Mickelson credits Tiger for helping him reach his ‘level of success’

Tiger Woods’ impact on the game of golf is undeniable. According to one of Woods’ biggest rivals, however, his impact on the games’ players was equally indelible.

On Tuesday, Mickelson was candid about the influence Woods had on his game, fitness, and overall success.

“I feel as though had Tiger not come around, I don’t feel I would have pushed myself to achieve what I ended up achieving,” Mickelson said, according to Golf.com’s Kevin Cunningham. “He forced everybody to get the best out of themselves. He forced everybody to work a little bit harder.”

Tiger’s dedication to fitness and his commitment to staying in the best shape possible led Mickelson to change his own approach on the physical side of the game, leading Lefty to a career littered with trophies.

“I don’t think I would have had the same level of success had he not come around.”

Thursday’s opening-round action of the PGA Championship from Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., will mark the 100th major tournament of Mickelson’s storied career.

courtesy of Flip Livingstone (The Score)

U.S. Might Change Process of Selecting Ryder Cup Captain’s Picks

CHASKA, MN – OCTOBER 02: Ryan Moore of the United States hits off the third tee during singles matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club on October 2, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota. (Photo by Scott Halleran/PGA of America via Getty Images)   Ryan Moore was the final captain’s pick for the Americans at Hazeltine.

The U.S. Ryder Cup committee was scheduled to meet Tuesday by telephone, the first step toward picking a new captain. Attention has focused on Jim Furyk, mainly because he answered a hypothetical question at Sea Island that he would take the job if offered. He said he was not lobbying to be captain.

At some point after a captain is selected, the next decision will be how to pick a team.

Davis Love III, the winning captain and part of the committee, hinted that the entire U.S. team will be set before the Tour Championship. This year, Ryan Moore was the 12th and final player selected for the team after his playoff loss at East Lake.

The 2018 Ryder Cup is Sept. 28-30 in France.

“One thing we’ve got to really work on is picking this team, make sure we have a week to get everyone ready,” Love said. “Rushing off to Paris at the last minute when a guy has just made the team, throw him on a plane and we’re going to Paris, we’re wondering if that’s the smartest thing to do. That’s one of the discussion points.”

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods also are on the committee. The PGA of America is represented on the committee by Pete Bevacqua (CEO), Paul Levy (president) and Suzy Whaley (vice president).

AP News

After Split with Butch, Phil Mickelson Is Already Working With New Coach

Getson-9Well, that didn’t take long.

On Wednesday, GOLF.com reported that Phil Mickelson and Butch Harmon had split up after eight years of working together. They had been the most high-profile player/coach duo on Tour—and a highly successful one, netting 12 wins, including two majors, in their time together. By Thursday morning, a report had surfaced about Mickelson’s potential new teacher.

GolfDigest.com first reported through sources that Mickelson and Andrew Getson, an instructor at Greyhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., have been working together since Mickelson and Harmon separated. The report did not include confirmation of the partnership from either Mickelson or Getson, and it was initially unclear whether Mickelson has coronated Getson as his official swing coach or if they’ve just been working together casually. GOLF.com has indepedently confirmed that Mickelson will be working with Getson as the five-time major champ preps for his 26th year on Tour.

So … who is Andrew Getson?

The 41-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, has worked at Grayhawk since 2009. After a standout record as a teenager, Getson accepted an invitation to attend the Victorian Institute of Sport’s golf program (like other accomplished Aussies such as Geoff Ogilvy and Stuart Appleby.) He turned pro in 1999 at age 25 and played all around the world on several Tours, joining the Nationwide (now the Web.com) Tour in 2006. In his bio on his website, he says Greg Norman is golfing hero and that he likes to eat M&M’s the night before a big round.

He lists playing golf with President Bill Clinton as his biggest thrill in golf.

That part of his bio might soon need updating.

courtesy of Coleman McDowell (golf.com)

Jason Day Becomes World No. 1 for First Time Following BMW Victory

jason dayAfter winning his first career major at the PGA Championship last month, Jason Day has now crossed another career goal off his bucket list, becoming the World No. 1.

Day’s 6-stroke victory at the BMW Championship this weekend vaulted the 27-year-old Australian from third in the ranking to the top spot for the first time in his career. He is the youngest Australian to ever hold the number one spot, joining Greg Norman and Adam Scott as fellow countrymen to be ranked No. 1.

It was Day’s fifth victory of his 2015 season. Four of them have come since the beginning of July, which means they retain their full value now while Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy’s respective victories from spring have progressively lost value in the ranking system. As of this week, Day’s world ranking average sits at 12.64, but his two predecessors at No. 1 still remain less than a full point behind.

McIlroy and Spieth entered last weekend as the top-two golfers in the world, separated by the narrowest margin that Nos. 1 and 2 have ever been. After they both finished in the top 15 Sunday, very little has changed as McIlroy still has a slim edge (.03 points) over Spieth.

With just one tournament remaining on the PGA Tour schedule, the Tour Championship at East Lake is the last significant strength event for the next month. With three players stuck in proximity to each other, next week may very well bring another player to the top of the ranking.

courtesy of Sean Zak (golf.com)

Ready or Not, Golf’s Anticipated Return to the Olympics Is Near

Rio-OlympicGolf’s reentry into the Olympics, after a 112-year hiatus, has been fraught from the very beginning: complaints about the format and field size; myriad controversies surrounding the construction of the Olympic course in Rio; scheduling complications across numerous professional tours; and public outbreaks of apathy among certain top players. But, one year out, there has finally been a perceptible shift in opinion. Many of the biggest issues have been resolved, and with Olympic golf finally close to becoming a reality the loneliest of athletes seem to have embraced the chance to be part of something larger than themselves. Says Martin Kaymer,“The Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event in the world, so to play a role in it would be an incredible experience. We very rarely get to be a part of a team or play for our country so it will be an honor for any of us who get to do so.”

“I’ve dreamed about it since I was a little girl but I never thought I’d have the chance,” says Michelle Wie. “Finally golf is in the Olympics and my dream can come true.”

The golf in Rio will look very familiar: the format is 72 holes of stroke play, just like the major championships and pretty much every other tournament on television. Ever since the sport was voted back into the Olympics, in October 2009, the golf press has been hostile to the format choice. What makes the Olympics such riveting theater is that the athletes are constantly fighting for their survival, one little misstep from ruining a lifetime of preparation. That win-or-go-home ethos sounds a lot like match play, no? Even the two-man teams that were used for decades at golf’s World Cup managed to create a sense of teamwork and the feeling that you were rooting for the flag, not individuals. But the International Golf Federation, which spearheaded the game’s return to the Games, recommended individual stroke play for more practical reasons, and the IOC was happy to concur.

The field size in Rio for both the men and women will be only 60 players, largely because the IOC is working to limit the total number of athletes at the Games. (The U.S. Open accommodates 156 players.) Match play cuts the field in half with every round, potentially reducing fan interest and creating the doomsday scenario of only unknowns from small countries being left in the medal round. “We see extreme benefits in everybody who makes the Olympics competing all four days instead of many of them going home after one round of match play,” says Ty Votaw, the IGF vice president. “And in a match play scenario, you would likely be left with four players for the final day, with three of them guaranteed to medal. Where’s the dramatic tension in that? In stroke play, there could be 20 players within three shots of the lead That’ll breed excitement. And if you’re talking about players from China, India, Brazil…” Here Votaw’s voice trails off dreamily.

More problematic is the limited field size and the qualifying criteria it has spawned. Qualifying for the Olympics is pegged to the existing World Ranking. At the cutoff point on July 11, 2016 the top 15 in the ranking are automatically in the Games, with the proviso that there cannot be more than four players from any country. The World Ranking will be used to fill out the next 44 spots but no country can have more than two representatives. Brazil, as host country, will receive the 60th and final spot if not otherwise qualified.

What this means is that many of the biggest names in golf will not be in Rio. As of this writing, U.S. men hold down 14 of the top 23 spots in the World Ranking. Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk would qualify for the Games those who wouldn’t include Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, and Phil Mickeslon. With the two-player-per-country limit, various big-name Brits, South Africans and Aussies will also be left behind. Meanwhile, among those who are currently in the field are Ricardo Gouveia (Portugal), Angelo Que (Philippines), Thomas Pieters (Belgium), Chan Shih-chang (Taipe) and a dozen other randoms unknown even to the most sleepless Golf Channel viewer. This imbalance is repeated on the women’s side, where half of the top 18 in the World Ranking hail from Korea. World No. 1 Inbee Park recently called the qualifying criteria “disappointing,” adding, “If you are in the world’s top 50, you should be able to play in the Olympics. There are some countries where [players] ranked number 300 or 400 will play, but obviously not Koreans.”

Votaw, whose day job is at the PGA Tour, spearheaded golf’s return to the Olympics and he has a well-rehearsed rebuttal. “That isn’t how it’s done in any Olympic sport,” he says. “I would submit that the fourth-fastest sprinter from Jamaica can probably beat anybody in the world except the top three sprinters from Jamaica. But the guy who’s fourth doesn’t get in. It certainly doesn’t grow golf around the world when fully developed golf-playing nations dominate the field.”

This missionary spirit has informed the creation of the Olympic golf course, which is being built on the edge of an estuary in the Barra da Tijuca zone. When the Games leave town it will be the only public golf course in all of Rio de Janeiro—“another great legacy of this Olympics,” says IOC president Thomas Bach. Yet the course’s birth has been a struggle, with lawsuits related to competing claims of the ownership of the land on which it’s being built and public protests and media controversies about the course’s environmental impact, which is curious given that the site was previously a degraded sand mine.

Says Votaw, “I’ve learned to never say never in Brazil, but we believe all of the issues have been resolved and anything else is just background noise.” Undeterred by the endless delays has been the course’s designer, Gil Hanse, who was an underdog in the fierce competition to snag the commission. Hanse is beloved by purists for his natural, minimalist designs but his is a boutique operation compared to the brand names like Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman he was competing against. Hanse got the nod thanks to an exceedingly clever routing, wonderful use of the natural landforms and gorgeous bunkering that evokes the great courses of Australia’s Sand Belt, such as Royal Melbourne. It certainly didn’t hurt that Hanse made a strong commitment to native vegetation and water conservation, which will make the course sustainable into the future.

Course construction has been completed and now it’s just a matter of letting the turf mature. An IOC mandated test-event was scheduled for this November but the exhibition—which will likely feature four male and four female golfers—has been pushed to early 2016, allowing for another season of grow-in. Moving the event away from the holidays should also make it easier to coax top players to make the trip. Until it is tested by the pros the course’s merits will remain theoretical but the low-key Hanse can’t hide his excitement, saying in a recent email volley,“[IGF president] Peter Dawson described the course as a ‘thinking person’s course’ and we view that as a compliment of the highest order. I believe a thoughtful player who is able to assess the angles of play will be at an advantage.

The course is wide off the tee but in order to score the player will have to favor one side or the other based on the hole location for the day. The course will also favor a player who is creative with their short game given the many recovery options that exist around the greens. While we were building the course it was very frustrating given how inefficient the process was. However, in hindsight we may have benefited from the more leisurely pace as it allowed us to spend more time refining our thoughts and working on the details.”

The final hurdle for golf’s reentry into the Games was cleared last month when the PGA Tour released its rejiggered 2016 schedule. With the men’s Olympic golf provisionally scheduled for August 11-14, the PGA Championship has moved from its traditional mid-August slot to July 28-31, just two weeks after the British Open. The FedEx Cup playoffs will begin the week after the Games, followed immediately by the Ryder Cup. Being crowbarred between golf’s most important events only highlights the Olympics’ unusual status: it is the biggest sporting event in the world but still a curiosity in the golf world. Adam Scott recently voiced the traditionalist point of view, saying, “Whether I win an Olympic medal or not is not going to define my career or change whether I’ve fulfilled my career. It’s nothing I’ve ever aspired to do and I don’t think I ever will. It’s all about the four majors and I think that’s the way it should stay for golf.”

Bach, the IOC president, has already seen golf weather numerous challenges on its way to Rio, and he has a long view about its place in the Games. He buzzed into last month’s British Open to press flesh and at a press conference was asked, “If Olympic gold doesn’t represent the pinnacle of achievement in your sport, then does it have its place in the Games at all?”

With the tiniest of smirks, Bach replied, “Ask the gold medalist after he has been standing on the podium listing to the anthem and being celebrated by the world, then he will give you the answer.”

courtesy of Alan Shipnuck (golf.com)