Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Calling All Golfers

Once spring arrives, my plan is to do everything I can to update the golf course reviews I've done over the years. It is a selfless act, I know, but I undertake it with diligence and enthusiasm on behalf of you, the golfer/reader.

Unless I get a lot of chin music from the yahoos that write the expense account checks around here, my vow to you is to play round after round of investigative golf. That's right, I'll scope out the dog tracks and the dumps so that you don't have to waste your time or your money. If I play some gems along the way, hey, it's my job. Work, work, work, that is my promise.

Where I need your advice is in helping me compile and prioritize the list of courses that need immediate attention. You know better than me whether your regular course has changed -- for better or for worse -- since I reviewed it, maybe as long as 10 years ago. Has it been renovated, rerouted, ruined? Maybe you dispute my original assessment. You may even know of a course that I've overlooked altogether.

So, speak your mind. Give me a holler. I will thank you. Your fellow golfers will thank you.

Notes from the PGA Tour

Oklahoma State provided the most players to the PGA TOUR this year—10. The Cowboys are one ahead of UCLA and two ahead of Florida. Three schools—Texas, Arizona State and Georgia Tech each have seven players on TOUR. There are 92 colleges or universities represented, including 43 that produced more than one player.

The youngest player on the PGA TOUR is rookie Anthony Kim. Kim is 21 and will not turn 22 until June 19. He is one of 16 players who begin the year under the age of 25. Two of them, Sean O’Hair and J.B. Holmes, have already recorded TOUR wins.

The tallest player on TOUR is Jay Delsing at 6-5 and the heaviest is Scott Gutschewski at 260. The shortest player is Gavin Coles at 5-4 and the lightest is Jeff Sluman at 140.

There are 24 Australians on TOUR this year. There were only 23 international players total on the PGA TOUR as late as 1997.

Former Nationwide Tour players now make up 65% of the active players on the PGA TOUR.

There are 27 rookies on TOUR.

The 2007 roster includes players who hail from 41 different states (plus the District of Columbia) as well as 22 countries.

The 2007 season will see the TOUR visit 22 states as well as Mexico, Scotland and Canada.
In the 47-year history of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, the winning score has been 330 only three times. That happened in 2002, 2003 and 2004 with a lefthander winning each time—Mickelson in 2002 and 2004 and Mike Weir in 2003.

Mickelson will be making his first start of the season this week and he’s demonstrated an affinity for quick starts since joining the TOUR. He’s won his first outing of the season five times in his career, including twice at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (2002 and 2004).

When Paul Goydos won the Sony Open in Hawaii last week he displayed a great putting touch, making 59 of 63 putts (93.7%) inside of 10 feet. Even better, he made six of 13 putts between 15 and 20 feet.

The top rookie finisher in the first full-field event of the year was Doug LaBelle II. The Nationwide Tour graduate finished in a T4. It was his first career cut made and he was one of nine rookies to make the cut in Hawaii.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mickelson returns to action at Hope

A few highlights from Philly Mick's first press conference of the year at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

January 16, 2007

Phil Mickelson


PGA TOUR: It's been a while since we've seen you, so maybe talk about your off-season and we'll go from there.

PHIL MICKELSON: It was a great off-season. I watch sat on my couch all day and watched TV and didn't do a thing. Just kidding.

I'm looking forward to getting back to playing golf. Amy and I had some great trips. We did a week in Italy, went to Venice and Rome and hung out there with some friends. We had a chance to celebrate our 10th anniversary, we went down to Bora Bora and had a Polynesian wedding to renew our vows and just had a great time together.

Q. You haven't played since the Ryder Cup, I believe, as you know, there was a lot of criticism aimed at you because of your performance in the Ryder Cup, did you read about that, did you care, and could you explain what happened?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, my performance at the Ryder Cup was every bit as disappointing as my finish at the U.S. Open. Those two events were what made 2006 a disappointing year. Even though I won The Masters, I looked back and those two events, those were the ones that needed to be addressed. Why did that happen and what is it that I can do to fix those. And the first one was the U.S. Open. You know, I really believe that the past former presidents of the USGA that passed away were looking down and said no one should win the Open hitting two of 14 fairways, and that certainly came back to bite me and I have got to address that need. I addressed it with Rick Smith and Dave Pelz who devised some devices to help me with the driving. Rick is helping me with why that happened; why after The Masters I was not able to pick up where I left off and get my swing back.

And then I used Callaway's technicians to help with the design of a driver that will eliminate that left shot because not only was it on 18, it was on 17 and it was all throughout the final round. And so we're working on designing a club that eliminates that, and I think we've got it right. So I'm excited about that.

And then I feel like the Ryder Cup performance was more of -- as opposed to a game problem, more of a physical problem. It's late in the year, it's the last tournament for me of the year and I don't feel as though I stood up physically throughout the nine months, and especially we're playing 36 holes a day. And I needed to address that.

So the last three or four months, I've done a lot with my trainer, Sean Cochran, to address that. I immediately lost 20, 25 pounds and put on about 10 to 15 more with muscle from lifting, trying to build up stamina doing 45 minutes to an hour and a half of cardio five or six days a week. I've started a new martial arts, a different type of martial art from what I've been doing. We also continued with our core strength and so forth. But I'm hoping that this will improve stamina so that at the latter part of the year I have a better performance. I don't expect so see much in the start of the year because I usually play well in the start of the year. I expect to see the same. But I think at the latter part of the year I'm hoping to continue or sustain that level of play throughout the whole year now.

Q. After you left after the Ryder Cup, it seemed like a popular game around the country was: What's Phil's state of mind and how is his shattered psyche. It doesn't sound like you played into that game much in the off-season.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, dealing with failure is part of the game. I deal with it 90 percent of the time.

Q. You mentioned the new stamina, the emphasis on that. Is that directed at all toward the FedExCup finish with the four tournaments in a row?

PHIL MICKELSON: Very possibly. Not just the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, but hopefully it will help out through the FedExCup finish where we're looking to be most likely playing six of seven events. That's going to be a big element of it, and one of the things that I added, too, was weight training. I haven't really done that in the past. I started lifting a lot more and instilling kind of a weight program that should hopefully help with endurance throughout the year.

Q. I apologize for asking the first Masters question of the year, you've had a lot of success and good things that have happened to you, is there one Masters memory that stands out now as your favorites?

PHIL MICKELSON: Come on now, 18, '04? Absolutely. (Laughter).

Q. When you talk about the one shot, you mean the drive?

PHIL MICKELSON: The drive, yeah.

Q. Because you couldn't do anything after?

PHIL MICKELSON: But it wasn't just that one drive on 18. I missed them through the entire tournament but that one drive made me look back at the entire tournament to say, what's going on here.

Q. A couple of years ago, everybody remembers the Tiger versus Phil, everybody was watching it, of course you came on when Tiger was being introduced at the one tournament, do you dislike that, like it; do you think we're going to see a rekindling of that or what are your thoughts?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't know, he's obviously played very well. He's won the last six tournaments. It was fun. It was fun and I certainly want to get back to that level where I'm able to compete in each tournament, compete against Tiger week-in and week-out. But again, it's not easy. He's a remarkable player.

Q. What advice would you give to Tadd Fujikawa and talked to you about the temptations that are headed this way as far as being 16 years old?

PHIL MICKELSON: The only advice I can say is to grow. I think another six, seven inches would be great. (Laughter) I'm just kidding.
I think that the great thing about Tadd is his demeanor or. I just love the way he presents himself. He has so much fun playing golf and I love watching him play. I think that he's going to be a tremendous talent and add so much at that time game, because he's unique. He's different than your typical TOUR player and I just love that. To do that well at 16 shows what kind of game he has and we just need to get him out sooner.

Q. You talked about the swing changes in the off-season, can you give us sort of a synopsis in layman's language that readers might understand about what basically you've done to change your swing off the tee?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, what I really want to do is instead of having the face at impact aim left, I want it aimed more down the middle. That's the goal. (Laughter) Otherwise, you know, technically, everybody's swing is different. It's not going to make much sense, but all I'm trying to do is square up the face a little bit quicker.

Q. What did you find when you look back at it, how do you reflect that as opposed to right afterwards?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I need to make a change. I need to make a slight change so that my miss is not to the left and I drive it in play. Any major is an emotional event, and I find myself very tired at the end of each major. Whether I win lose or come close at all to winning and lose or miss the cut, they are all very draining because so much effort goes into performing well there.

Q. Do you feel like the media are if I can to sort of linger on the negative things that have happened to you over the years?

PHIL MICKELSON: Do you? (Laughter).

Q. In general as a whole.

PHIL MICKELSON: Do I feel that way? I don't know. I think it's probably the same for everybody.

In a bit of other news, Mickelson announced he is has opened a golf course design business.

Good for Goydos

Out on the PGA Tour, they don't come much more low-key and unassuming than Paul Goydos. That's why it's so great the guy just won his first tournament, the Sony Open, after 17 years as a journeyman pro.
I don't know Goydos well. I see him at tournaments, but we almost never speak. He always seems to be quietly going about his business, fading into the background behind the big name stars. He's not big -- 5-foot-9 with slumped shoulders -- and he looks more like an actuary than a pro athlete. How this guy can shoot 63 is beyond me.
The only time I ever had a real conversation with him was during a rain-delay a few years ago, when he and I and a few others ducked into a shed out on the course rather than trudge back to the clubhouse in the downpour. I recall him talking about his days working as a substitute teacher early in his golf career.
The next time I took much notice of Goydos was last summer, at Canoe Brook in New Jersey, where he and Michelle Wie were among the hundreds of hopefuls trying to qualify for the U.S. Open. At lunch, in a room set aside for players and media, I happened to sit down at the table next to him. He was alone and looked very glum after a lousy morning round that made his afternoon loop essentially a waste of time. I remember thinking how frustrating life can be for a plenty of pros not named Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson.
Now Goydos has finally won on the PGA Tour, which is gaurateed to change his life. His reaction? "I'm stunned."