Putting the “funny Phireside” chats on hold, going on a retreat and living off water and a special coffee blend—really all the same things Willie Park Jr. did before the 1878 Open—Phil Mickelson has posted this missive from the hills above Royal Portrush. One thing he did not do: get a haircut.
The desirable length for a good course is from 6,000 to 6,400 yards. But bear in mind that it is quality, not quantity, that counts. In my work I repeatedly have had trouble making committees see the force of this. They seem possessed with the idea that length is the main desideratum. It is beyond all argument that many a long course is noticeably uninteresting, in contrast to shorter ones that are well thought-out and skillfully constructed. DONALD ROSS
Pretty stunning admission from Phil Mickelson Wednesday at the Travelers.
From Brian Wacker’s GolfDigest.com report:
“I really don’t have many more chances,” Mickelson said Wednesday from the Travelers Championship, where he is playing for the first time in 16 years. “I probably have to come to the realization that I’m not going to win a U.S. Open.”
The U.S. Open returns to Winged Foot next year, where Mickelson nearly won in 2006.
I’m sure Arnold Palmer wishes he could have have taken to Twitter in his World Golf Hall Of Fame jacket, simulating a toilet sitting position and making his first story one with scatological roots.
What will Phil do next…
Phil Mickelson’s 75 Saturday at Pebble Beach ended his chances here, so it’s never too early to start rebuilding his Golf Gods karma credits.
From Todd Kelly’s Golfweek story:
“I tell you, I think it’s — I’m really happy that I had this chance, this opportunity this week. I’ve got to give it to — hand it to the USGA for doing a great setup. It’s the best I’ve ever seen. And it’s identifying the best players. It’s making the players the story,” he said.
“I think the biggest thing was pin placements, instead of putting them right on the edges they were in good spots, rewarding great shots. I can’t say enough great things about how this week has gone so far. And I’m appreciative to the effort they’ve put in and for the opportunity that I had this week.”
An online retraction has been posted and a Golf.com column by Michael Bamberger removed that suggested jailed gambler Billy Walters “was, court documents make clear,” Phil Mickelson’s “bookie.”
On June 17, 2018, GOLF.com published an article with the headline “It’s complicated: To understand Mickelson’s controversial actions, you must first understand Phil.” The article refers to Billy Walters as Phil Mickelson’s “bookie,” the accuracy of which Walters disputes. The court records referenced in the article do not specifically refer to Walters as Mickelson’s “bookie” and GOLF.com has not been able to substantiate the claim. GOLF.com has removed the article and retracts the reference to Walters.
Of course, Walters merely offered stock advice that turned out to get him in big trouble for insider trading. The former AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner is currently serving time and believes his “ex-friend” Mickelson could have exonerated him had he testified in the trial that ultimately sent Walters to jail.
The original Bamberger story can still be read via Google’s cache search option.
It’s been a tough start for the new owner of Golf Magazine and Golf.com, Howard Millstein, who also owns Nicklaus Design and quickly gave one of his companies a “Best U.S. Renovation” award, with a special story highlighting the accomplishment (a note explaining the relationship was later added to this online entry.)
A similar “holding company” tagline was also eventually added to this story on Miura irons posted at Golf.com, but well after eyebrows were raised at the lack of basic transparency.
He’s not been known of late for cutting stories off at the pass.
But as I noted here for Golfweek/USA Today, Phil Mickelson wisely put himself out front and also talked to writers after his opening 74. The Mickelson’s employed Rick Singer’s firm, which sits at the heart of the college admissions scandal.
Will Gray has a longer report for GolfChannel.com on Mickelson’s post round comments suggesting his children would disown him had he used any nefarious means to help them gain college admittance.
Looks like we won’t have to wait until Tuesday’s practice round to hear if Phil Mickelson will play this year’s Players after saying he need to wait and see. I know you were worried.
Phil Mickelson'’s playing a fascinating game of maybe or maybe not-playing the PGA Tour’s marquee event returning to its old March date, reports Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek.
Mickelson said he’ll play a practice round Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass, home to the PGA Tour’s flagship event which he won in 2007, and go from there.
“I’ll play nine and take a look and, I mean, I want to play it, so I would most likely,” Mickelson said. “But if I hit it like this, it’s pointless, so I’ve got to figure something out.”
Doesn’t he know how high the airline change fees are these days? Oh, right…
With round 1 suspended and early scores nullified due to the rules staff deciding the poor visibility. Mark Russell’s comments on this rare nullification of scores:
Q. Finally, you nullified the scores that were posted for the few players that were out earlier this morning, first time in more than five years since it's happened on the PGA TOUR. What was the decision for that?
MARK RUSSELL: We don't do that very often, but if I had it to do over again, we would have delayed the starting times. We tee off at sunrise. We have to because here a lot of times we don't finish, we have to use all the available daylight we have. We teed off at sunrise and I was on the first tee with the players and it was very marginal, thinking in my mind this is going to get better every minute. They teed off, we had their balls under control, but the visual never got better. The cloud cover's so thick that you just couldn't see.
So once we did suspend play, the committee got together and just decided that we need to nullify these scores because the visual, it never got where you could see where your ball went, barely see the flagstick. And like I say, under normal circumstances it would get better every minute. It never did. As a matter of fact, it got worse, so we decided to nullify the scores. That's not a common thing, but the committee does have the discretion to do that. We felt in this situation that's the thing to do.
In his one hole that has now been nullified, Phil Mickelson did make this spectacular four:
The eyes bulge ever-so-slightly, otherwise Paul Casey does one spectacular job not engaging in a full eye-roll as the set and light was all but gone at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Bill Speros recaps the zany post-sunset antics.
Skratch posts the conversation followed by Mickelson’s reaction when the horn sounds (at 17 tee, apparently hoping someone changes their mind!). Play over the final two holes resumes Monday at 8 am PT.
I’m less interested in Phil Mickelson’s off-season speed bump from a distance regulation perspective and more from a mentality boost he says this gives him. However, it is still an amazing leap at age 48 and back to using last year’s Rogue driver.
Some of the improvement is health related, as Steve DiMeglio writes:
He hit the gym to build up his strength and explosiveness, especially in the offseason. He had a biomechanics study done and looked at the kinematic sequence of his swing to pinpoint his strengths and weaknesses. He spent hours working on his putting and iron play.
Further, he hired a nutritionist and is steadfastly adhering to a new diet. Sugar, for instance, is a no-no, and for a man who rarely said no to any dish or a second helping in the past, that takes will power.
“There are a lot of things that you can do to help your body heal, recover, and get strengthened,” Mickelson said.
And from Kevin Cunningham’s Golf.com item on Phil as he’s contending in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“So at the end of last year, even though I played poorly, I had something happen where it seemed like overnight,” Mickelson said on Friday, “it had really been a year in the works, where my driver speed, it shot up 5, 6 miles an hour, which rarely ever happens to anybody, yet alone somebody in their late 40s.”
Here’s the interesting part confirming that launch angle, bomb and gouge mindset is vital in Mickelson’s eyes:
“I think that’s going to lead to some good things,” Mickelson said. “If you’re going to be crooked off the tee, you sure as heck better be long and that’s kind of the way I’m trying to approach it.”
Of course he’s been incredibly accurate so far this week.
Phil Mickelson hit all fairways in his AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am opener and believed that was a first.
But as Steve DiMeglio notes for Golfweek, the bigger surprise was just how many times Mickelson has accomplished the feat for someone, uh, mildly accurate off the tee during his illustrious career.
“So history was made today,” Mickelson said. “To the best of my knowledge it’s taken me 27 years and a few months to hit all fairways in a single round in a competition. I may have done it before, but I don’t ever recall doing it.”
Well, Mickelson has done it before. Six times on the PGA Tour, in fact. But let’s cut his memory some slack. The most recent time he accomplished the feat came 21 years ago in the Farmers Insurance Open.
His total recall aside, Mickelson was impressive throughout his round. His seven birdies swamped his lone bogey on the fifth hole and he stood in a tie for third place behind pacesetters Brian Gay and Scott Langley, who also played the Shore and shot 64.
Mickelson also made news by adding the Genesis Open at Riviera where he’s a two-time champion. He had previously decided to skip the event but after a missed cut in Scottsdale, gives the tournament 7 of the world top 10.
Spielbergian vision here from Jim Nantz on the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and Phil Mickelson’s effort to complete the career Grand Slam:
"What an American dream. You could have a grandson later walk those same fairways," Nantz said. "Instead of what his grandfather was making, 25 cents a bag, now he’s going to close out the career Grand Slam on the sacred sod of Pebble Beach, what a story that would be.
The full clip from Morning Drive at the PGA Show where Nantz was unveiling his collaboration with Vineyard Vines benefitting the Nantz National Alzheimer Center:
If you saw any of Phil Mickelson’s driver swings during the Desert Classic you know he wasn’t holding back in a blatant effort to have the shortest club possible into PGA West’s greens.
The approach is an offshoot of the early 2000’s Bomb and Gouge only players are now able to carry the ball even farther off the tee thanks to optimization. Enter, launch angle golf, which I wrote about for Golfweek as the future way approach for young players at most courses. And, one 48-year-old.
Mickelson was blunt prior to the final round about this intentions:
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know what to say, I played okay and my goal or game plan of playing the Stadium Course is to actually hit drivers and to try to bomb it down there as close to the greens as you can. Even though the -- because the fairways are tight in a lot of areas and if I miss fairways, try to have wedges or short irons in -- and it seemed to play out okay today and I gave myself a lot of good chances. I missed a few short putts that I've been making historically now for awhile and I let a few slide, but I also made a couple of long ones that were nice little bonuses.
Q. Not the best but managed your golf around this place, that's what it it's all about, just management.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it is. I think that there's some holes -- I think it's a course that you can play aggressive. I think it's a course you can hit drivers. Even though the fairways can be tight up where driver is, if you hit it long enough and you have short irons into some of these holes it's an advantage. And that's kind of the way I've been trying to play this week is rip at the driver and get some short irons in and I've been able to make a lot of birdie doing that.
After the final round, lamented his putting, as reported by Sean Martin for PGATour.com:
He lost 3.2 strokes on the greens Sunday. He missed a 4-foot putt to three-putt the first hole and also missed two putts from 5-7 feet.
“I had a terrible putting day, one of the worst I can recall in a while,” he said. “It started right on the first hole. … I felt awful with the putter. I hit a lot of good shots today, though, but just couldn’t get the ball to go in the hole.”
Ultimately this is why Mickelson is wisely skipping Torrey Pines this week, where the high rough and some of his recent numbers suggest it’s best he stay away, notes The Forecaddie.
Congrats to winner Adam Long. Whoever you are. Clutch stuff!
I’m going to sound old here, but there was a time that La Quinta Country Club was where Bob Hope Desert Classic scores went to die. It was the hardest of the Hope rota courses and the ones players had to survive.
So I hiccuped when reading Ryan Lavner’s GolfChannel.com account of Phil Mickelson’s opening round, 12-under-par 60 at La Quinta CC in the 2019 Desert Classic.
Mickelson again played down his chances in his 2019 debut, but it clicked so well at La Quinta Country Club – the easiest of the three courses in the rotation at the Desert Classic – that he gave himself a chance to break 60 for the first time in his Tour career. He went out in 30. Then he birdied Nos. 10, 11, 13 and 14. Then came the birdie on 16, and all of a sudden, he realized that he needed to birdie each of the last two holes to finally shoot golf’s magic number. On 17, he tried to hook a sand wedge into a tight pin and left himself 18 feet. He missed low, but still finished with a flourish: With a chance to card the third 60 in his career, he spun a wedge to 10 feet and buried the putt.
I pulled out George Peper’s 1986 book, Golf Courses Of The PGA Tour to feel really old just to make sure my memory of La Quinta as the one non-pushover course. Peper writes:
At 6911 yards, La Quinta is the longest of the five Hope courses, and with lakes bordering seven of its fairways this tropical layout can be as difficult as it is beautiful.
The other rota courses: Indian Wells CC, Bermuda Dunes, Tamarisk and El Dorado. I swear doesn’t seem like that long ago!
Mickelson’s first round highlights:
This week on Golf Central, we discussed Mickelson’s chances of winning in his 50s (he’s 48) and his chances of being the oldest winner in PGA Tour history:
There are several interesting questions and several serious ones as executed by Adam Schupak, but these two on the lighter side were fun:
WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE DINNER WITH TIGER OR PHIL?
Table for one, please!: 12%
“Table for one because Tiger would probably stick me with the check.”
“I’ve had dinner with Phil and I didn’t enjoy it.”
“I’d like to pick Tiger’s brain on how he overcame his suffering. That could really help me.”
“Phil. He’s got more to say.”
12% for neither!? They’re legends! Suck it up Euros!
WHICH AMERICAN PLAYER MOST IRRITATES YOU?
Bryson DeChambeau: 16%
Bubba Watson: 11%
Several tied (including Mickelson): 5%
Declined to answer: 68%
“Any of them that act like babies.”
“Wait, I can only pick one?”
Hmmm…tension between the tours!
As we’ve had time to mull Thanksgiving 2018’s The Match with it’s pay wall gone bad and gimme’s from a stout range, organizers are still planning on going forward with two more editions, reports Golf World’s Dave Shedloski.
The good news? A partners match seems likely with Tiger and Phil either pairing up, or not. While that will prolong the day, hopefully an enticing match will be put together on a different golf course.
If you are prone to believe the numbers put out be unnamed sources, the financials were amazing:
…but knowledgeable sources told Golf World that the $9 million showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Nov. 23 in Las Vegas drew nearly one million customers who paid the $19.95 fee.
So nearly 1 million paid but because of pay wall issues at match time, the wall was quickly dropped, exposing organizers to returns of nearly $20 million? Charitable.
Charles Barkley - He should have been on the full broadcast, in hindsight. He got right to the point as Tiger and Phil struggled horrible to read Shadow Creek’s greens. He jousted as only he can with Justin Verlander’s Tweets, too. But sadly, Barkley also was not around for the last couple of hours to put a bow.
The Audio - Turns out, a feed of just open microphones would have been enough for most people. Phil was in hard sell mode early but once he settled into a normal round of golf, basically narrated the proceedings. Tiger chimed in with enough to make a player-only feed functional had that been an option. Yes, Phil was winded at times and a breather was distracting, but the real potential for this production came together as both players had driven beautifully down the 6th, the cameras were tight to both players as we could hear each in between clubs for the approach. The kind of gripping cinematic moment that the organizers had envisioned.
ShotLink Putt Probables - A simple graphic told us how far the player was from the hole and his career make percentage (ShotLink era) from that distance. Simple, clean and informative.
Live Drone Shot Down The First Fairway - It was pretty cool to move from one last player interview to a live shot down the first fairway. Unfortunately, the technology appeared limited from there on out. Perhaps too many competing cell signals?
Pat Perez - he sounded engaged and as someone who knew the players, through in a few opinionated remarks about being surprised that Tiger was giving putts and at how they were orchestrating the charity-driven side bets. And not one F-bomb!
Hole Graphics - animated hole graphics with tracer technology may have been the most vibrant and eye-catching I’ve seen. Once it was clear the drone was not reliable and the drone flyovers were needed, these jumped out as adding a futuristic feel to the telecast.
Tiger Woods’ Generosity - Wow was that many giving putts! But they all helped in the interest of pace of play and entertainment value of the match. This is a nice way of saying he twice prevented (possibly) having The Match end on a missed putt. Phil returned the favor once, by my count.
Phil Mickelson Wearing A Mic - He should be in the great category, but the hard sell mode a few times (how great is this? how great was Samuel Jackson?) dings the performance a bit. I love how he went off topic with the PGA Tour’s Mark Russell, with brother Tim Mickelson and with others. That’s about how Phil plays a normal round of golf and he gave a window into the types of conversations he has. If only…
Announcers Talking Over Players - Everyone was guilty at some point and I’m sympathetic to the cause as this was not a normal broadcast crew, not a normal match and an unprecedented amount of sound for a sporting event to take in. Still, to miss out on Mickelson asking Russell about a rule of golf change he just does not comprehend and several other side chats about shots, was tough for the core golf fan. The more novice viewer may prefer announcer storytelling, which is why lead announcer Ernie Johnson trampled over so much talk.
The Champion’s Belt - sensational buckle design, simple brown leather look but uh, it didn’t fit Phil Mickelson, who looked visibly annoyed he couldn’t put it on. Next time, let’s make two belts, one for those with subcutaneous fat and one for those without.
Ernie Johnson - As Phil Mickelson is looking through his rangefinder for a yardage, Ernie Johnson is telling us on the 18th hole that Phil “has the laser out.” Somewhere Frank Chirkinian was screaming. Unfortunately, Johnson regularly spoke over on-course conversations, stated the obvious (what we saw on screen) and did not embellish the action. He would have been better served by having his Inside the NBA counterpart Charles Barkley in the booth, perhaps.
Natalie Gulbis - She appeared for some first hole observations and surfaced again at the 18th tee for a bad interview after Tiger’s chip-in. Her absence in between was not missed.
The Playoff Hole - a wise move by promoters to be ready for a tight match and sudden death, the 93 yard shot required a hole location change and had a strange feel to it given the amount of money at stake.
Capital One Ads - Presented in Playing Through mode as we saw golfers walking off the tee, we missed out on match discussions to be annoyed by Samuel Jackson and Charles Barkley asking what’s in our wallet. Better than Capital One cafe spots, but still pretty annoying commercials given that some of us paid for the match.
Gambling - All of the stakeholders learned a valuable lesson today: golf is tricky to bet on and real-time gambling is even trickier. While Mark Broadie supplied some stats that were of note. But the whirlwind nature of a two-man golf match—yes it moved amazingly fast—made it hard to embed bets or betting scenarios to enjoy. The most interesting pointed out may have been at the 7th tee when we learned the great 5-1 price punters got on the match being even after nine, was in play. Otherwise, the action moved too fast for fun gaming.
Gambling 2 - We heard about what MGM punters were betting on each hole but was it interesting to hear what punters were putting on each hole, without any real reason to be better players on particular holes? Not at all.
Shadow Creek - The course lived up to its name, serving up shadows while the late light hit the treetops. This created an unimpressive look to a course once ranked in Golf Digest’s top ten in the U.S. Add on the excess of Flinstone rocks, strategically-light design and tree overplanting, and Shadow Creek did not pop. The course exuded underwhelming television appeal in part because of the odd lighting situation. The 17th hole was deemed a genuine centerpiece but came off looking like something even waterfall lover Donald Trump would say was sooooo last century.
AT&T/Turner/Bleacher Report Synergy - Seen as the future of sports broadcasting, the inability to conduct normal transactions and ensuing decision to give away a pay-per-view match overshadowed everything. The disastrous rollout of the supposed future of broadcasting and sports packaging provided a stark reminder that the rush to usher in a new era is just that: rushed.
Darren Rovell first broke the news on Twitter after most potential online buyers of The Match’s $19.99 stream could not even reach the point of giving BR Live and AT&T their money. His ESPN.com story explaining what caused the backers to throw in the towel and give away the stream.
Anyone on Twitter heard immediate reports of viewers unable to even get a purchase going, while others mentioned getting The Match free without ever paying. Which, it turns out, was around the time executives huddled somewhere and uh, cut the pay cord.
Given the number of sports organizations and media tycoons taking The Match’s pay-per-view streaming temperature, the failure could rank with the great debacles in sports television history. Then again, maybe many weren’t paying and the decision was easy.
Who will be hurt most by losing paid streamers we won’t know since AT&T, Turner and its various affiliated brands were making a grand synergy play here.
Did Tiger and Phil receive a cut of the paid subscriptions?
We also won’t know that unless one of the parties publicly complains. Or sues.
The culprit behind the technology failure is also not known, though SBJ’s Austin Karp noted Turner’s $200 million purchase of iStreamplanet as a possible source to consider.
As for those who did pay—myself included—the experience via a cable pay-per-view pass was excellent until non-AT&T-owned outlets ended the stream before the trophy ceremony where Phil Mickelson was unable to get the winner’s belt around his waist.
Golf World’s Dave Shedloski takes a deep dive into The Match and how the Tiger-Phil event came together. You’ll have to wade through some self-congratulatory stuff and mentions of activations and next-generation deals, but it’s a great read for anyone interested in the anatomy of a deal.
There were also a few details that stood out worth commenting on. Starting with this on the rights fee, which would
No, this will be an intense competition between two rivals—the bitter kind for many years—who have forged a friendship, an alliance and a nameless joint-entity shell company into which cash already is flowing, thanks to the fee WarnerMedia’s Turner paid (much higher than the reported $10 million) for the rights to the more commercially catchy property known as “Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil.”
Much higher than $10 million in rights for one day. That’s giving new meaning to loss leader!
The origins of the event surprised me:
The concept for The Match began with a hypothetical question between two Hollywood friends, CAA’s Jack Whigham, the agency’s co-head of motion picture talent, and one of his clients, Bryan Zuriff, a producer whose credits include the film, “Jobs,” and the Showtime series “Ray Donovan.”
Zuriff, a golf enthusiast who was a huge fan of “The Skins Game” that used to occupy Thanksgiving weekend, is that creative type who has a million ideas running through his mind at all hours.
The story ultimately confirms the “franchise” concept in play.
All along the plan has been to create a franchise of high-stakes matches. So, too, is the aspect of players squaring off, said one source, “for a full PGA Tour purse in one-day events.” In other words, taking the tour’s concept of early-round featured pairings to a new level with an immediate payoff.
Woods and Mickelson would own such a series, which Loy said could include the two competing together as teammates. That would have the unmistakable feel of Challenge Golf, the 1960s TV series in which Arnold Palmer and Gary Player were the featured team against a collection of high-profile professionals. “We hope to see other players involved. You might see Phil and Tiger against players at the top of the world rankings, or two players from the same nation,” Loy said. “But, obviously, a lot depends on the pay-per-view numbers. We’re optimistic about it.”
Still comes down to the numbers.