Phil Mickelson lumbering his way through the first fairway and almost as usual did a thumbs-up flash, even if he didn’t respond to occasional encouraging words from behind a rope or from the grandstand. In that case, it felt like a normal day at the US Open.
It’s his 31st appearance, and the naturalness of any dimension – for Mickelson and many more big names in golf – is hard to find.
LIV golf and Saudi resources attract the same attention as thick rough and strong greens. Greg Norman is often referred to as Francis Weimet.
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Brooks listened enough to Koepka.
“I’m trying to focus on the US Open, bro,” said Testelli, a two-time US Open champion. “I don’t get it legally. I’m tired of the conversation. I’m tired of all this stuff. You are all throwing black clouds at the US Open. I think it’s bad. “
Mickelson is at the center of a Saudi-funded rival league that Norman runs, returning from a four-month break outside London last week to play in the opening LIV event with 13 other players who are now at the Country Club for the US Open.
He played with John Rahm and Kevin Na. Coming to the first tee, the applause was warm, albeit a little quieter than in other years, yet with a strange shout, “This is your year, Phil!” Or “We love you, Phil!”
A fan recognized Rahm and yelled at him, a beautiful gesture for the defending champion.
Nothing like the Brooklyn Tory Pines, where last year Rahm became the first player in U.S. Open history to birdie the last two holes and win by one shot. The scenery is not the classic New England, California coast. The test, however, looks familiar.
“It’s the US Open. You need everything, “said Raham. “You have to drive well, hit your irons well, chip well and put on well and stay mentally healthy for four days.
“You can’t hide, Period. You’re going to make a lot of holes where things are going to go wrong, but I just have to know to go into it and accept something that happens.
“Of course, like every US Open, a good score is equal.”
Her biggest concern is finding a practice green space filled with major champions, PGA Tour winners, amateurs and local qualifiers. Again, this brings a US Open.
Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.
Rory McIlroy said in February, when the top players aligned themselves with the PGA Tour, that the Saudi initiative was “dead on the water”. He was questioned about the remarks.
“I thought we were at the US Open,” McIlroy said.
He was not as upset as Koepker, mainly because McIlroy has emerged as a strong voice against rival leagues. He is on the policy board of the PGA Tour and does not apologize for being so outspoken “because I think it’s the right thing to do.”
“The PGA Tour was created by the people who came before us and the tour players, like Jack Nicholas, Arnold Palmer,” he said. “They made something and worked hard to do something, and I hate to see all the players who have come before us and all the hard work that they put in can be nothing.”
At one point, McIlroy will remove his cap as spokesman and try to finish eight years without a major win. He hopes he has been helped by winning the Canadian Open last week.
Compared to his first six years as a professional, he has finished a few runner-ups in the last eight years and is in the top 10 in the majors. But since winning his last major title at the 2014 PGA Championship, he has slipped to 18th place with only one chance to win.
“I think the beginning of my career was probably more feasting or famine in the majors,” McIlroy said. “I’ll get hot and win or I’ll miss 10 cuts. A little more continuity going on. But, again, this is not the glory of victory. “
McIlroy has friends who have signed up and cashed in on LIV Golf. He does not judge quickly. For Mickelson, McIlroy had nothing but respect for what he did in golf, at least inside the ropes.
“Who am I to sit here and teach Phil how to do things? He had a great career. He’s his own man, ”McIlroy said.“ Am I disappointed that he took that path? I But I still have a lot of respect for him. “
It was not uncommon for Rahm and Mickelson to give their history together. While in the state of Arizona, Mickelson took Spaniard to his wings, where Mickelson’s brother was a golf coach.
Rahmoo also clarified his position on the threat posed by the PGA Tour.
“Honestly, with what I’ve done, I can retire now and live a very happy life and not play golf again,” he said. “So I’ve never played golf for financial reasons. I love to play, and I want to play against the best in the world.
“I’ve always been interested in history and heritage, and now it’s on the PGA Tour.”
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