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Morning 9: Swarming crowd “dinged” Koepka’s knee | Phil’s last-minute equipment switch | Texts from Phil’s mom

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Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Swarming crowd “dinged” Koepka’s knee
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…“I’m not happy,” Koepka said. “I don’t know if there’s a right word I can say on here without getting fined, but it hurts a little bit.”
  • “That wasn’t the only thing hurting. As Mickelson and Koepka fought their way through a swarming crowd that had pushed passed security and formed a massive mob in the 18th fairway and around the final green, Koepka said his surgically repaired right knee got “dinged a few times” by people in the crowd…”
  • “I don’t think anybody really understands,” he continued, “There’s five people kind of standing by your knee, you get a little skittish. Like I don’t mind waiting or being in that crowd but getting my — I don’t know, it felt like somebody tried to, I don’t know what the deal was, but it’s what it is. Be putting it in ice today. It feels like s— right now.”
2. Kyler Aubrey’s Phil Mickelson connection
Golfweek’s Julie Williams…”Buried in Kyler Aubrey’s closet is a Masters flag from 2013 with the signature of just one player: Phil Mickelson. When Aubrey met Mickelson and his wife Amy that year at Augusta National, Mickelson immediately bent down to sign Aubrey’s flag. When Mickelson accidentally wrote the wrong name on it – then subsequently scribbled it out – a horrified Amy promised the Aubrey family that her husband would sign a new one and they’d have it shipped.”
  • “Sure enough, the flag showed up a few weeks later to the Aubrey’s home in Statesboro, Georgia. On Sunday at the PGA Championship, Aubrey acquired another piece of Mickelson memorabilia. He and his dad Josh were just inside the ropes by No. 5 green at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course when Mickelson holed out from the sand, securing the birdie that helped him separate himself.”
  • “When we were there we could actually see a perfect view of Phil making the shot and we were just screaming. When Phil made it, he came up to us and said here’s my lucky ball, I want you guys to have it, thank you for coming,” Josh said.”
3. Further reflections on Phil
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”The flabby Phil of 2006 never would have lasted this long. That’s why he shredded his body, developing a six-pack for the first time. That’s why he eliminated foods that left him achy and inflamed, fasting for 36 hours each week. That’s why he stayed hungry by challenging the young guns to money games.”
  • “When he was 20 going to college, he never worked this hard,” said his former college coach-turned-longtime agent Steve Loy.”
  • ….”What kept Mickelson from challenging wasn’t so much a physical limitation but a mental hurdle. For the past few years he’s lamented focus issues that led to uncommitted swings and unforced errors. Recently he began training his brain through 45-hole practice days and longer meditation sessions – breakthroughs that left him encouraged about the future. “Just the ability to quiet my mind and get rid of all the exterior noise,” he said. “I don’t want to get all spiritual, but that’s been the biggest thing for me.”
4. Phil’s last-minute switch
Our piece for PGATour.com…”The 50-year-old’s equipment set up at Kiawah Island included a new Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond driver with just 5.5 degrees of loft, but it was far from smooth sailing for Mickelson’s equipment throughout the week. He had not one, but two, clubs crack at Kiawah Island, including one that became unplayable as he was preparing for his final-round tee time.”
“You can’t swing it as hard as I hit it and not expect them to crack,” Mickelson joked in Sunday’s post-victory press conference. “It happens. In fact, if it doesn’t happen, you start to question the manufacturer, hey, aren’t we making this as hot as we can?”
  • “The first club to go was Mickelson’s 11.5-degree TaylorMade Original One “Mini Driver,” which he uses as a 2-wood. It caved in during the third round.”
  • “Little things happen, but (Saturday), I hit a couple of squirrelly shots on 12 and 13 and the face on my 2-wood flattened,” Mickelson said. “Fortunately, I had a backup head and swapped it out and hit it great today.”
  • “Mickelson’s 2-iron was the next club to go, but it was not as easy of a fix. And it happened minutes before his final-round tee time.”
  • …”In lieu of the 2-iron, Phil decided to swap in a Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero 4-wood with 16.5 degrees of loft.”
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5. Mickelson’s mindset
Daniel Rapaport for Golf Digest…”The first step toward advanced-age greatness is passion. Simple passion. It’s a prerequisite. Without it, none of this is possible. Coming into this week, Phil Mickelson had 44 wins on the PGA Tour, five majors, a beautiful family, a gazillion dollars in career earnings…you get the picture. He did not need this by any stretch. He could’ve easily rode off into the sunset, slowly converting into a ceremonial golfer. Eight starts a year. Play the majors, maybe Torrey, the Memorial, shoot some commercials, call it a career. For normal people, this option grows more enticing with each failure. Lefty had gone 18 straight starts without a top 20; that would crush the spirit of most every 50-year-old, and would you blame them?”
  • “…My desire to play is the same,” he said Sunday night. “I’ve never been driven by exterior things. I’ve always been intrinsically motivated because I love to compete, I love playing the game. I love having opportunities to play against the best at the highest level. That’s what drives me, and I think that that’s what is—the belief that I could still do it inspired me to work harder.”
6. Texts from mom
Chris Bumbaca for USAToday…“They always say Mom knows best, no matter how old you are and even if her advice goes against your own catchphrases.”
  • …”That didn’t stop his mother, Mary, from texting his sister, Tina, some final words of wisdom as Mickelson’s round wound down and he clung to a lead. Mary tried to use Tina as a messenger because she knew “Lefty” wouldn’t be checking his phone much — and probably wouldn’t listen to her in the first place.”
  • “Tina, (text) Philip and tell him to just par in,” she texted. “Don’t hit bombs or activate calves. Just par. They will have to catch him.”
7. A major venue
Brendan Porath for Golf Digest…”The Pete Dye marvel in the low country dunes of South Carolina has given us two hall-of-fame legends hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy and arguably the greatest Ryder Cup of all time. Joining Rory McIlroy’s record-setting win (margin of victory) in 2012 now is Phil Mickelson’s record-setting win (that Julius Boros citation we’ve heard for decades) and an 18th-hole scene that will go down in championship lore. The recent knock on the PGA Championship is that it’s the one men’s major without an “identity,” a malleable term. The images and sound from Sunday at the Ocean Course will certainly strengthen its confidence.”
  • “It was a week that should lend the Ocean Course another shot and barring some future logistical disaster, repeated chances at some set interval. The PGA Championship’s move to a May date has opened up swaths of the country that previously seemed ill-suited for an August major. Kiawah has now hosted in both months with success, but this week proved that late spring is an absolute sweet spot. The temperatures, winds and lack of precipitation were precisely what you want and gave the PGA of America full autonomy of its setup. Some of that is good fortune, but bringing the championship here in May (as opposed to some more water-logged locales during that spring month) put the odds in your favor.”
8. Heck!
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…Rachel Heck paused for a somber moment after she heard the name Victoria Pinckney on the first tee. On Monday, every player in field at the NCAA Championship played in memory of a fallen U.S. soldier. Air Force captain Pinckney, a 27-year-old mom, died in Kyrgyzstan while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom.
  • Heck walked over to the starter to write down Pinckney’s name on her scorecard before she left the tee box. The Stanford freshman held a 5-shot lead going into the final round, but at this moment, her mind was far away from what was on the line. Heck joined the ROTC program at Stanford and hopes to serve in the Air Force Reserve while competing on the LPGA.
9. WOTW: Phil Mickelson’s Rolex Cellini Danaos
Our Brian Knudson on what Phil Mickelson had on his wrist…”I don’t think I need to tell you that Rolex is the largest and most recognized brand in all of the watch world. They have been creating high-end precision timepieces since 1905. When you think of a Rolex you typically think of a sport dive watch like the iconic Submariner, but Rolex also makes a lesser-known dress watch for formal occasions.”
  • “The Rolex Cellini was born in the 1960s by then-director Rene-Paul Jeanneret to be stylish and fashionable. The watches were named after Benvenuto Cellini, an Italian goldsmith, and marketed as being fashion accessories. They carried a lot of retro styling cues from past Rolex watches of the ’20s and ’30s.”
  • “Phil owns a handful of Cellini Danaos models and it was the watch he wore during play for most of his previous major championships. Phil has been seen wearing one with a black dial, a black and white dial, and even a square Cellini called the Prince.”
  • “This Cellini looks to be reference 4233 and is made from solid 18ct white gold. The case is a much smaller 33mm, and I would suspect less in the way when swinging a golf club. The bezel on this watch is large, made from matching white gold, and integrated into the case very smoothly. It almost looks as if the case is just 2 pieces that come together in the middle of the watch.”
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Morning 9: Phil: 1, Father Time: 0 | Details on Phil’s driver | Phil WITB

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Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Phil: 1, Father Time: 0
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…”A year ago, at the 102nd PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, Phil Mickelson didn’t contend but made his way to the CBS broadcast booth, where he traded zingers with Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz. He got off a few good lines. Everyone had fun.”
  • “In between then and now, Mickelson won twice on PGA TOUR Champions; lost weight; sold some Coffee for Wellness; partnered with Tom Brady in The Match 2: Champions for Charity, when the world was desperate for live sports amid the paralyzing opening months of the pandemic. “
  • “Always, he entertained, even if his golf game had cooled. Now, though, he has made history.”
  • “Mickelson, 50, held his nerve, kept his focus, and counter-punched a brutally difficult Ocean Course to a draw Sunday, shooting a final-round 73 to win the PGA Championship.”
2. Mickelsonian milestones
Via Golf Digest…“Became, at age 50, the oldest golfer to win a major, breaking Julius Boros’ previous record of being 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship at Pecan Valley in San Antonio.”
  • “Claimed a sixth major championship, tying him with Nick Faldo and Lee Trevino for 12th on the all-time men’s list.”
  • “Became the fourth player in PGA Tour history to win a tournament in four different decades (joining Sam Snead, Raymond Floyd and Davis Love III).”
  • “Became the lowest player in the World Ranking (115th) to win a major since Shaun Micheel at the 2003 PGA Championship (169th)”
3. Details on Phil’s driver
From my piece…Phil Mickelson’s Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero has been a mainstay of his bag this season, even with the ebb and flow of the rest of his setup.
The five-time major champion’s surprising ascent up the leaderboard at the PGA Championship has been accompanied by a turnaround in his driving performance. And as those who have checked out our Mickelson WITB already know, Lefty has made a switch at the top of the bag that is aiding his impressive driving performance.
  • Specifically designed for Mickelson, the driver has a Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond head that is 6 degrees set at 5.5, and it weighs a very light 189 grams. It’s outfitted with a 47.9-inch Fujikura Ventus Black TX shaft that is tipped two inches.
  • According to Callaway, Mickelson was pursuing both tighter dispersion at cruising and all-out speeds. He needed to be able to work the club both ways and it has to suit his eye at address, or he wasn’t switching out of his Sub Zero.
  • Gerritt Pon, Callaway’s senior club performance analyst, and the man who works most closely with Mickelson, said Phil had initially tested an 8.5-degree head set at 6.5 degrees, but it spun too much. Lefty looks for draw spin under 2,000 rpms and sub-2,400 rpm spin on fades.
  • According to Pon, “When he tested the Epic Speed line there was always something in the mix that didn’t work so we redesigned an Epic Speed head just for Phil with a lower CG and a lower loft (than retail) that supported everything he was looking for.”
4. Low club pro
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…“Ben Cook, who splits time teaching at Yankee Springs Golf Course in Wayland, Michigan and John’s Island Golf Club in Vero Beach, Florida, shot a final-round 74 to finish 4 over and win low club professional at the 103rd PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.”
  • “He made a par putt of just over seven feet to make the cut on the number early Friday evening.”
  • “Without that, it would have – none of this would have happened,” he said. “Very, very blessed and thankful that I made that putt for sure.”
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5. 200-1 odds
David Purdum for ESPN…”Phil Mickelson faced some of the longest odds of his career at the PGA Championship, where he was an underdog to even make the cut.”
  • “But the 50-year-old long-shot lefty defied the odds, captured his sixth major title and delivered a blow to some sportsbooks that they hadn’t felt since Tiger Woods last won the Masters.”
  • “Mickelson closed at 200-1 to win at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill and could be found upward of 300-1 at other sportsbooks. Jeff Sherman, a 20-year bookmaker and golf odds specialist with the SuperBook in Las Vegas, didn’t recall Mickelson ever having longer odds at a major.”
  • “According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Mickelson is the first golfer with odds of 200-1 or longer to win a major since Louis Oosthuizen won the 2010 Open Championship at around 200-1.”
6. Higgs earns Masters spot with strong PGA showing
Max Schreiber for Golf Channel…”In Harry Higgs’ first career major, he played himself into next year’s Masters with a top-4 finish at the 2021 PGA Championship.”
  • “Higgs finished the tournament at 2 under, shooting 70 in the final round. While finishing about 90 minutes before the final results shaped out, Higgs said he’d be rooting for people to make bogeys to ensure he has another chance at a major championship.”
  • “I would assume I would for sure be in Augusta,” Higgs said. “I don’t wish any ill will on anybody, but I would love to finish fourth for sure.”
7. Wie withdraws
Kent Paisley for Golf Digest…”Michelle Wie West withdrew from the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play at Shadow Creek Golf Club in Las Vegas this week, the LPGA confirmed, only days after accepting a sponsor’s invitation.”
  • “By doing so, Wie West will have an additional week to prepare for the U.S. Women’s Open at the Olympic Club in her hometown of San Francisco. In her return to the LPGA Tour for the first time since the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the five-time winner has made three starts and will be looking for her first made cut of the season.”
8. “You stiffed me”
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak…”Koepka has never forgotten the time his dad took him the Masters as a kid. He was about 8 or 9 years old, which would plant the story in the late 1990s, and young Brooks collected around 50 autographs from players that day. Sneaking into the player’s parking lot helped add to the haul.”
  • “I mean, I pretty much got everybody,” He recalled during his pre-tournament press conference at the 2019 Masters.
  • “…I tried to get Phil’s autograph. I was standing by the old range, and somehow found my way kind of right by the parking lot or something like that and asked him for an autograph and he said no, and he turned me down, probably about the only kid Phil’s ever turned down.”
9. Phil Mickelson’s winning WITB
Driver: Callaway Epic Speed Triple Diamond (6 degrees @5.5 , green dot cog)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (47.9 inches)
2-wood: TaylorMade “Original One” Mini Driver (11.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X
4-wood (Sunday only): Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 8 X
Irons: Callaway X Forged UT (16) (Thursday-Saturday), Callaway X21 UT Proto (19 degrees @20.5, 25), Callaway Apex MB ‘21 (small groove) (6-PW)
Shafts: (16) MCA MMT 105 TX, KBS Tour V 125 S+
Wedges: Callaway PM Grind ’19 “Raw” ([email protected], 55-12, 60-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour V 125 S+
Putter: Odyssey Milled Blade “Phil Mickelson”
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour
Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X (Triple Track)
Grips: Golf Pride MCC
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Nifty Fifty: Phil Mickelson makes Kiawah his sixth major title

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On absolutely no one’s radar screen but his own at the beginning of the third week of May, Phil Mickelson defied all odds and overcame all challenges to claim the 2021 PGA Championship. Mickelson first won the PGA in 2005 at Baltusrol in New Jersey. He also owns three Masters titles and the 2013 British Open title. Have I mentioned that Mickelson turned 50 last June and became the oldest winner of any major championship in history?

The week began as most major weeks commence: an unproven young’un atop the leader board. This time, it was Corey Conners, a product of Canada and Kent State University. Conners marked six birdies on his scorecard that day and finished ahead by two at minus-5. He began Friday as poorly as he did well on Thursday, finishing with 75 and ultimately placing 17th. Mickelson nearly played himself out of South Carolina on opening day. He stood plus-4 after six holes but rebounded on the tougher stretch of the course with six birdies and posted 70.

Day two saw Lefty reverse his fortunes. He teed off on the back nine and posted 38. He came alive on the front nine, posting five birdies for another 31, and a 69 on the day. Mickelson’s 139 total was matched by South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, also a British Open champion (2010). Oosthuizen followed a 71 with 68, to earn a spot in the final pairing with the lefthander.

Day three witnessed a near runaway by he of the aged vintage. Mickelson again played the front nine in exquisite fashion. He posted four birdies for 32 on his way out and added a fifth at the 10th hole, to reach 10 strokes under par. Two holes later, he made his first bogey of the round and followed it with a double at 13. He would finish the day at 7-under par, one shot ahead of two-time PGA champion Brooks Koepka.

It’s rare that a golf course ages into technology, but the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island improves in just that fashion. Unlike the TPC course in Sawgrass, that has undergone myriad renovations and alterations over the years, the Ocean Course remains exactly as it was when it held the 1991 Ryder Cup, in its first year of play. With its combination of forced carries, ocean breezes, and flexible setup — and its length, the Ocean Course stands firm against the advances of human strength and technology.

Koepka and Mickelson teed off in Sunday’s final pairing and Mickelson immediately surrendered his one-stroke advantage. Koepka opened with a textbook birdie, while Mickelson showed all the nerves of a teenager on a first date and scribbled bogey on his card. One hole later, fortune again reversed its course. Koepka had owned the Ocean Course par-5 holes all week but would toss away his chance at victory with a double and a bogey on the first two long holes on Sunday. Koepka is normally one of the game’s great drivers of the ball, but he was tentative on Sunday, turning his fade into a tug. The tug did him in on holes two and seven.

What was most enervating for the big Florida man was, his wretched 7 and 6 each followed a birdie. Who can explain that? It was that sort of day on the spit of land called Kiawah Island. Mickelson was having a topsy-turvy start of his own. He didn’t make a par until the fourth, following his opening bogey with birdie-bogey. He then went birdie-bogey-birdie for the five through seven stretch, and expanded his advantage! When he made his fourth birdie of the day, at the tenth hole, he held a five-shot advantage, and ignited the mask-free crowds into a frenzy of adulation and fandom.

Mickelson’s sixth major title was his first with younger brother Tim on the bag. As the pair marched toward destiny’s embrace, it was easy to see the same emotion spread across each brother’s face. The younger one wanting to serve the older one with accurate numbers and proper support; the older one wanting to execute the strategy planned out with the younger one’s help.

As the holes waned, Louis Oosthuizen reached minus-4 and closed to within two of Mickelson’s lead. The South African golfer needed at least one birdie on the closing pair, but was unable to do better than pars. Koepka had birdies at 15 and 16 and, like Louis, needed one more to make Phil think and squeeze harder, but it was not to be. Mickelson made safe bogey at 17 and safe par at 18, and won by two.

It’s ironic that Mickelson reclaimed his place at the top of the game as well as a likely spot on the USA Ryder Cup side in Wisconsin, in the year that Tiger Woods once again racked himself up with self-inflicted injury. If anything will motivate the great one to rebound, it’s a Mickelson victory. So cheers to you, Mr. Mickelson. You’ve given us a wonderful May and an even better 2021 and 2022 to come.

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Five things we learned: Saturday at the PGA

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When his lead reached a quintet of strokes after nine holes on Saturday, I was desperately searching for five different words that began with the voiceless labi0dental fricative phoneme /f/ to use to describe Phil Mickelson’s day-three. Why bother writing about anyone else if Lefty was going to run away with the tournament the day before it ended?

1. What might have been

After carving birdie on half of his first 10 holes, Mickelson became the first competitor to reach double digits under par this tournament. Three hours later, he had given back three strokes and barely kept a hold on the lead. By day’s end, he was one stroke in front of Brooks Koepka and had allowed a host of players back into contention. Had Mickelson been able to rocksteady to the clubhouse at 10 under, he would have compelled everyone to go for broke on Sunday.

2. The five-shot addendum

It is incredibly difficult to come back from more than five shots in the final round of the major championship. So many sticks have to fall into place: the leader has to crumble, the chasers have to play just not well enough to win, and the long shot hast to play the round of his life. If we hold to the five-shot addendum, nine golfers have a chance at winning the 2021 PGA Championship on Sunday. Let’s have a look at them and find out who we pick to win tomorrow.

3. Bryson, Joaquin, and Gary

You have two recent U.S. Open champions and one of the rising stars in the game in this ballot. DeChambeau’s length won’t help him as much as at other courses with so much trouble lurking.  Woodland has been adrift since winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, although that one sort of came out of nowhere. Difference here is, he’s coming from behind. Of the three, the young Chilean is our bet to take a run at the title on Sunday.

4. Branden, Kevin, and Christian

This is the trio with everything to gain and nothing to lose. Not a single major title among the three, with Grace coming closest at the U.S. Open in 2015 at Chambers Bay. Streelman is thrilled to even be here and is the type of one-off winner that the PGA Championship has a penchant for identifying. Bezuidenhout has a lot of upside, but his first time in true contention in a major suggests that he will spend most of the day sorting his emotions. The heat of the moment will be too strong for two-thirds of this grouping, but if we had to pick one, it would be Grace.

5. Louis, Brooks, and Phil

Each member of this trio has a major championship, and Koepka and Mickelson each has four or more. It seems impossible that one of them will not step up on Sunday and grab the Wanamaker trophy by both handles. Koepka is the guy we’d pick at any other time, but is the repaired knee reliable? Phil is the veteran in the group, and normally that would count for much, but is he too veteran? We’ll see. Finally, we have Louis. Eleven years removed from his win at St. Andrews, will the scar tissue that developed since be too restrictive? Perhaps.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, much like Augusta National, simply will not allow someone to take an early lead and hold on for a victory. The champion will play 18 incredible holes Sunday, but who will it be?

Branden Grace. Why would we pick a likely favorite?

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