Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

April 10, 2013

Lefty's nervous heading into Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. — One of the last golfers you'd expect to feel anxious heading into the Masters is three-time champion Phil Mickelson.

Yet, the creature of habit is slightly out of sorts after a change to his usual routine at the year's first major, and it's left Lefty a bit apprehensive about his first tee shot Thursday when the Masters starts.

''I'm nervous because I haven't been in competition since the Sunday of the Houston Open,'' Mickelson said Tuesday. ''It will be 10, 11 days, I guess, and that's what I'm nervous about.''

Mickelson's pre-game prep for the Masters has been rock-solid in recent years: Play in Houston and leave in a good, competitive frame of mind coming into Augusta National. In this year's PGA Tour schedule, though, the last Masters tuneup came in San Antonio at the Valero Texas Open on a layout Mickelson said was too narrow and too windy to help him at wide-open Augusta National so he arrived here this past weekend to finish off his prep work.

Mickelson worked on his putting and short-game ''because that's so important,'' he said.

He even found time to squeeze in a round with one of Augusta National's newest members, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore became the club's first two female members.

Mickelson didn't want to re-open Augusta National's former males-only heritage, saying he doesn't enjoy the politics that sometimes come with golf.

''I tried that earlier in the year,'' he said. ''It didn't go so well, so I'm good.''

In January, Mickelson created a stir by saying new federal and state tax rates kept him from being part of the San Diego Padres' new ownership group and might cause him to move away from his native California as part of ''drastic changes'' brought on by the political climate. He later called it a ''big mistake'' to take his views public.

What's there for all to see is Mickelson's love of the Masters. He earned his first of his four career major title here in 2004. He also won green jackets in 2006 and 2010 and cherishes the layout like few others on tour.

Mickelson says he's got a comfort with the layout that gives him confidence he can make a mistake and remain in contention, unlike the punishing course setups he's seen at U.S. Opens.

''I think that's what's exciting about Augusta National is the recovery shot,'' he said. ''That's the most exciting shots in golf. One of the most exciting shots I've ever hit in my career is a recovery shot on (No.) 13 a few years ago.''

Back in 2010, Mickelson seemed on the verge of major problems after his tee shot rolled into pine needles and trees on the par-5 13th hole. Instead of playing out, Mickelson hit his ball between two trees and cleared Rae's Creek to land on the green. His birdie kept momentum on his side on the way to the championship.

Mickelson says by playing the week before, he's generally more ready to attack the early holes at Augusta National.

If Mickelson can come out ready, he believes he's got the game and the tools to make another winning run. He says his redesigned driver has added distance and put him in spots on the course the 42-year-old hasn't seen in several years.

The added length has left him less clubs to use on his approach shots, an advantage the short-game wizard can't wait to bring to the course in competition.

He said his tee shots on the par-4 ninth hole have gotten to the bottom of the hill ''and I haven't been able to do that in years.''

Mickelson has had two top-10 finishes this year, including a victory in Phoenix. He thinks acknowledging his concerns will help him get past them over the next couple of days. Still, he's not sure and knows he won't have the answer to that until Thursday's start.

''It's always a challenge those first five or six holes,'' he said, ''when you haven't been in competition to be really mentally focused and sharp.''

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0016web.jpg District Champions!

    District champions ... Enough said!
    Claremore freshman forward Olivia Maulsby converted a game-winning header with 1:22 remaining to lead the No. 4-ranked Lady Zebras past No. 5 Skiatook, 2-1 Tuesday night in Metro Lakes Conference play at Lantow Field.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • DSC_0433web.jpg SOCCER: Bulldogs spoil ‘Senior Night’ for Zebras

    Claremore senior goalkeeper Sam Lillie made the most of his first and last varsity start Tuesday night against Skiatook on Senior Night at Lantow Field.
    For 40 minutes, Lillie was flawless in the goal, allowing only one goal and making several tenacious stops against the fiery Bulldogs.
    The second-half, however, told a different story as No. 3 Skiatook scored four goals and enjoyed a 5-0 win over the No. 15 Zebras.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Berryhill’s White strikes out 17, tosses no-hitter over No. 1 Verdigris

    Top-ranked Class 3A Verdigris got White-washed by 4A No.3 Berryhill on Tuesday night.
    In a battle of 2013 state champions, Chiefs’ ace Nick White — a future Oklahoma State pitcher —  fired a no-hitter with 17 strikeouts, igniting a 5-0 victory over the Cardinals.

    April 23, 2014

  • Stilwell’s Lea signs with RSU men's basketball

    Rogers State University men's basketball head coach Justin Barkley announced the addition of standout center Matt Lea for the 2014-15 season.

    April 23, 2014

  • HANSLOVANweb.jpg SOCCER: No. 2 Lady Cards roll past Oologah

    Verdigris senior forward Caitlyn Hanslovan tallied another ‘hat trick’ in her illustrious Lady Cardinals soccer career Tuesday night at Oologah.
    The three goals by Hanslovan soared the second-ranked Lady Cardinals past Oologah, 5-0 in non-conference play at Mustangs Stadium.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • 5 Claremore HS tennis players earn all-conference

    The Claremore High School boys and girls varsity tennis programs had five players receive Metro Lakes all-conference recognition.

    April 23, 2014

  • SOFTBALL: Horner's RBI-single lifts No. 15 Tulsa past OSU, 1-0

    Catherine Horner's RBI single in the sixth inning and Aimee Creger's three-hit shutout gave No. 15 University of Tulsa (42-5) a 1-0 win over Oklahoma State (24-21) at Cowgirl Stadium on Wednesday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • ORU's Romano named to NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list

    Oral Roberts University junior reliever Jordan Romano has been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year mid-season watch list, the organization announced on Wednesday.

    April 24, 2014

  • SOFTBALL: OU's Stevens tosses one-hitter past North Texas

    Sophomore Kelsey Stevens was just three outs away from her first no-hitter as a Sooner, but a one-hitter was still a fine consolation prize as No. 17/12 Oklahoma shut out North Texas, 3-0, on Wednesday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • OSU women's basketball adds JUCO duo

    Oklahoma State's women's basketball team has signed a pair of junior college players it was announced today by Cowgirl head coach Jim Littell.

    Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College's Roddricka Patton and Rylie Swanson, a product of Northern Oklahoma College-Enid, both signed National Letters of Intent and will join the OSU program for the upcoming season.

    April 24, 2014

AP Video