Thursday, 18 April, 2019

Spieth in mini-slump heading to Shinnecock Hills, US Open

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Woods is one of 20 players in the field who also contested the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock Hills, when playing conditions meant 28 of the 66 players amazingly failed to break 80 in a final round which had to be halted in order to water the seventh green.

Phil Mickelson wants to win the U.S. Open, just not this early in the week. And one of those moments of candour: He is not sure how he will react if it comes to that long lost feeling of the pressure late Sunday brings at a major.

Seventeen players at Shinnecock Hills this week have only one major and would love to add another. "It's one of those things where now that I'm in I'm going to try to treat it like any other event, prepare, and play well". "I know that the USGA is doing the best they can to find that line".

Yet this week, he sees himself as a peer, a competitor, although he is coming off a performance at Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament in which a balky putter kept him from competing for a victory.

Mickelson hasn't had a chance since his sixth runner-up finish in 2013 at Merion, where he twice made bogey with a wedge in his hand over the last six holes. All it takes for him to temper any frustrations is to look back at past year, when he didn't know if he would even play another U.S. Open.

"Two [holes] on Sunday", Spieth said confusingly.

The 42-year-old was in a genial mood as he discussed his game, although he was curt when asked about progress in his life since his arrest in May of last year for driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

"It's one of very few birdie opportunities", Mickelson said. So, yeah, I've had my opportunities.

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"I feel like my game is in the best shape it's been in a long time, including past year", he said. I didn't know if I was going to have them again. These courses demand that if a player wants to win, he must be able to drive the ball as close to the fairway as possible. "If I go out there and set a goal and fall short of a certain number, that's what I am chasing".

Spieth said he prefers to think about who makes putts in big moments, and whether the ball is holed with the right speed and right break. "I was even looking at a weather forecast for Monday, thinking, 'What's it look like if you happen to work your way into a playoff?' So shows you what I know".

It might be that players don't lie down in front of him anymore, or that many are too young to even understand just what Tigermania once was.

"It's something that I never thought I would see in my lifetime", Player said of a women's event at Augusta National.

Time after time, the world's best golfers have been made to look incredibly stupid, with putts running off the front of greens, and four putts being nearly common place. It is definitely bigger, always bigger when he's in contention on Sundays.

A victory this week at Shinnecock would make Mickelson the oldest U.S. Open champion and the second-oldest major champion, surpassed only by Julius Boros, who was also 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship.

It's therefore an unexpected luxury to have both of them back in the field, and in such form. "But the more I think about winning, the more it detracts away from my focus and the process of playing a round on Thursday".

"I'm not opposed to that", Woods said. "But at the same time, I know that he's still hungry".

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