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19th Hole

Phil Mickelson ‘not sold’ on armlock putting grip after shaky round one

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If there has been one constant through Phil Mickelson’s 30-plus-year professional golf career, it’s that he has never been afraid of tinkering.

Even at the tender age of 51, the recent PGA Championship winner was spotted on the practice green this week experimenting with a different putting style. Sure enough, in round one of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Mickelson tested out the infamous armlock putting grip.

Prior to Thursday’s round, Mickelson was seen working with professional putting coach Derek Uyeda, who also works with Xander Schauffele, amongst others.

Many may remember Xander Schauffele’s failed armlock experiment earlier this year. Schauffele struggled with the armlock during the U.S. Open, and then made a switch after his second round of the Scottish Open to his normal putting grip. Only two starts later, he won an Olympic Gold Medal.

Per Steve DiMeglio of USA Today and Golfweek, Mickelson commented:”When you’re trying to get better, you have to take risks. And you have to try it out in competition.”

It is perfectly understandable that the 45-time PGA Tour winner would be searching for answers, as he has failed to finish inside the top-60 of a tournament in five starts since winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

Similar to Schauffele however, the armlock experiment got off to a rocky start.

Mickelson lost 1.3 strokes putting on Thursday, ranking 54th out of 66 players in the field. After the round, Mickelson commented (again per Steve DiMeglio of USA Today and Golfweek)

“I’m not sold on it. I haven’t tried it out long enough to talk about it. I’m just trying to figure it out, the things I like about it and the things I don’t.”

The six-time major champion was seen grinding on the putting green with Uyeda for nearly two hours after the completion of his first round. It remains to be seen what grip Mickelson will employ for his second round.

Mickelson tees off at 11:21 a.m. eastern time, along with Matthew Fitzpatrick and Adam Scott.

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19th Hole

Symetra Tour pro’s clubs stolen, South Bend community rallies around her

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Symetra Tour pro, Natalie Sheary, was the victim of a particularly unlikely misfortune when her clubs were stolen out of the back of her car during the Four Winds Invitational in South Bend, Indiana.

As first reported by GolfWeek’s Beth Ann Nichols, Sheary had left her clubs in the back of her Nissan Armada during a late dinner. The next morning, she discovered that her window had been smashed and her clubs and tour bag were gone.

Per the report, first, Sheary called her insurance company, State Farm, who told her to buy replacement clubs and save all the receipts. Callaway was unable to get her anything in time, but Edel Golf created and shipped her three wedges overnight. Sheary was forced to to cobble together the rest of her set through Dick’s Sporting Goods and extra clubs from other generous Symetra Tour pros. Sheary received a driver from UPS just eight minutes before her tee time.

While Sheary unfortunately missed the cut, it was an admirable showing from the South Bend community. Members of the South Bend Country Club brought her extra clubs to the course, a local pawn shop owner sold her replacements, and fellow Symetra players helped her duct tape the back window of her car with sheets of black plastic. She was able to park her car inside a volunteer during the tournament, and SafeLite arranged to fix her window.

Life on the Symetra Tour is not easy, and Sheary has used GoFundMe to help pay for Q-School and the all the costs of travel. On top of this, Sheary also gives lessons and caddies during the offseason. While this served as another obstacle for the 32-year old Wake Forest grad, Sheary remained optimistic. “I was able to leave with a smile on my face,” Sheary said of her tumultuous experience at the Four Winds Invitational.

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19th Hole

Sergio Garcia’s wife fires warning to ’embarrassing’ U.S. Ryder Cup fans

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The Ryder Cup is often a highly charged competition, but Sergio Garcia’s American wife, Angela Akins, has fired a warning at those fans who cross the line at Whistling Straits this weekend.

Speaking to CNN, Akins revealed that back in 2016, she took umbrage with a group of fans who were directing “horrible” things at her husband:

“It went too far at Hazeltine when I was following Sergio, and I ended up having a go at a group of guys who were barracking him. I said to them: ‘I’m here supporting the European team, I’m an American, and you’re embarrassing me’. The people around us joined in and said; ‘Yeah you’re embarrassing us too!”

Akins continued

“I said to the guys, ‘I want to see American fans being better than that,’ and they said okay, then later on they saw me. They’d figured out who I was, and they came over and gave me a hug and apologized.”

The American will be cheering on the European side once again this week at Whistling Straits and is hoping that the crowd leaves the insults at the door: “I understand cheering for your team but let’s leave the insults out.”

Akins’ husband, Sergio Garcia, is the record points scorer in the biennial competition (25.5 points) and will be looking to add to that total when the event gets underway this Friday.

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19th Hole

Steve Stricker urges fans to not ‘cross the line’ at Ryder Cup

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Rewind back to Hazeltine in 2016, the last time the Ryder Cup was on American soil, and Rory McIlroy was forced to ask if a fan could be removed for his aggressive and abusive behavior.

U.S. Captain Steve Stricker commented to the media this morning that he was hoping for a more respectful performance from the U.S. patrons. “It’s a Ryder Cup. These fans have been pent up for a long time and they’re going to come out and get behind their team. It’s going to be loud, and we expect it to be loud, but again, we ask for people not to cross that line and be respectful of both sides.”

According to Ian Poulter, a veteran European Team member and Ryder Cup villain, “The U.S. fans have been brilliant so far. They’re wishing me well. Not too well, but they’re wishing me well, which is quite nice. That hasn’t always been the case.”

So far so good, but lest we forget, it’s still only Wednesday. The 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup kicks off on Friday, September 24th at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin.

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