Tag:british saturday
Posted on: July 16, 2011 3:34 pm

'Rookie' Mickelson in rare British position

SANDWICH, England -- The following is not meant to serve as sarcasm, but merely a reminder of historical fact gleaned over 17 largely unproductive trips across the Atlantic Ocean.

Phil Mickelson is a talkative guy, but these words have not often, if ever, passed over his lower lip:

"It's fun for me to come over here and have a chance on Sunday," he said.

Within five strokes of the 54-hole lead for only the second time in his career, the most decorated player in the 140th British Open shot a 1-over 71 on Saturday at rain-battered Royal St. George's, shaking off the elements to contend at a major for the first time since last summer.

Mickelson hasn’t often handled the elements of links golf over the years, and promised that he's play this week with a different mindset completely -- he intended to block out past performances and concentrate solely on the present.

Given is record, brainwashing was a good idea.

A lead-pipe cinch as a Hall of Fame inductee next spring, Mickelson has only once finished in the British Open, where fans might assume the creativity required would suit his game. It hasn’t turned out that way. Not even close.

Mickelson showed up in a downpour to play the first hole while wearing rain gloves on both hands, but as the weather turned, so did his fortunes. He was 3 over after six holes, but once the clouds stopped dumping water by the barrel, he played the closing stretch 2 under.

He stands five strokes behind Northern Ireland veteran Darren Clarke, but there are only five players standing between them.

"Certainly I've got to do something really good tomorrow," said Mickelson, who is seeking his fifth major title. "I've got to shoot something under par, I'm just not sure how low."

The weather will play a role. Forecasts call for a 50 percent chance of rain, again, in the late afternoon, when leaders will be on the exposed, wind-strewn course.

Finding the firepower to make a charge might prove difficult, since the week has had a decidedly non-Lefty feel: He's amassed only seven birdies over 54 holes. But he's kept the damage to a minimum, too.

The blank-slate approach seems to be working, though. At least he has a sniff at the Claret Jug, a true career rarity.

"I mean, there's nothing more exciting than on Sunday having a chance in a major," he said. "Now, I know that I'm not leading, but I'm also right there. 

"I know I'm right there, and if I play a good, solid round of a couple under par, I don't know how many, it might have to be 6, might only have to be 2, depends on the weather, if I can get it under par, I'm going to have a good chance. 

"To me, that is so much fun, and I'm excited. I feel like it's my first time over here."

Maybe it will result in another first-time result that nobody possibly envisioned -- Mickelson holding the oldest trophy in major-championship golf.

"Yeah, it would be cool, but we shouldn't go into that yet," he said. "We've got a lot of golf left."

Category: Golf
Posted on: July 16, 2011 11:09 am
Edited on: July 16, 2011 11:19 am

Open leaders dodge storm, watery grave

SANDWICH, England -- Like the sheep that once occupied the grounds over a century ago, they hunkered down among the hillocks, looking for shelter and sanctuary from the blustery storm.

No, not the spectators.

We're talking about the flock inside the ropes.

The morning wave of players at Royal St. George's were bathed and bashed by a storm that hammered Kent County and completely skewed what was expected to be a wide-open Open.

Instead of pelting the leaders in the afternoon, the storm instead laid down just as the leaders teed off, giving them a huge edge in the third round Saturday in the 140th British Open.

For the legion that went off early, it was Royal St. Galoshes, for sure. Bo Van Pelt was so soaked that he had his caddie ran out of towels and had to use a sweatshirt off his caddie's back to keep the grips dry.

"We used that as a towel for the last three holes," Van Pelt said.

Van Pelt said he had played only once in his life under worse conditions, and that was in near-freezing temperatures in college.

"No. 1 as a pro," he said.

It showed on the scoreboard. The best score from among the morning session was from ageless Tom Watson, who shot a 2-over 72 at age 62. Watson is a five-time Open champion. The mental grind on days like this can be more daunting than the physical challenges, he said.
"It will eat you up and spit you out," Watson said. "It's done it to me."

Exaggerations aside, it was actually raining sideways at times. In Florida, when storms blow this hard, they give them names.

The early scoring average hovered around 7-over 77 before the brunt of the storm wafted off toward the adjacent English Channel just as co-leaders Darren Clarke and Lucas Glover began their day.

"When the weather people here say the weather will be bad, you better listen," Van Pelt said, noting that the predictions for days had called for weekend storms.

Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen won last year in the winds at St. Andrews, which were nothing like what he endured Saturday morning. This time, there was rain as well as wind.

"To do both, it was just so tough to stay dry," he said. "Just try to not let go of the club."

Oosthuizen went through four towels and four gloves trying to keep his hands and grips from becoming slippery. No sane person would subject himself to such sloppy circumstances normally, he said.

"If it's a social round that starts like this, you'd say, 'I'm outta here, boys,'" he said.

Former Open champion Paul Lawrie was in the second tee time of the day and shot 81, before the hard stuff really started falling. He had an eagle, birdie, par, bogey, double and triple on the card -- which is the golf equivalent of hitting for the cycle. He shot 81.

Pre-tournament favorite Rory McIlroy was wearing four layers of clothes and mitts on both hands in an attempt to stay warm on the front nine. Sergio Garcia's teeth were chattering at times in the cold, despite a beanie on his noggin.

Which begs the question, if this is summer, what's Sandwich like in the winter?

Category: Golf
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com