Tag:phil mickelson
Posted on: March 8, 2012 11:08 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 12:03 pm
 

What would a win mean for each of these players?

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood pose in China. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

The WGC-Cadillac Championship kicks off this Thursday, and all top-50 players are in the field for the stacked event. And while all of the guys in the field have a chance, we decided to give you an idea of what a win would mean for some of the bigger names in the field. 

Rory McIlroy (World Ranking: 1) -- A win would really cement all those “next Tiger” stories, and show that while he’s happy to win events like Honda Classic, he isn’t exactly content with one win early in his season. Rory probably has the most pressure this week because he has to back up a big performance at the Honda, and if he can pull a victory out at Doral, it would really show his internal fortitude. 

Luke Donald (WR: 2) -- Lost in all this McIlroy-Woods chatter, we must remember that Donald was the No. 1 player in the world before Rory took it from him, and still has tons of game. A win by Donald would show that he’s tougher than we think, and is really ready to fight against the best for big wins. 

Lee Westwood (WR: 3) -- Talk about lost in the shuffle, Westwood closed with a final round 63 at the Honda Classic, but barely anybody remembered it because of Tiger’s 62. He has barely won anything on American soil, but his game is sharp, and if he won it would mean that he is finally ready to claim victory at events with all the big names in them.

Phil Mickelson (WR: 12) -- You never know what you’re going to get from Lefty these days, but his win at Pebble Beach showed he is still hungry to win, and a victory at Doral this week would show that 2012 might be another year that Mickelson goes wild. He’s the type of player that can still win four or five events a season, and if he won at the Blue Monster, we’d all have to put him first on our Masters prediction lists.

Tiger Woods (WR: 16) --  A win for Tiger? It would mean everything. He could stop answering questions about how close he is. He could finally get a real tournament monkey off his back (unlike the small field at the Chevron). He would show that he can play well back-to-back weeks and would tell the rest of the golfing world that he isn’t exactly ready to hand over the game to the younger generation. 

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 4:02 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 5:26 pm
 

Yes, really: Tiger, Lefty in a Masters friendly?

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson planned to play a round at Augusta earlier this week but Woods backed out at the last moment. Mickelson joked that Woods was intimidated. (Getty)

By Steve Elling

DORAL, Fla. -- Guess they'll have to settle for their battle three weeks ago at Pebble Beach.

Though it sounds hard to believe, when Phil Mickelson made his annual trip up to Augusta National earlier this week for some Masters recon, he spent his practice time solely with new running mates Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley.

That's because Tiger Woods was a no-show.

Mickelson said Wednesday at the Cadillac Championship that two marquee players had planned to play together, but it fell through.

"I guess it was the intimidation," Mickelson cracked.

Playing in the same group as Woods three weeks ago at the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, Mickelson came from six shots back in the final round, shooting 64 to win. He beat Woods by 11 strokes that day.

In fact, Mickelson was full of whistling one-liners about Woods on Wednesday. When he was asked about the 8-under 62 that Woods shot last Sunday in the final round of the Honda Classic to nearly come from behind to win, Mickelson was in prime form.

"Obviously, [Tiger] was paying attention a couple of weeks ago, which is nice to see," he said, causing laughs from many in the room.

Some in the room clearly didn’t get the reference to Pebble Beach.

"At least I thought it was funny," Mickelson said, making a hand motion above his head. "Whoosh."

Publicists for both players said after Mickelson's press conference at Doral Golf Resort & Spa that they had no personal knowledge of any plans for the two to play together at Augusta National.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:18 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 6:00 pm
 

Woods heading back to familiar haunts -- Bay Hill

By Steve Elling 

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- With these two in the field, it won’t matter much that many of the top internationals aren't heading to Orlando in two weeks.

Tiger Woods announced Monday that he will play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational later this month, joining another popular past champion, Phil Mickelson, in the event hosted by the legendary golfer and tournament namesake.

Woods has titles at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009. He was T24 last year and won the first of his three consecutive U.S. Junior titles there.

It's a busy stretch for the former world No. 1, now ranked 16th globally. He will have played four times in six weeks by the end of the Masters in April.

Mickelson posted on his website last week that he was playing at Bay Hill, where he won in 1997. The tournament starts March 22.

Though it won't be formally announced until Wednesday, Woods will play in Orlando's Tavistock Cup on March 19-20 at Lake Nona, representing the six-man team from Albany, a course in the Bahamas. There are four six-man teams in the event and the full rosters will be released Wednesday.

Rory McIlroy, the newly minted world No. 1, is taking three weeks off after competing this week at the Cadillac Championship outside Miami, where Woods and Mickelson also are entered. Several other top international players instead are playing the week after Bay Hill, in Houston, as a tune-up to the Masters, including Lee Westwood.

Woods and Mickelson were paired in the final round at Pebble Beach last month, where Mickelson shot 64 to come from six strokes back to win.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:21 pm
 

Honda cherry on top of great start to '12 season

Tiger Woods reacts to his eagle on the 18th green at the Honda Classic. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

The 2012 PGA Tour season has been absolutely nutty good, and we haven’t even had the first major yet. But how good? Check out some of the finishes we’ve had in just 10 events.

  • Farmers Insurance Open: Maybe not exactly the way you’d want to win, but the Kyle Stanley collapse at Torrey Pines is definitely a moment you won’t soon forget, and gave us our first “Is this really happening” moment of 2012. Brandt Snedeker’s reaction and eventual win will be forgotten here much like Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie, but is paved the way for collapses early in the season.
  • Waste Management Open: This one was great for so many reasons. You had Stanley bouncing back to win a week after the collapse you read about above. You had Spencer Levin leading by six shots heading into the final round and by seven shots after his first hole on Sunday only to fall apart. Oh, and you had the biggest crowd in the history of the TPC Scottsdale event. 
  • AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Probably the one you’ll remember out of all the ’12 events so far, with Phil Mickelson coming back against Tiger Woods with that sizzling 64. 
  • Northern Trust Open: Just the fourth tournament in a row that had scream-at-your-TV moments. Bill Haas was the eventual winner, but the birdie putts Mickelson and Keegan Bradley made back-to-back to join Haas in the playoff were so incredible it made this guy do whatever the heck that is.
  • Mayakoba Golf Classic: It went up against the Accenture so not as many people noticed, but a rookie named John Huh won in an eight hole playoff. 
  • The Honda Classic: You already know, but Tiger posting a 62 on Sunday was only the second coolest thing that happened just behind Rory McIlroy simultaneously winning his first PGA Tour event of the year and becoming world number one for the first time in his young career. 
Check out the new Eye on Golf Facebook page and follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter. 
Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:09 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 1:17 pm
 

Does golf need more match play events?



By Shane Bacon


Admit it, you love match play. Absolutely love it. It takes golf to another level. Instead of playing the usual format (you versus everyone else including the golf course) you are HEAD-to-HEAD against one guy, loser jumps on the phone with their travel agent.

It used to decide one of the majors, is the format to the best in both men’s and women’s golf (Ryder and Solheim Cups) and is what us regular folks play everyday when competing against friends on the links.

So, why in the world is it only once a year?

I know the reason why we only see it in one big event each season. Match play is feast or famine for networks, because if Tiger Woods plays Phil Mickelson in the finals, and all the matches before that, eyes will be glued to the television. If the finals are Ian Poulter and Paul Casey (like in 2010), it will be me, Elling and Nick Faldo watching on Sunday. 

But just once could we forget about the money and viewers and advertisers and all that and just make match play more relevant? It’s a beautiful format that changes the way professional golfers play the game. It brings in a whole new edge to the golf world, and as we’ve seen in the past, some are good at it, and some aren’t (Good? Geoff Ogilvy, Poulter, Tiger, and Casey. Bad? Vijay Singh, Vijay Singh and Vijay Singh). 

If your opponent hits his drive into a Jumping Cholla, you can hit iron off the tee and let him battle with the cacti. If your opponent drives the green, you are most definitely pulling out the big dog to try and answer his feat. Putts are just as much about strategy as they are about the line, and the whole goal is to win that shot, that hole, and honors. 

It gives golf an almost tennis feel. Rafeal Nadal talks in his book about just the point he’s in, and how neither the point before or the point after matters. That’s very similar in match play. Sure, when you play stroke play the shot you’re playing is the only thing you have control over, but it’s your whole round that matters. In this format, you can play the entire hole backwards in your mind, figure out exactly what you plan on doing, and execute it that way in hopes your opponent won’t have the same game plan.

Match play is beautiful, simple and exciting. It mixes golf with the shootout of hockey, the overtime of the NFL and buzzer beaters in basketball. It makes us think of March Madness (the best sports time of the entire year) and has a side comedy factor that one minute some millionaire golfer is out playing to win, and the next he’s figuring out how to get out of the rental agreement on his mansion in the foothills of Dove Mountain. 

I just wish we had it more than once a year. I wish the PGA Championship still went with this format because I think one major should be decided by match play, but I guess for now, enjoying the week and being excited about all the outcomes is the way to go. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter. 
Posted on: February 20, 2012 3:29 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 11:38 am
 

The winner of the week was really this guy

By Shane Bacon

Yes, Bill Haas won an incredible playoff this weekend, and yes, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley both deserve recognition for some remarkable putts they made to force the sudden death holes, but the real winner was this guy in this video.

No, not Phil, the guy in the white shirt that had a near panic attack when Mickelson's 30-foot birdie on the 72nd hole found the bottom of the cup. Seriously, just watch and be amazed. I have no idea who he is, but he is definitely in the running for golf's 2012 meme.  

 

Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:24 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 11:38 am
 

MMSC: Examining the weekend in golf

Phil Mickelson celebrates his birdie on the 18th hole this past weekend with Keegan Bradley. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon 

Golf is probably the hardest sport in the world to play, and play well, so it makes total sense that everyone is a critic, and that’s what we’re going to do here at Monday Morning Swing Coach. Cover just the PGA Tour? Nope. We're going to try to expand this Monday feature to anything and everything that happened the past weekend. 

Who needed Sunday’s playoff win the most?

Sunday at Riviera, the 2012 PGA Tour season continued its incredible start by pitting three big names in a playoff most thought wouldn’t happen after second shots from the final group found the 72nd green. 

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley brought major-like intensity when they both drained improbable putts to force a playoff against already-clubhoused Bill Haas, the eventual winner when he cashed a similar crazy birdie putt on the second playoff hole. 

So we know Haas won, Mickelson and Bradley lost, but looking back, who needed the win more? 

Why not start with the champion. Haas is one of those quiet players you just know is good. No matter if at times he gets down on his own game, we’ve seen him pull off shots in his last two wins that could make a career, and any son of a PGA Tour star always has that monkey on his back to beat the legacy of his dad. 

Haas needed the win because he keeps winning. This is his third consecutive  year with a PGA Tour title, and he did it quietly against the hottest golfer to date (yes, that would be Mickelson, who ran away with Pebble and looked like he’d go back-to-back if not for some shaky putting to end his Sunday round) and a young guy who just doesn’t seem like he will be a flash in the pan. 

I think Haas needed to win that just to show people that he is damn good. Like, "One of the Best Players on Tour" good. He can and most likely will win a major. He could win three times a season and you wouldn’t be shocked. He showed Sunday that no matter the competition, if he sticks to his game, things turn out well.

Now we turn our focus to Phil. It was a strange week for Mickelson. He started out hot. Needed some eagle magic to keep his charge at back-to-back wins going, and decided at the most critical time in the tournament to forget the speed of the quick Riviera greens (three putts on No. 14 and 15 and a birdie putt on 17 that was dead center but a roll short). 

Mickelson doesn’t really need any more regular-season PGA Tour wins. If he wins, awesome. Free fuel for the 'copter. More sunglasses for the wife. More ridiculous animal-skinned belts to loop around his belly. I think Phil exits these tournaments either happy or sad, and winning isn’t exactly what does that for him. 

His reaction when Bradley matched his birdie on the final hole of regulation shows why he has so many fans. He was so pumped up when he dropped his 30-footer (honestly, the most excited he has ever been on a golf course? I think the walking fist pump was more exclamatory than his horizontal jump at the Masters), but to go over and high-five Bradley after his answered? That was great stuff. For Phil, the only thing that is going to get his legacy deeper is majors, but it would have been fun to see him go back-to-back. That said, he is still in great shape to be the favorite at Augusta, and should be if he continues this. 

No, the answer to my question is Bradley. Yes, he has two PGA Tour wins and yes, one of those was a major, but I think if he would have pulled out this win on Sunday, against one of his idols and a really talented player in a tough playoff, it would have meant more to him than winning the PGA Championship. Yes, you can re-read that, it’s true. 

Winning the PGA was career-making. He will forever be a major winner. He gutted out some birdies when it counted. But I bet it takes you at least 15 seconds to think about who he beat in that playoff (got it yet? It was Jason Dufner, and that was just six months ago). 

If Bradley’s putt on the first playoff hole had just a little less speed, we’d be sitting here talking about a guy that has three wins in under a year and has been on tour for just 13 months. The kid is for real, and a win there would have been enormous for him going forward not just in 2012, but in the coming years after that. 

Now, about all the other Bradley stuff ...

The dancing and spitting has to stop 

I know that slow play has been a huge issue the last few years on the PGA Tour. During final rounds, Twitter is basically one big complaint about the pace of play by just about every golf writer out there (which, by the way, just makes complaining about it as annoying as the actual snail pace these guys go about it). 

But Bradley’s little diddy he does before shots, and the spitting routine he has adopted, is really getting under people’s skin, and for good reason. 

No, I’m not going to sit here and preach about it being a gentleman’s game. Golf is a little different and still old school and that’s why I think certain companies aimed at making it younger aren’t ever going to work out (the golf money is older), but you can’t take 17 practice swings before a shot and expect to get away with it. 

Bradley is going to get the Sergio treatment soon if he keeps this up, and it has been going on for a WHILE now. He steps up ... stops ... realigns ... goes at the ball ... stops ... resets. It’s agonizing to watch as a golf fan, just a step lower than when you watched Jean Van de Velde start taking his shoes off at the 1999 British Open. 

The preshot routine needs to quiet down, but the spitting needs to go away now. It’s unnecessary and makes him look like an immature kid.

Yani, Yani, Yani

I’m going to drop in Tweets of the Week here at MMSC when I see fit, and I think this one from LPGA’s Jane Park says it all ...

Tseng is a machine, and how do you know she’s a machine? Because she has reevaluated how she approaches the media after a year SHE WON 12 TOURNAMENTS WORLDWIDE! If I ever had 20 percent of that season I’d probably wear the same underwear to every tournament and she has figured out some ways to improve? Incredible.

Her win this week against a talented field shows that, and we should expect much of the same for the rest of 2012. Don’t be shocked if she gets to 12 fairly late in the summer and piles on. We have seen women’s golf dominated before by big names. I’m starting to think this could be the one that eclipses all those before. 

And what I did this weekend ... 

I was in New Zealand this weekend caddying for a friend of mine playing in the New Zealand Open, and while she played great considering she’s coming back from a year off the tour because of a thumb surgery, it was our house guest that got me the most nervous. 

Alison Walshe, a friend who played at the same college I attended, stayed with us and the entire week was a social experiment for me. It was the first time I could SEE in a person that they expected to succeed. All week she just looked like she had the thing in the bag, and this is coming from a girl that has never won on the Ladies European Tour or LPGA. 

She played well the first round. Tied for the lead the second, and as we were finishing up our round on the front nine, Walshe was coming down 18 needing a birdie to possibly force a playoff (the eventual winner was in the fairway behind her, needing a birdie to get to 10-under and win outright). 

I write about this because I finally get the nerves you see with tour wives and families when they’re watching their loved one with a putt to win. One of the other caddies actually remarked about my pacing and fidgeting because I was so nervous for my friend, who hit an absolutely incredible chip (think Mickelson’s second shot on the second playoff hole, only if the grass was muddy) to six feet and then rolled in the birdie putt to put herself in a position to get into a playoff.

Sure, Lindsey Wright made a lengthy birdie putt a few minutes later for the victory, but it was exciting and a new experience to see someone you know and care about go through the clutch motions and come out successful. I’m confident now you’ll see Walshe holding a trophy before the year is over. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Steve Elling on Twitter.

Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:47 am
Edited on: February 14, 2012 9:48 am
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