Week on Tour: Mickelson to miss US Open, but Rory should be fit

Golf News

In our latest news round-up, Phil Mickelson looks set to miss his biggest week of the year, but Rory McIlroy should be fit for Erin Hills.

Family ties for Mickelson

The US Open is the one major where we get to talk about Phil Mickelson more than Tiger Woods and it looks likely that we won’t be watching either with Mickelson announcing that he will be attending his daughter Amanda’s graduation on the Thursday of Erin Hills.

But it does seem that Rory McIlroy will be in Wisconsin after recovering from his rib injury.

Mickelson, who has six runner-up finishes and needs his home Open to complete the career Grand Slam, is yet to officially withdraw but the chances are that he will be on parental rather than playing duty. He has until just before the commencement of his opening round to pull out.

“My daughter is graduating, she is the school president, she’ll be giving the commencement speech for the school and I am going to be there. Unfortunately it comes on the Thursday of the Open, around 10 in the morning pacific time and there’s no way I can make it no matter what the tee time is. I didn’t want the USGA to be caught off guard and I wanted the alternate to know he will most likely be in,” Mickelson said.

“There is no sense in doing it (withdrawing formally) now. Something might come up with the commencement, the weather, something unforeseen, but it doesn’t look very good. Obviously, it’s a tournament that I want to win the most but this is one of those moments where you look back on life and you just don’t want to miss it. I’ll be able to play the next two years solidly before Sofia (his second daughter) gets to graduate, hopefully.”

Mickelson’s first runners-up finish took place at the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst shortly before Amanda was born. That week he claimed he would leave the tournament at any point to be present for the birth.

But Rory should be there

On the upside, former US Open champion Rory McIlroy will be teeing up having missed Wentworth and Muirfield Village after being troubled by the stress fracture all year.

He told The Guardian: “I am ready for Erin Hills and looking forward to playing there for the first time. I never like to miss events but it was important I got back to a level of fitness where I felt like I could give myself the best possible chance at the US Open.

“As I have said many times before, majors will ultimately determine my golf career but I have had the rest of this busy season to consider as well.”

Dufner comes with a late run at Jack’s place

Jason Dufner produced a brilliant back nine to win the Memorial by three and with it his fifth win on the PGA Tour.

The American had a 77 on Saturday but then stayed on to have dinner with Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler and he left the course in a better mood than he might have done after having seemingly blown the tournament.

But he then picked up four birdies from the 10th and signed off with a 30-footer for par at the last having driven into rough. His playing partner and dinner companion Fowler was in with a shout but he dropped shots at 14 and 18 to share second with Anirban Lahiri who had a spotless 65.

The overnight leader Daniel Summerhays had led by three but he doubled the last for a 78 to drop back into 10th spot.

“Yesterday was not my best day. But I had to get over it quick. It’s a 72-hole tournament, there’s a lot of things that can happen out there. I knew I was still in the mix, said Dufner.

“I’ve always been a fighter, especially since I’ve turned professional. Doing this hasn’t come easy for me. There’s been a lot of struggles and a lot of setbacks. I didn’t come straight out of college and play the PGA Tour. It took me almost 10 years to get out here. Took me another two after that to win and actually get to where I felt comfortable.”

Paratore doing it for the kids

At 20 years and 172 days, Italian Renato Paratore won the Nordea Masters to become the 11th youngest winner in European Tour history and the youngest since Matteo Manassero, who walked the final few holes with his countryman, at Wentworth four years ago.

Paratore shot 70 at Barseback to beat English duo Chris Wood and defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick, the former came to the 72nd hole needing a par to make it a play-off but he drove into trees and had to take an unplayable.

The good news for Wood is that it looks likely that he will get inside the top 60 in the world and, should he stay there until June 12, he will be eligible for the US Open.

George Coetzee had the round of the day with a seven-under 66 but the South African came up two shots short.

Paratore said: “The key points were on eight and nine where I made birdie to come back after a bit of a difficult start. I played more or less solid and the last three holes I managed three very good pars.

“It’s big for my confidence because I was looking for this win the last year and now I’ve achieved that.”

 

De Vicenzo dies aged 94

Roberto De Vicenzo, the man remembered more for his Masters gaffe than his Open victory, died on Thursday at the ripe old age of 94.

The Argentine was the first from his country to win a major – Angel Cabrera has since won two more – when he beat Jack Nicklaus by two shots at Hoylake in 1967.

Then, two majors later, Tommy Aaron marked a par 4 on De Vicenzo’s card at the 17th when he had in fact made a birdie and the South American signed for it.

So, instead of preparing for a play-off with Bob Goalby, he had lost out.

“I play golf all over the world for 30 years, and now all I can think of is what a stupid I am to be wrong in this wonderful tournament,” De Vicenzo said.

His last win on the PGA Tour came at the Houston Open a few weeks later, he also won nine times in Europe, but all those pale into insignificance when you look at his 131 victories on home soil to go with 62 in South America.

He received the Bob Jones Award in 1970 and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1989.

Beef adds the trimmings

When you are playing 36 holes of stroke play to try and grab one of 15 places for the US Open then three eagles is always going to help the cause.

Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston had a hole-in-one at the second on the New and then added another in the afternoon at the par-4 third. Thirteen holes later he added another eagle, this time at a par 5, for a 66 and a shot inside the cut line.

Arran Rai, twice a winner already on the Challenge Tour, topped the leaderboard with rounds of 66-64.

China’s Hao-tong Li, former US Amateur champion Richie Ramsay and four-time European Tour winner Alex Levy tied for third. Eddie Pepperell shared fifth with Joel Stalter, Oliver Bekker and Bradley Dredge while George Coetzee and Brandon Stone tied with Johnston.

Which left a play-off and four spots from seven players – Paul Dunne, Thomas Aiken were the first through to be followed by Matt Wallace and Australia’s Wade Ormsby.

Padraig Harrington opened with a 77 but, to his credit, he went out for the afternoon round and returned a 68.

Back in 2005 Michael Campbell came through the sectional qualifier at Walton Heath and went on to lift the trophy at Pinehurst.

Karlsson joins Bjorn’s backroom team

Robert Karlsson has been named as Thomas Bjorn’s first vice-captain for next year’s Ryder Cup in France.

The 47-year-old Swede, who played in one match both home and away, has made more than 560 appearances on the European Tour over 28 years.

“He has been one of my closest friends on Tour for many years and, not only that, he is immensely respected by all the players,” said Bjorn.

“Robert will be a vital foil for me over the next 16 months in all aspects of our preparation, including helping analyse statistical information on players, and I know he will give me his honest opinion on everything I ask.”

Life-threatening infection for Boom Baby

Back at the 2010 Ryder Cup Jeff Overton produced possibly the best celebration of winning a hole when he knocked in his 8-iron at Celtic Manor.

Since then he has failed to finish inside the top 50 on the PGA Tour money list but, more recently, he has had to deal with a ‘life-threatening infection’ prompted emergency surgery.

The 34-year-old was having a procedure to alleviate a herniated disc but the infection saw Overton get an extended stay.

His wife posted on Facebook: “After a month in the hospital and acute rehab center, many nights of excruciating pain and uncertainty, two months of IV antibiotics and ho home health care, we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”

Overton has only played once in 2017 where he missed the cut at the Honda Classic, before that he hadn’t played since July 2016.

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Well done, Martin

Finally, a word on Tiger from a fellow former world No. 1…

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