Ahead of his PGA Tour Champions title defense, Phil Mickelson says driving accuracy is irrelevant: 'I look at longest'

"If you want to look at stuff that's irrelevant, have at it."

Ahead of his PGA Tour Champions title defense, Phil Mickelson says driving accuracy is irrelevant: 'I look at longest'

RICHMOND, Va. — Do you think driving accuracy is important? Phil Mickelson sure doesn’t.

When the 51-year-old Lefty won the Constellation Furyk and Friends earlier this month for his third PGA Tour Champions win in just his fourth start (Fred Couples is the only other player to do so in 2010), he was 81st in driving accuracy.

“I look at longest, like I try to hit it the farthest out here and I was No. 1 in driving distance. That’s the way I look at it,” said Mickelson after his Thursday pro-am ahead of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, the first of three legs in the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs. “If you want to look at stuff that’s irrelevant, have at it. What I’m looking at is distance, I want to hit it, I want to fly it 305 and try to – because I’m a really good wedge player, so if I get wedges in my hand, I’m going to be tough to beat.”

And that’s putting it lightly. Back at Country Club of Virginia’s James River course this week to defend his victory at the 2020 Dominion, Mickelson has a chance to become the first player to win four of his first five starts on the senior circuit. Even though it’s the same course, Mickelson noted how different it’s playing this week compared to last year with firm and fast greens.

“I think from last year I’m able to take some of the subtleties and nuances of the golf course and have a better knowledge of where I want to be, where I don’t want to be and how I can play it aggressively,” said Mickelson. “So knowing those nuances is important. I think that if the course played like this last year, I don’t think I would have ended up winning, because you really need to know a lot of the subtleties and you could hit good shots and be in a bad spot if you didn’t know the golf course.”

But it won’t be without a little competition. The top-72 players from the Schwab Cup points list qualified for this week’s event, including three past champions at CCV: Miguel Angel Jimenez (2019), Woody Austin (2018), and Bernhard Langer (2017). Langer currently sits first in the standings and is looking for his record sixth Charles Schwab Cup.

“There are a lot of really good players that are playing some really good golf. What you don’t see is how hard they work off the golf course, because as we all get older, to maintain flexibility, speed, strength, all those things, it’s a lot of extra work,” explained Mickelson. “Obviously Bernhard Langer’s the gold standard, right? That man at 64, what he’s been doing is incredible. That’s the guy to look up to to elongate your career, have a great quality of life.”

Langer, winner of 41 Champions tour events and 11 senior majors, had glowing things to say about all the new “young” players on the tour on Tuesday, especially Mickelson. The man to beat for the last decade and a half noted how eager the last few classes of PGA Tour Champions rookies have been, citing their realization that the senior tour is a second chance to compete at a high level. All that said, Mickelson is enjoying his time but isn’t ready to give the Champions tour his full attention.

“I’m using this as an opportunity to have fun, to be around people that I know, guys that I know. I’m using it as a chance to be competitive but in an environment that doesn’t beat you up,” said Mickelson. “I think it’s underrated how difficult the courses on Tour set up, how tough the pin placements are and you’re really not able to get away with a miss because the pins are so close to the edges. If you short-side yourself, you can’t get up and down.

“I like being able to play aggressive, so it lets me have fun and play the way I like to play out here, and then I try to take that back to when I play on the regular tour and try to implement that type of play. But I always have to dial it back on the regular tour and be more cautious, play to more center of the greens, have more 20-, 30-footers, because if you short-side yourself there, they’re so close to the edges, you can’t get up and down.”

The 45-time winner on the “regular tour” said he’ll most likely play the season-finale Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix, but he’s unsure about next week’s stop in Florida for the TimberTech Championship.

“I feel like I’m playing a lot better than I have throughout the year, except for the PGA,” said Lefty with a laugh, “and I would like to test myself on the regular tour. So if there’s an event I could play, it might be the week of Boca, it might be the one down in Mexico. I’m not sure what exactly I’ll do, but I very well may go to Boca, we’ll see. That’s the only one I’m undecided on.”

Source : Golf Week More   

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Who's that moonlighting in the Golf Channel booth at Zozo Championship? Why, yes, it was Rickie Fowler, and he won't be the only one

At the PGA Tour stop in Japan, some pros are heading to the broadcast booth after their rounds.

Who's that moonlighting in the Golf Channel booth at Zozo Championship? Why, yes, it was Rickie Fowler, and he won't be the only one

Forget the driving range. This week, at the Zozo Championship in Japan, some PGA Tour pros are heading to the broadcast booth after their rounds to don the headset.

Rickie Fowler, fresh off shooting an even-par 70 that included a triple-bogey at the par-4 17th  hole, joined Golf Channel’s George Savaricas in the 18th-hole tower and provided commentary. As Savaricas tweeted out, the plan is for a different player to sit in and do their best Johnny Miller impression each day.

As Fowler joined the telecast, the coverage shifted to the 17th hole with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama on the tee.

“Well, we’re coming right back to where my hiccup was today,” Fowler said.

“The scene of the crime,” Savaricas added, “of course we had to start with 17, of all of the holes that we had to have Rickie break down.”

When Matsuyama found the fairway, Fowler cracked, “Yeah, that might have saved me a few shots right there.”

The player takeover doesn’t mean lead analysts Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger will be out of a job any time soon. Due to Japan’s extreme COVID-19 travel restrictions, Golf Channel sent a smaller team to the Zozo. Dom Boulet, who commentates regularly in Asia, and Alison Whitaker, who is a regular contributor of European Tour and Ladies European Tour broadcast coverage, are part of the on-air team this week.

“This opportunity presented itself as a creative solution and potential to enhance the telecast,” said Jamie Palatini, Golf Channel’s manager of communications.

Sources say that Charley Hoffman could be moonlighting in the booth following his second round but that is subject to change. In any event, it’s something different to the late-night broadcasts – what my colleague Julie Williams has dubbed “insomnia golf” – and perhaps it could become a regular thing down the road.

Here are some of Fowler’s insights:

Fowler on playing in Japan and his Japanese ties: “I love Japan. …spending the amount of time I did with my grandpa growing up. … Japanese culture is very much a part of how I grew up and a part of the family. I love Japan and I love the culture, I love the food.”

Fowler on upcoming birth of his and wife Allison’s first child due in November: “Things are about to get very real. The room is pretty much ready to go, Allison has been leading the ship there. … she’s running the show and we’re excited, but it’s going to be very different. No names yet, we’re working on it. Our end goal is to go in with two or three potentials and make a game-time decision.”

Fowler on working with John Tillery and recently visiting with his former swing coach, Butch Harmon: “Obviously Butch and I have a great relationship. Working through the kind of middle part of my career together, a lot of good things. And John Tillery and I have been together the last couple of years. It’s been a long road of not so good golf, but there was light at the end of the tunnel at times, and over the last six weeks before going to Vegas, I feel like we kind of really turned the corner and had some good stuff. So, I was excited to just go hit balls with Butch to just kind of show him what we had and what was happening, and ultimately, just to have him say, ‘Good job, keep it going.’ And that’s basically what he did. … So kind of the stamp of approval. … It’s been a fun ride at times, rough at others, but we’re definitely in a better spot.”

Zozo Championship 2021

Rickie Fowler hits his tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Zozo Championship at the Narashino Country Club in Inzai, Chiba prefecture on October 21, 2021. Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Fowler on the course at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club: “The golf course is great. It’s a very fair test. There’s some holes out there that are just tough, proper golf holes, 17 being one of them. You’ve got to drive it in the fairway and especially today with that pin tucked over on the right. You get plenty of scoreable clubs in your hands, but the defense here really are a couple of tough par fours and then there’s the greens. You can’t see it on TV – TV just doesn’t do it justice – there’s a lot of movement and if you get above the hole, you’ve got to be very careful.”

Source : Golf Week More   

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