Tag: Phil Mickelson

The PGA Championship-Phil Mickelson

PGA Championship, Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort SC

Congrats, Phil!

Watching Phil Mickelson stroll up the 18th hole at Kiawah Island with a two-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen was almost surreal. I think many of us “Phil fanatics” kept pinching ourselves during those final moments thinking it was a dream. The idea of Phil, at fifty plus, holding off the imposing figure of Brooks Koepka to win the PGA Championship, seemed like an impossibility. Like Ali when he fought George Forman—there would be flashes of brilliance and plenty of determination, but sooner or later the big one would land. I kept thinking about the 2014 PGA Championship, 2015 Masters, and 2016 Open Championships where Phil fought his heart out, put up strong performances with great thrills, but ultimately came up just short. Not this time though, as Phil found an even deeper level of resolve to deliver a historic win for the ages, just as Mohamed Ali did back in 1974. It was a remarkable day, and most certainly the high point of Phil’s fantastic career. And do we dare get our hopes up for that elusive U.S. Open title? You bet we do!

Phil’s Fanatics 

Early in his career, Phil Mickelson garnered the nickname “Phil the Thrill” because he had a seemingly endless number of shots in his arsenal, and was willing pull them out of his bag at any time, regardless of risk, almost always with unlikely and eye-popping success. Since he broke out on tour in 1991, and won the Northern Telecom Open as an Amateur, everyone knew that this young lefty was going to provide us with a ton of excitement. Phil immediately captured the hearts of golf fans with his fan friendly, warm persona, along with his aggressive style of play. That style of play cost Phil quite a few tournaments, including a number of major championships, but that just endeared him to the golfing public even more. Eventually Phil’s following of loyalists became known as the “Phil fanatics.” No matter how poorly Phil might be playing, these fans never left his side. Well, the Phil fanatics were out in full force for Lefty last week at the PGA Championship. They cheered and hollered for him all week, and assembled around the 18th green to share the moment with their hero. Not since Arnie’s Army has a player generated that kind of love and excitement from golf fans—and richly deserved.

The Thrills Keep Coming

Phil’s last major victory came all the way back at the 2013 Open Championship, and there have been a number of highs and lows since then. A dry spell in 2014 and 2015 saw Mickelson drop his longtime swing coach, Butch Harman, and hire Andrew Getson. Getson revitalized Phil’s game, and their partnership resulted in 6 top 5 finishes in the 2016 season, including 3 runner-up’s—but unfortunately no victories. 2017 proved to be another winless season for Phil, now 47 years old with many believing that his days of winning on tour were behind him. But lo and behold, Phil reached into his bag of magic and surprised us all by winning the WGC Mexico Championship in 2018. It was an unbelievable victory, as he took down Justin Thomas in a thrilling playoff and proved that Lefty was not done quite yet. And then in 2019, Phil won again, capturing his fifth AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, only to struggle for the remainder of the year, failing to record a single top ten. The 2020 season proved to be another disappointment for Lefty, with only two top 5 finishes in the shortened season. And going into the PGA Championship this year, Phil hadn’t placed among the top 20 in a single event, most recently a disastrous finish at the Wells Fargo where he opened with a 64, only to follow that up with a 75 and a pair of 76’s. While most of the golf world viewed it as yet another sign that Phil was done, his fanatics (and most importantly Phil himself), saw only the brilliant 64, and continued to believe. Well, he’s done it again—shocking the world when everybody counted him out. Congratulations Phil, this was truly an epic performance. You can bet that Phil’s faithful flock will have swelled to record numbers for the Open at Torrey Pines next month, and win or lose, you know he will be giving it everything he’s got. A seventh major? Don’t count him out.  

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The Valero Texas Open

The Valero Texas Open at the TPC San Antonio, San Antonio  TX
TPC San Antonio, San Antonio TX

WGC-Dell Technologies Matchplay Wrap-Up

Billy Horschel raised the trophy at the WGC-Dell Technologies Matchplay last week, outlasting 64 of the best players in the world after five grueling days of head-to head nail biting competition and a tough final against the long-hitting 24-year-old youngster, Scottie Scheffler. This had to be a sweet victory for Horschel, who’s last win came back in 2018, as he dug deep to pull out match after match. Most of the players everyone expected to reach the weekend didn’t make it to the final 16, so we had a chance to see some of the lesser-known players show off their skill and tenacity—including top flight European Tour pros like Victor Perez, Robert MacIntyre, and Eric van Rooyen. Since this is a WGC event with premium points, the win moved Horschel all the way up 7th position in the FedEx Cup standings. Beating a field like this one has to be a big confidence boost, and it will be interesting to see how Billy comes out of the gate at Augusta National.

Valero Texas Open

This week begins the Valero Texas Open held on the Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio Golf Resort in San Antonio. The Championship began nearly 100 years ago, and has been hosted in the San Antonio area from the very beginning. Over the years a number of different courses have been the venue for The Texas Open, including Brackenridge Park Golf Course, Willow Springs Golf Course, Oak Hills Country Club, Pecan Valley Golf Club, Woodlake Golf Club, and La Cantera Golf Club before TPC San Antonio became the permanent host in 2010. The event was historically played in the fall series of the PGA Tour season, but was switched to May in 2009 (and later moved to April, the week before the Masters). Some of the biggest names in golf history have won this event, include Walter Hagan, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer (who won it three years in a row), Lee Trevino, Chi-Chi Rodriguez, Ben Crenshaw, and Hale Irwin.

The Field

Often the field is a little weaker the week before a major championship, with players wanting to rest a bit and sharpen particular aspects of their game, but The Valero has attracted quite a few big names, including a hard charging Jordan Spieth (final 16 at the Match Play), Tony Finau, Matt Kuchar (3rd place at the Match Play), Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland, and Phil Mickelson. Be sure to tune in this Thursday and catch some great golf as we head into Masters week.

TPC San Antonio

TPC San Antonio is a fabulous golf resort situated in the Cibolo Canyons in San Antonio, Texas. Established in 2010, and partnered with the JW Marriot San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, the golf courses are owned and operated by PGA Tour Golf Course Properties. The facilities consist of two eighteen-hole courses; The Canyons (a Pete Dye layout where the Valero is played) and The Oaks (designed by Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia.) Texas is known for nasty wind, but Pete Dye laid out the Canyons to be very playable with quality golf shots, and the course conditions are immaculate, so players will still have the opportunity to go low. The Canyons was designed to promote aggressive play, so get ready for fireworks and excitement as we head into the weekend. The USGA course rating is 76.6 with a slope of 145 on the Canyons and 74.5/139 for the Oaks. And if you are thinking about a southwestern golf get-away, you can’t go wrong at the JW Marriot San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa—first class quality all the way.

TPC San Antonio received a GolfDay Rating of 100.

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The Honda Classic

PGA National Resort and Spa, Palm Beach Gardens FL

The Players Championship Wrap-up

Last week concluded The Players Championship, and it was quite a wild ride to say the least. At the end of the week, Justin Thomas emerged as the victor. Thomas had been rather quiet the first two days of the championship, but on Saturday he fired a blistering 64 which left him only three shots off the pace set by tournament leader, Lee Westwood. On Sunday, Thomas continued his solid play, shooting a comfortable 68, and finishing one shot ahead of Westwood. This was Thomas’ first win of the season and it kicked him all the way up to second place in the FedEx Cup standings. The Players almost felt like a replay of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, as Bryson DeChambeau was in the mix again on Sunday, going off in the final pairing in back-to-back weeks with Lee Westwood. I think it’s a safe bet that Bryson will be lifting the championship trophy on quite a few Sundays in 2021 with the way he’s playing. And how about Lee Westwood, suddenly making putts to go along with the pure ball-striking that has been his trade mark for so many years. You won’t find a classier guy on tour, and it’s impossible not to pull for him (which it looks like we can do every week these days).

The Honda Classic

The Honda Classic is set to kick off this week in south Florida, with thrilling golf and a nail-biting finish pretty much guaranteed. Last year, seven players finished within three shots of eventual winner, Sungjae Im. In 2019, six players finished within three shots of winner Keith Mitchell, and in 2018 it came down to a playoff between Luke List and eventual winner, Justin Thomas. The event was originally played at Inverrary Country Club, and was known as “Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic”. Honda became the tournament sponsor in 1982, and from ‘84 through ‘91 the championship was held at Eagle Trace Golf Club in Coral Springs. After 1991, the tournament was hosted at a number of venues, including The Club at Weston Hills, Heron Bay Golf Club, and The Country Club at Mirasol, before finally settling at the Champion Course at PGA National Resort and Spa in 2007. When Jack remodeled the Champion Course in 1990, he created the treacherous three-hole stretch on the back nine that has become known as the “Bear Trap,” which over the years has provided some of the biggest thrills in golf (while guaranteeing that a player will have to hit more than a few extraordinary shots under pressure to take home the trophy).

The Field

Following the Players Championship, a number of big names will be taking the week off–but the field will still be plenty strong with past champion Sungjae Im, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Ricky Fowler, Daniel Berger, Jim Furyk, and the red-hot Lee Westwood all teeing it up. Another player to keep a close eye on this week is the young Joaquin Niemann, who had consecutive runner- up finishes earlier in the year at the Tournament of Champions and Sony Open. Past Champions at the Honda include Jack Nicklaus (twice), Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Johnny Miller, Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara, Curtis Strange, Tom Kite, Tom Weiskopf, and Vijay Singh.

PGA National Resort and Spa

PGA National Resort and Spa was established in 1980, and consists of five 18-hole courses, three of which (including the Champion Course), were originally designed by Tom Fazio, one of the great modern course architects. Jack Nicklaus lifted the Champion Course to even greater heights with the changes he made in 1990, with Arnie and Ed Seay adding their touch to this wonderful golf venue with the “The Palmer Course.” Karl Litten, a highly respected architect who often flies under the radar, designed the ‘The Estates Course.” In addition to the Honda, PGA National has been the site of many high-profile championships over the years, including the 1983 Ryder Cup, 1987 PGA Championship, and the Senior PGA Championship from 1982 through 2000. If you are planning a golf vacation, PGA National is a perfect choice. With five great courses and terrific accommodations, you will find an experience that will last a lifetime. And don’t forget to tune in for the Honda this week, you are guaranteed to see some great golf and big-time excitement come Sunday.

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Lefty makes Champions Tour Debut

Phil Mickelson Champions Tour Debut, Ozarks National MO

There’s some big news this week–Phil Mickelson has officially made his Champions Tour debut! Phil became eligible when he turned 50 back in June, but decided to maintain his regular tour schedule until now. Although he has not played to the high standard he expects of himself lately, Phil has certainly been competitive on the regular tour with two top 5 finishes this season, and feels that if he can stay healthy there’s no reason he shouldn’t stick around and add a few more to the 44 tour wins he’s already racked up. Lefty is unique in that not only has he been able to maintain his distance off the tee, he’s actually hitting it longer than ever (he calls it “dropping bombs”.) Unfortunately, the additional distance has thus far not produced the result he’s been looking for, as Mickelson’s PGA Tour season ended last week with missed cut at the Northern Trust (a few too many wayward bombs and not enough makeable putts finding the bottom of the hole). The good news is that now we get to see Phil tee it up with old foes like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Freddie Couples and Retief Goosen (who can all still get it out there pretty good). And what does Phil do right out of the box at the Charles Schwab Series Tournament at Ozarks National? He fires a 61 in the first round and follows that up with a 64 in the second round for 4 shot lead. Mickelson’s presence will provide a huge boost to the Champions Tour, which already boasted a group of legendary stars including John Daly, Steve Sticker, Colin Montgomery, and of course the ageless two-time Masters champ—Bernhard Langer.

Get the course details at GolfDay.

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Tiger/Manning vs. Phil/Brady

Golf fundraising event to benefit COVID19 relief

Who are the players?

For all the avid golf fans who are down in the dumps about the PGA Tour events that have been cancelled in the past few months, there’s some really good news. It has just been announced that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning will be teeing it up for a team match in May. The event is to take place on Memorial Day weekend in Florida, and will be pitting Woods and Manning against Mickelson and Brady, with the proceeds going to COVID-19 relief. Woods and Manning are already considered the betting favorites since Manning is a 6 handicap and Brady is an 8. Of course, we should not speak too soon, considering the rumors that Tiger’s back issues were flaring up again earlier this year (although Tiger insists that he is healthy) and Phil seems to thrive in these relaxed match-play settings, winning big chunks of change from other pros during practice rounds. Keep in mind too that Tom Brady is a 6-time Super Bowl champion, so there is no doubt he will bring some of that competitive, winning spirit to the match.

What can we expect?

The format has yet to be announced, but there has been some chatter about it being best ball—we’ll have to wait and see. Unlike the previous match between Woods and Mickelson back in 2018, which was a PPV event, this one will be broadcast live on regular television (TNT) so everybody will have the opportunity to watch 4 legends battle it out on the course. The players will practice social distancing throughout the event, and no spectators will be allowed to attend. No word on whether they will be masked, but doubtful since there is no reason to get that close on the golf course. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a truly exciting match. And with no golf to watch for a month and a half, could there possibly be a better way to bring back golf than a match between Phil and Tiger—not to mention the fun of seeing Tom Brady and Peyton Manning duke it out. What can we expect? I think it’s safe to say it will be a hard-fought battle, considering none of the 4 has a reputation for losing—particularly on a big stage. Tiger may have some extra incentive to even the score after his loss to Phil in 2018, but you can be sure that nothing would make Phil happier than beating Tiger again (outside of a U.S. open win in the fall perhaps). Like Woods and Mickelson, Brady and Manning were long-time rivals at the top of their game. While this match-up won’t take place on the gridiron, you can certainly expect to see some of the fire that propelled them both to super bowl victories. Personally, my money is on Mickelson and Brady. Either way, it’s exactly what we need to take our minds away from the troubles of the last few months, remind us that it won’t last forever, and there will be good days ahead. Something tells me that this is going to be special, so make sure you mark your calendar.

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