson smiling about being just four shots off the lead but thinking about what might have been.