Athletes often have favorite venues they associate with good memories and good performances. That, however, is certainly not the case with Phil Mickelson and New York’s Winged Foot Golf Club.
The course was the site of his most excruciating defeat when in 2006, needing just a par on the final hole — or a bogey to take it to a playoff — to claim his first U.S. Open title, the American hit the ball off a hospitality tent and made a double-bogey, handing the title to Geoff Ogilvy.
And while the crushing nature of that defeat didn’t hold Mickelson back — he went on to win two more majors — the memories from Winged Foot will no doubt forever stick with him.
While the career grand slam still remains elusive to Mickelson as he returns to Winged Foot for the 120th U.S. Open Championship, which begins on Thursday, one thing that has changed is his body. He took to Twitter to show his transformation since 2006, admitting he looks a
little “different” now.
“Last time I was at Winged Foot, I was 36 years old with no accountability for my health … After becoming accountable for my own health, today I return to Winged Foot and let’s just say I look a little ‘different.”
A tough test
When Mickelson lost that heartbreaker at Winged Foot 14 years ago, the winning score was five over par. The score to make the cut that year was 13 over.
In contrast to the 13 under Gary Woodland shot in June last year to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, many are expecting another over-par score to win the championship in 2020.
The winning score has been over par in all but one U.S. Open at Winged Foot; Jack Nicklaus once described the course as getting “tough on the first tee and never getting any easier.”
And after playing the course before the Tour Championship last week, Jon Rahm — the world No.2 — believes players will once again struggle to make birdies.
“It’s just a difficult course. It’s long. It’s narrow. It’s undulated,” the Spaniard said. “You just need to play really good golf.
“If it gets firm like some of the USGA guys (the tournament organizers) told me they want it to be, I don’t see how any of us shoot under par. Or if we shoot under par, it would be somebody winning by a lot.”
The man to beat
Since golf returned from the coronavirus hiatus, Dustin Johnson has been in red-hot form.
In 10 PGA Tour events, the 36-year-old has won three and finished second twice — including last month’s PGA Championship — and also won the season-ending FedEx Cup title.
As well as pocketing over $15 million for his FedEx Cup victory at East Lake, Atlanta and returning to world No.1, Johnson was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year.
Entering the U.S. Open, Johnson is undeniably the man to beat, and he told the media that he was “pleased” with the way his game has been “clicking” in recent competitions.
“Obviously I’ve just put in a lot of good work. I feel like it’s nice to see that the work you’re putting in, to be able to take it on the golf course and to golf tournaments,” he said.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with (coach) Claude (Harmon III) and my brother working on the putting and everything just seems to be clicking right now. But I’ve definitely had to put in a lot of work to get to where I’m at. And obviously the game’s good and it feels good.”
Creating better memories
In 2006, when the U.S. Open was last held at Winged Foot, Tiger Woods was competing just six weeks after the death of his father Earl.
And Woods admits that he wasn’t in the right mindset to play well then, as he missed the cut by three shots. “I was not prepared to play and still dealing with the death of my dad,” he said on Tuesday.
“When I didn’t win the Masters that year, that was really tough to take because that was the last event my dad was ever going to watch me play.
“He passed not too long after that, and quite frankly, when I got ready for this event, I didn’t really put in the time. I didn’t really put in the practice, and consequently missed the cut pretty easily.”
Now the 44-year-old is back at Winged Foot hoping to create new, more positive memories as he aims to win his first U.S. Open title since 2008.
Since golf returned from the break, Woods has struggled for fitness and form, playing in just four PGA Tour events, his highest finish coming at the PGA Championship when he tied for 37th.
“This year I really haven’t putted as well as I wanted to,” Woods said, “and the times I did make a few swing mistakes, I missed it in the wrong spots. Consequently, I just didn’t have the right looks at it. I’ve compounded mistakes here and there that ended up not making me able to make pars or a birdie run, and consequently I haven’t put myself in contention to win events.”
Prosecutors in Spain have opened an investigation into the racist abuse hurled at Real Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior as Brazil made a formal protest on Monday.
The 22-year-old Brazilian international has often been targeted by opposition fans in Spain’s La Liga and was once more in a 1-0 loss at Valencia on Sunday.
The game was held up for several minutes and the referee wrote in his post-match report that shouts of ‘monkey’ had been directed at Vinicius.
Valencia FC released an official statement reiterating ‘its strongest condemnation against racism and violence in all forms’ and stating that it would be ‘acting forcefully against all identified persons with the most severe measure by banning them for life’ from the stadium. The club confirmed that the police had identified a total of three fans to date who had racially insulted Vinícius Jr during the match. The prosecutor’s office in Valencia was also investigating a possible hate crime.
Real Madrid said earlier it had filed a complaint ‘in order that the facts be investigated and those responsible be held accountable. The club said the chants, in its view, ‘constitute a hate crime’.
Brazil formally protested to the Spanish ambassador and will lodge an official complaint with authorities in Madrid.
There is growing anger in Brazil, where the lights of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro were turned off for one hour in solidarity with the player.
‘Black and imposing,’ Vinícius tweeted of the darkened statue, saying he was moved and thanked followers for their support. ‘But I want, above all, to inspire and bring more light to our fight,’ he added.
Vinicius has been racially abused at several stadiums this season in Spain. On one occasion, an effigy of him was hung from a bridge by Atlético Madrid fans. Spanish police said on Tuesday that they had arrested four people as part of a probe into the hanging of the dummy.
During the Valencia match, Vinícius stood in front of home fans behind one goal and pointed to an apparent culprit. Play was delayed for several minutes in the second half.
Referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea spoke to Mestalla stadium officials, who made an announcement calling for racist insults to stop before play resumed 10 minutes later.
Spain’s government sports council is analysing crowd images to root out the fan or fans responsible. The body has in similar incidents in the past proposed a one-year stadium ban and fine of €4,000 for those found guilty.
On a day of recriminations and soul-searching, the head of Spain’s football federation said the country had a ‘problem’ with racism. ‘As long as there is just one fan, a single undesirable, or group of undesirables who hurl insults over someone’s sexual orientation, or skin colour, we have a serious problem,’ Luis Rubiales said.
But Real Madrid heavily criticised Rubiales, saying his refusal to ensure FIFA protocols – which suggest matches should be halted when racist abuse is heard – are upheld in Spain is exacerbating the problem.
‘His inaction has resulted in the helplessness and defencelessness of our player Vinícius,’ said the club, which hit out at the federation for failing to ‘prevent the situation’.
La Liga argues it has been ‘proactive’ in previous cases of racism against Vinicius.
Vinícius was sent off in added time at the end of the game for hitting Valencia player Hugo Duro during a brawl. Real said the match officials ‘made unfair decisions based on incomplete images’ when Vinicius was shown a red card.
After the match, Vinícius issued a strongly worded statement saying that ‘today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists … The league that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano (Ronaldo) and Messi now belongs to racists.’
Long removed from the Spanish selection, Sergio Ramos could know very big news today. The Paris Saint-Germain central defender has been very serious since the start of the season and he could now reap the fruits of his labor, he who had suffered a long calf injury.
Paris Saint-Germain emerged from a 7-0 victory over Pays de Cassel in the round of 16 of the Coupe de France. This is the third time this season that Christophe Galtier’s team has managed to score so many goals in a match, after the 7-1 against LOSC in the league and the 7-2 against Maccabi Haïfa in the Ligue des Champions. With this victory, PSG is qualified for the round of 16 where it will find Olympique de Marseille for the 2nd Classic of this fiscal year 2022/2023.
Autumn champion, Paris Saint-Germain is only 3 points ahead of its runner-up RC Lens. With 47 points, the Parisians managed a very big first part of the season in Ligue 1, with a record of 15 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses. Great news recently fell concerning one of Galtier’s players, enough to motivate him to attack a second part of the season which will be busy in Paris.
Luis de la Fuente in Favor of Ramos’ Return
According to information reported by the AS newspaper, the new coach of the Spanish national team Luis de la Fuente will soon meet Sergio Ramos to discuss the prospect of his return to La Roja! A moment eagerly awaited by the central defender of Paris Saint-Germain who had a very bad time not being called up for selection with Luis Enrique, he who missed the last World Cup in which he could have participated.
Spain have just inherited Italy in the draw for the Final 4 of the League of Nations which takes place this Wednesday. Sergio Ramos could therefore make his return 2 years later, he who had played his last match in the red jersey against Kosovo on March 31, 2021. Better still, the legend of Real Madrid could even be entrusted with the role of captain of the club. team by Luis de la Fuente, who has a lot of consideration for the Parisian number 4. Author of 2092 minutes played in a total of 26 games with Paris this season, Ramos shows his ability to play at the highest level at almost 37 years old.
Lots of news on this Monday of the transfer market. From Nicola’s bench in the balance, to the sensational victory of Atalanta over Salernitana for 8-2. Market bombs involving Inter and Barcelona, engaged in an exchange. Today’s news will make fans dream!
Mychailo Mudryk to Chelsea
Here we go! The transfer of the Ukrainian player, as already anticipated yesterday, is now official. An exhibition operation, the one that led the Shakhtar striker to wear the Blues shirt. He had already distinguished himself as a promising profile and thus convinced the Chelsea management that the English team decided to shell out 100 million euros and thus beat the competition from Arsenal, who went so far as to offer 70 million euros as a basis fixed and more than 25 million in bonuses, which are not always easy to achieve, as reported by the transfer market expert Fabrizio Romano. The boy’s will has always pushed the negotiation towards a transfer to Arsenal, but the Blues have been very convincing, both with the rich contract offered to the player, but also with the important commissions that will be paid to the boy’s agents. And then there are the requests from Shakhtar to consider, who immediately made it clear that they only wanted to listen to offers starting from a base of 100 million. When Mychajlo realized that Arsenal’s offer was already the maximum of their possibilities, he accepted the Chelsea court. The Ukrainian footballer binds to Chelsea until 2030, a very long contract, which protects the growth of the footballer, who will immediately have the opportunity to take the field and demonstrate his real value.
Bomb From Spain: Exchange Depay – Correa!
Sensational indiscretion from Spain, where many newspapers describe a very advanced negotiation between Barcelona and Inter, engaged in an equal exchange, which would bring Memphis Depay to Milan and Joaquin Correa to Barcelona. A negotiation that would make many fans happy and certainly both clubs. The Dutchman Depay’s contract is about to expire and the limited playing time that Xavi has given him so far suggests that the management will hardly be willing to offer him a renewal. Very good reason to help Memphis find new accommodation right away. There have been many polls, especially from second tier Premier League clubs. A few days later Manchester United came forward, for what would have been a sensational comeback. However, the English club has moved on to other objectives, making Weghorst official. Atletico Madrid have also come forward for the player, having to replace Joao Felix, who is on loan at Chelsea. However, contacts with Barça have shown that, under current conditions, the negotiation cannot take off.
As for Inter, Correa has absolutely not convinced. Last season he was tormented by physical problems, while this year he had much less. Different situation but the performance of the Tucu has never been positive. Performance that led the Nerazzurri management to consider a possible transfer. The investment made to convince Lotito and bring Joaquin to the Nerazzurri was important, but Tucu has never convinced. And taking a look at Inzaghi’s attack, we immediately understand why the arrival of Depay cannot be excluded: Lukaku tormented by injuries, Dzeko who cannot always play as a starter and then Correa who is not convincing. Depay at Inter would be a reinforcement of no small value and Correa at Barcelona would be a good chance to find a different audience, which possibly doesn’t boo, unlike the Nerazzurri.
Verona: Hongla can leave. Salernitana and Cremonese strongly interested in the player. Ballardini signs with Cremonese until 2024. Inter have not yet received any official request for Marcelo Brozovic. Nicola in the balance, the granata management did not take the defeat against Atalanta well.
This article is originally published on calciodangolo.com