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Net abuzz about Mickelson and Harmon, TigerTour

Interesting stories on the Web today.

The first is about Phil Mickelson, fresh off hitting the ball into the left trees on the 18th at Riviera, turning to former Tiger tutor Butch Harmon for help. According to Golf World, Phil met with Harmon on the range in Arizona yesterday in order to try to work out his continued problems with the driver while under pressure. This is intriguing because after the third day at the Nissan, Mickelson said he was driving the ball better than at any time in his career. Seems to me Mickelson’s main problem was missing a couple of short putts coming in on Sunday, but the driver was surely an issue on his final hole in regulation and the playoff with Charles Howell III.

There has always been plenty of gossip about Phil, including reports about a Sports[photopress:phil.jpg,full,alignright] Illustrated expose that never materialized, but the folks at Golf Digest and Golf World point out that Phil is always under scrutiny:

Thirty wins and three majors would buy any other player a lifetime exemption from criticism. With Mickelson, it only seems to fuel the negative buzz, but less than 48 hours after failing to seal the deal at Riviera, Lefty made arrangements to meet with the game’s most respected coach the day before a big event at a place where everyone would see them working together and, inevitably, begin talking about it. Source

Is this the end for Lefty and his swing doctor, Rick Smith?

On the other hand, SI is out to disprove the talk of a Tiger Tour. As recently as this week, Tiger said he speaks to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem on a weekly basis. But still the talk persists that Woods might drop his PGA Tour affiliation and form a series of events that focus on his star power.

SI says it won’t happen.

The article by Jim Gorant riffs off a comment on Bryant Gumbel’s sports talk show:

On the current edition of his HBO show, Real Sports, Bryant Gumbel argues that “the next logical step” for Tiger Woods would be to “call some of his corporate partners” and start his own tour, so he could “keep more of the money he’s now earning for others.” As evidence, Gumbel points out that the International has just gone out of business because Woods wouldn’t play in the event. It’s only a matter of time before the same fate befalls other Tigerless tournaments, Gumbel says.

But it won’t happen, argues Gorant, though I’m not entirely sure I agree with his reasoning. Gorant seems to think Woods had a lot of say in the botched FedEx Cup schedule, therefore he has no intent on making any bold moves. But he also argues that Tiger is too interested in chasing down ghosts so he’ll say put on the PGA Tour.

Moreover, Woods is one of golf’s foremost historians. As a child, he studied the game’s past and hung a chart of Jack Nicklaus’s achievements on his wall. He spent every Masters champions’ dinner prying stories of Tour times gone by out of Byron Nelson, whom he always called Mr. Nelson. Yes, Woods is motivated by Nicklaus’s 18 majors, but also by Sam Snead’s 82 Tour wins and, as we’ve all been speculating lately, Nelson’s “untouchable” 11 Tour victories in a row.

Woods wants to be remembered for breaking the records those men set, not for destroying the Tour they built. Source

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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