By PGATOUR.COM Staff
John Senden, Rhein Gibson and Bryden Macpherson qualified for the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool via their finishes at the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in the new Open Qualifying Series.
The Australian trio earned its way to the Open Championship by being the top three finishers who were not yet exempt to Royal Liverpool. Senden finished third at the Australian Open, seven shots behind winner Rory McIlroy, while Gibson and Macpherson tied for fourth, another two shots back.
Senden, winner of the 2006 John Deere Classic, shot a final-round 66 on Sunday to earn his eighth Open Championship appearance. He posted his best Open finish in 2012, finishing 34th at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Macpherson, 23, played the 2011 Open Championship as an amateur after winning that year's British Amateur. He missed the cut by a shot. The former University of Georgia golfer played seven Web.com Tour events in 2013, making one cut.
This is the first major championship that Gibson, 29, has qualified for. He gained fame when he shot 55 in a casual round in Oklahoma in 2012.
The Open Qualifying Series is making its debut with 14 events in nine countries on five continents that allow players on the world’s leading tours the opportunity to qualify for The Open Championship.
Phil Mickelson will ring the closing bell Friday at the New York Stock Exchange, where he is on hand to promote awareness about the importance of science and technology in education.
It's technology, Mickelson said, that was integral to his first career Open Championship win and fifth career major.
"Math and science is huge for me and my success," Mickelson said on CNBC's Squawk on the Street. "Winning this championship, I look at the one thing that has really changed my game and it's been the 3 wood that I have been using.
"I'm a high-spin player and this 3 wood takes off half the spin that I was putting on it, which gets the ball boring through air. Consequently, I hit the two best 3 woods of my life on the 17th hole to win."
For the ninth straight year, Mickelson is hosting an academy at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City for third, fourth and fifth grade math and science teachers to help keeping young students motivated in these key educational fields.Mickelson added that science, engineering and technology has played a "big part" in golf and his own success. Said Mickelson: "I want to see kids enjoy it too and be motivated."
Phil Mickelson won The Open Championship hitting a 3-wood off the tee.
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, TOUR Academies
For the second straight major championship, Phil Mickelson opted to leave his driver at home. And after his results at Merion (T2nd) and then Muirfield (1st) last week, it’s a wonder if we’ll ever see Lefty hitting driver again.
More and more players on the PGA TOUR are making the switch to a 3-wood off the tee, especially on tighter, more demanding layouts such as Muirfield and Merion, site of June’s U.S. Open Championship. Besides being more versatile and accurate than a driver, the 3-wood is also designed to accommodate a steeper angle of attack, which is the primary reason why Mickelson relies on it so heavily. He’s still able to tee the ball low and make his normal, descending swing without having to change his approach strictly for one club, which can make the transition to the rest of his clubs more difficult.
According to statistics from Trackman, the average PGA TOUR player hits slightly down on the ball about 1 degree with the driver. The TOUR average for a 3-wood is nearly 3 degrees down, which is the biggest jump between any two clubs in the bag, and is probably more in line with Mickelson’s attack angle. With his new 3-wood (bent to 12 degrees), he doesn’t have to level out his angle of approach or hit slightly up on it, which he’d have to do with the driver to maximize his distance. He can still tee the ball low, hit down on it with a forward leaning club shaft and get good distance because the design of the 3-wood is to produce a lower-spinning ball and stronger, more piercing trajectory. The ball tends to roll out a lot more, which was the perfect recipe for Muirfield’s firm, baked-out fairways.
At Muirfield, Mickelson hit 60.7 percent of his fairways (more than 4-1/2 percentage points higher than his yearly average and 2-1/2 percentage points better than the rest of the field at Muirfield) and, for the most part, kept himself out of trouble off the tee. Moreover, he hit what he described as “two of the best 3-woods” of his career on the par-5, 575-yard 17th hole on Sunday, essentially closing the deal when his second shot from the fairway ran up onto the green to within 25 feet of the hole, leaving him with an easy two-putt birdie that stretched his lead to two shots.
3-Wood or Driver?
Do you know your attack angle? If you don’t, I’d recommend getting on a launch monitor like Trackman the next time you’re in the market for a new driving club. Or you could check the depth of your divots. If you’re someone who takes deep, pork chop-sized divots with your mid-irons, then you probably have a steep angle of attack. If you’re a course superintendent’s dream and you barely disturb the grass on your iron shots, or you tend to hit a lot of thin irons, then you’re attack angle is likely very shallow. In the latter instance, you can continue to tee the ball up high and hit driver, but if you’re too steep, you have two options: Either you can try to shallow out your angle of attack with your driver, which requires flattening out your swing; or you can continue to tee the ball low and hit your 3-wood, just bumping the turf underneath the ball. If you really want to sting it like Mickelson, then lean the shaft forward, which will create a lower, more penetrating ball flight.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction for the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, go to www.touracademy.com. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, download the new free TOURCaddie App for iPhone and iPad users at the App Store or www.AppStore.com/PGATOURCaddie. As an in-app upgrade for $9.99, you gain immediate access to more than 175 on-course tips.
Phil Mickelson put the past behind him to win the Claret Jug at Muirfield. (Carr/Getty Images)
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
After being so close at Merion and not winning the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson should have been deflated. Mickelson should have had a difficult time bouncing back from his sixth runner-up finish and another disappointment at the U.S. Open. As Mickelson stated, “losing is such a big part of golf. It could have easily gone south”.
But Mickelson did the opposite. Instead of getting down and rejected, he mentioned that he used that disappointment as a springboard for his motivation. The loss at the U.S. Open pushed him to practice harder on his game.
Mickelson's resiliency paid off. In a month’s time he played one of the best final rounds of his career to capture the Claret Jug at Muirfield and win The Open Championship.
Golf is full of ups and downs during a round, as well as during a season. To play your best golf, you must be resilient like Mickelson and stay motivated when times get difficult.
Psychologists have discovered that golfers who are resilient see failure as within their control. Golfers who are resilient explain their failures using what is known as the TUF strategy. Resilient golfers see their failures as temporary, unique and flexible.
The following examples illustrate how you can become more resilient in your golf and bounce back from a downward turn in your game:
1. See your bad days on the course as temporary. Tell yourself that you did not have it today. But tomorrow is another day, and your game will turn around. The emphasis is to believe that your bad golfing days are not permanent.
2. See your bad rounds as unique. Some courses will not match up well with your game. Others will. See those bad rounds as being specific for that course. The emphasis here is to believe you will play well on other courses in the future.
3. See your bad rounds as flexible and within your control. Like Mickelson did, you should believe that all you need to start playing better is to practice harder. Or, you may want to work a tad more on your short game. The emphasis here is to believe that a change to a better game is within your control.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the TOUR” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at drgreggsteinberg.com.
Adam Scott bogeyed Nos. 13-16 to finish four shots behind Phil Mickelson (Franklin/Getty Images)
For the second consecutive year, a sloppy finish kept Adam Scott from winning The Open Championship. At least this time, Scott can come home to the Green Jacket.
Starting at No. 7, Scott made four birdies in a five-hole stretch (Nos. 7-9, 11). The 4-foot birdie putt at No. 11 gave him the lead. He followed with four consecutive bogeys at Nos. 13-16, though. Scott was trying to join an exclusive list of players who have won a Green Jacket and Claret Jug in the same year. He hit his tee shot on the par-3 13th well right of the green, but hit a great chip to 7 feet. He missed the par putt, though. A lengthy birdie putt on the final hole gave him a final-round 72 and 1-over 285 total, four back of winner Phil Mickelson.
"I was just trying to compose myself by 15, after a couple of bogeys," Scott said. “You've got to just shake that off. But I really overthought everything on 15, and had to back off a putt there, mid-stroke. … And at that point, after that one, it was deflation, really, because I could see the scoreboard and your chances at dashed. You're going to have to finish birdie, eagle, birdie, at that point. Yeah, after 16 I just wanted to stop making bogeys, to be honest with you.”
At last year’s Open Championship, Scott was trying to win his first major when he bogeyed the final four holes to finish one shot behind Ernie Els.
“I let a great chance slip, I felt, during the middle of the round and that's disappointing,” Scott said. “I'm happy I put myself in chance to -- my game is in great shape, that's the good thing to take from it. But I didn't get to the number that Phil finished on, but I was right there. Had I played a little more solid in the middle of that back nine, I could have had a chance coming in.”
Tiger Woods shot 74 on Sunday to finish five shots behind Phil Mickelson. (Franklin/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods contended at another major championship, but once again couldn’t break par on the weekend and failed to win his 15th major. Woods shot a final-round 74 at Muirfield to finish at 2-over 286, five shots behind winner Phil Mickelson. Woods started the final round at 1 under par, two shots back of leader Lee Westwood.
“I had a hard time adjusting to the speeds,” Woods said. “They were much slower today, much softer. I don't think I got too many putts to the hole today.”
Woods hasn’t broken 70 on the weekend at a major since the final round of the 2011 Masters. He shot 4-over 146 (72-74) at Muirfield.
Woods bogeyed three of his first six holes Sunday, then made a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole to make the turn in 2-over 38. He bogeyed the next two holes to reach 4 over for the round, then birdied Nos. 12 and 14, hitting his approach shot to 1 foot on the latter hole. That put him at 2 over for the round and 1 over for the championship. He could only manage one bogey (at No. 15) and three pars on the way in, though.
He tried to take positives from another close call at a major, though. He’s finished 11th or better in four of his past five majors.
“I'm very pleased with the way I'm playing, there's no doubt,” Woods said. “I'm right there and I hit a ton of good shots this week, and the only thing that I would look back on this week is I just never got the speed after the first day, because it progressively got slower. I thought today they would be faster, given it's Sunday, and I thought they would let it go, but they actually got it even softer.”
Lee Westwood has eight top-three finishes in majors since 2008. (Carr/Getty Images)
Lee Westwood moved to Florida before this season to aid his quest for his first major championship. He gave himself a great chance to claim that first title at a Grand Slam event, but couldn’t convert a two-shot lead after 54 holes into a victory.
He shot 4-over 75 on Sunday instead, finishing in third place with Ian Poulter and Adam Scott at 1-over 285, four shots behind winner Phil Mickelson.
"I'm not too disappointed," Westwood said. "I don't really get disappointed with golf anymore."
Westwood, 40, now has eight top-three finishes in 62 majors, all since 2008, when he finished a shot outside the Tiger Woods-Rocco Mediate playoff at Torrey Pines. Westwood, a former world No. 1, recently enlisted former Open Championship winner Ian Baker-Finch as a putting adviser and Sean Foley as a swing instructor.
“I putted lovely this week. I made my fair share,” Westwood said. “So there was a lot of positives to take out. I didn't really feel like I had my "A" game. I didn't feel like I was striking the ball well. I was amazed to be in the lead going into the fourth round, because every time I turned into the wind I was really struggling.
Westwood made his only birdie of the final round at the par-5 fifth hole, which he played 5 under for the week. He followed with bogeys at Nos. 7, 8, 13 and 16, though. He had plugged lies in bunkers on Nos. 7-9, resulting in two bogeys and a par at the reachable par-5 ninth hole.
“I didn't really play well enough today,” Westwood said. “I didn't play badly, but I didn't play great. It's a tough golf course, and you've got to have your ‘A’ game. I missed a few shots out there.”
Westwood also held the 54-hole lead at the 2010 Masters, which Mickelson won. Westwood shot 71 to finish three shots back.
"I wouldn't have done anything different for breakfast, or carried three markers in the pocket instead of two," Westwood said. "I never second-guess myself. So there's no point in doing it, you just do what feels right at the time."
Mickelson captured his first Claret Jug Sunday at Muirfield. (Carr/Getty Images)
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Bounces. They tend to even out over the course of a tournament.
At the 16th hole, Phil Mickelson hit what he called “a perfect 6 iron.” The ball landed 20 feet from the cup and then rolled back another 20 yards off the green. That same 6 iron on the 18th could have, maybe should have, bounced into a greenside bunker. Instead, it kicked onto the green and Mickelson made birdie.
What makes Mickelson such a great champion is his ability to stay emotionally level while coping with the good and bad bounces.
And to watch Mickelson birdie the final hole, walk off the green in tears with his caddie Jim Mackay and then embrace his family was one of the great moments of the golf season.
Strategy: Mickelson changed his approach at The Open Championship a couple years ago. He’s always had the ability to overpower a golf course by cutting a corner or carrying a bunker. The strategy frequently left him with bad angles but Mickelson could hit a 60-degree wedge and still make birdie. That doesn’t work at the Open. Mickelson would carry a bunker and the ball would roll through the fairway into a bad lie and leave an impossible angle into the green. This week, he didn't even carry a driver. Instead, Mickelson showed great restraint off the tee, sacrificing distance for the proper angle into the green.
Golf shot: Everyone will point to Mickelson’s approach into the 18th leading to birdie or perhaps his pair of 3-woods into the 577- yard 17th. I thought his par at the 16th was just as critical. A good tee shot was followed by a bad bounce and a chip to 10 feet but Mickelson made that par putt. The birdies at 17 and 18 may have won the tournament but Mickelson’s par at 16 allowed him to keep momentum, making those birdies possible.
Driving: What a curious tournament for Lee Westwood. He has struggled with his putting this year (he ranked 154th in strokes gained-putting on the PGA TOUR coming into the week). Meanwhile, Westwood has always been a great driver of the ball (he ranked 32nd in fairways hit). It was just the opposite this week. Westwood struggled with ballstriking and did not hit a fairway until No. 11 on Sunday. His putting was best in the tournament until the final round when a lack of accuracy, and perhaps pressure, led to misses.
Speed: Tiger Woods has struggled with the speed of the greens in his last three tournaments going back to the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. He never seemed comfortable and three-putted twice in the first five holes. Woods said the speed of the greens got progressively slower as the tournament progressed, which is very unusual at a major championship. On the positive side, Woods appears healthy. He arrived at Muirfield with question marks concerning his elbow but the joint never seemed to affect his play. I do wonder if it affected his preparation for the tournament.
Conditions: The golf course changed dramatically from morning to afternoon. The combination of wind and sun turned Muirfield into a very difficult golf course every afternoon as the grass dried and the turf firmed. Greens received watering during the night but that moisture evaporated by Noon.
Setup: There was a great deal of both adjustment and guesswork required this week and that included R&A Officials who admitted some hole locations on Thursday were questionable. The course became even faster than what was anticipated and holes cut on the very edge of ridges became very difficult. You continually saw players grinding over 15 footers on Thursday, just trying to two-putt. Hole locations throughout the final three rounds were adjusted.
Fatigue: Players walked off the golf course this week absolutely exhausted. It wasn’t the 6-mile walk that had players tired, it was the mental concentration. The mental fatigue factor was off the charts as players coped with a firm, fast golf course and the pressure of a major championship. Muirfield was a very thorough examination.
Luck: British links courses are notorious for strange bounces. Drives pounded into the middle of the fairway can catch a mound and ricochet into the rough. Of all the courses in the Open rotation, Muirfield might be the most fair. Bunkers are not in the center of the fairway and the mounding is minimal. There will always be a “luck factor” involved in golf. Some balls hit into the rough and are tough to even find, while others are very playable. You can’t legislate for that discrepancy. The key is for the player to keep his emotions level and minimize his frustrations.
Preparation: Each player has his own way of preparing for a championship. Zach Johnson likes to play the week before competition, some like to prepare with practice rounds on-site, while others work on their games at home. It was an advantage for players to arrive early at Muirfield because they got to experience different conditions. The wind shifted 180 degrees from Thursday to Friday and many players struggled with the change of direction.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
Mickelson birdied the 18th to cap a round of 66 Sunday at Muirfield. (Lyons/Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson won his fifth career major and first Open Championship Sunday at Muirfield, matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 66 that included four birdies over his final six holes.
"This is such an accomplishment for me," said Mickelson, who also recorded his lowest career final round in a major. "I never knew if I'd be able to develop the game and the shots to play links golf effectively. To play what is arguably the best round of my career, to putt the way I putted, to shoot the round of my life, it just feels amazing to win the claret jug."
Mickelson was the lone player under par for the week at 3-under 281. Henrik Stenson finished second three strokes back.
The victory gives Mickelson three legs of the career grand slam and is his second in as many weeks after his victory at the Scottish Open last week. He also earns 600 FedExCup points with the win.
Others with five career majors include Byron Nelson, Seve Ballesteros, James Braid, J.H. Taylor, Peter Thomson and now Mickelson.
Prior to this year, Mickelson had just two top 10s in 19 career appearances in the Open with his best finish a runner-up in 2011.
This year he was one better thanks to a spectacular final round.
Mickelson went out in 2 under, making two birdies and no bogeys before a hiccup on the 10th.
Meanwhile, overnight leader Lee Westwood had staked as much a three-stroke lead over the field Sunday only to falter with four bogeys in a nine-hole stretch in the middle of his round.
Westwood finished four shots back in a tie for third after a 75, along with Adam Scott and Ian Poulter, all of whom stumbled at one point or another on Sunday.
The lefthander played his final eight holes in 4 under with no bogeys, beginning with an 8-footer for birdie on the 13th to get back to even par for the week.
One hole later he drained a 20-footer for another birdie before reaching the par-5 17th in two to set up yet another.
On the 18th, his approach landed 10 feet from the hole to set up one last birdie, after which he raised his arms skyward.
Mickelson went off to hug his wife and kids while his caddie broke down in tears.
Six times a runner-up at the U.S. Open -- including this year -- golf's oldest major championship was Mickelson's.
"This is a day I'll remember my entire life," Mickelson said. "It was one of the best rounds of golf I've ever played."
Henrik Stenson's impressive ballstriking at Muirfield led him to his best finish in a major. Stenson shot a final-round 70 to finish in second place at even-par 284, three shots behind winner Phil Mickelson. Stenson shot three 70s this week and a third-round 74. He previously had finished third in two Open Championships (2008, 2010).
He led the field in both driving accuracy (45 of 56, 80.4 percent) and greens in regulation (57 of 72, 79.2 percent). Stenson got off to a hot start Sunday, making birdies at Nos. 1 and 3 to reach 1 under par. He made four consecutive pars before making bogey at No. 8 and a birdie at the par-5 ninth. He bogeyed Nos. 12 and 13 before a birdie at the par-5 17th.
Stenson, the 2009 THE PLAYERS Championship winner, was coming off a third-place finish at last week's Scottish Open. The runner-up finish at Muirfield was his fourth top-10 in 12 PGA TOUR starts this year. He's finished no worse than 21st in the year's first three majors, tying for 18th at the Masters and 21st at the U.S. Open. He also finished fifth at this year's THE PLAYERS Championship.