Michael Kim had missed six out of seven cuts and changed coaches when he showed up at the John Deere Classic last year. He broke the tournament record at 27-under 257 and won by eight shots, matching Dustin Johnson and Francesco Molinari for the largest victory margin of the season.
And then it was as if the week never happened.
Kim flew straight to Carnoustie for the British Open, where he tied for 35th. Since then, he has made only one 36-hole cut, at the Safeway Open. He is credited for making three other cuts in Malaysia, South Korea and Kapalua — tournaments that had no cut.
As he prepares to defend his title, Kim has missed the cut in all 17 tournaments he has played since the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
During the John Deere Classic preview in May, Kim focused more on the two-year exemption that gave him time to work on the changes in his swing with John Tillery. The objective is “to have more weeks like I did at the Deere more consistently.”
“It’s taken a little longer than I hoped or wished, but it’s kind of the ultimate one step back to go two steps forward,” Kim said. “I’m content with finding where my game is starting to head and I’m excited for the second half. Obviously, I’d like to play better. Everyone wants to play better. But looking at the latter half of this year and also the upcoming year, I’m excited to see where my game will be.”
What had been shaping up as a big year for Phil Mickelson has taken a turn for the worse.
Mickelson has missed the cut in three of his last four starts. The exception was his tie for 52nd in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he won earlier this year in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am that raised his hopes.
Now he heads to the final major of the year not knowing what kind of game he will take with him.
“I’m just not playing really good golf right now,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson typically likes to play the week before a major. Given the new schedule, he will not have played before any of the majors. The Scottish Open is at The Renaissance, which is not a true links. Instead, he says he will head to Royal Portrush early.
What needs work?
“Probably a lot,” Mickelson said.
Royal Portrush required some reconfiguration to be able to stage the British Open for the first time in 68 years, meaning the 17th and 18th holes from the Dunluce Links are being replaced by two new holes from land on the Valley Links.
With course changes, there also is a one-time alternation in a playoff if it’s necessary.
For the first time, the R&A says, it will go to a three-hole aggregate playoff at Royal Portrush involving the first, 13th and 18th holes. The 13th is a par 3 with the green not far from the 18th tee. The Open had been using a four-hole aggregate playoff since 1986 at Royal Troon.
An R&A spokesman says the decision was “geography-based” and any playoff is expected to return to four holes at other links.
LPGA IN FLORIDA
The LPGA Tour will have four tournaments in Florida starting next year.
After announcing a new event in Boca Raton at the start of 2020, the LPGA Tour said the Pelican Women’s Championship will be held May 14-17 at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, which is just northwest of St. Petersburg. It will have 144 players and a purse of $1.75 million.
The new tournament is the same week as the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco.
The presenting sponsor of the Pelican Women’s Championship is DEX Imaging, whose founding family (Dan Doyle Sr.) has partnerships with Tampa Bay’s three professional sports teams. The Doyle family bought Pelican Golf Club (formerly Belleview Biltmore Golf Club).
The LPGA Tour starts its season in the Orlando area with the Diamond Resorts Classic and ends the year in Naples with the CME Group Tour Championship.
DUVAL IN COLORADO
David Duval is gearing up for the British Open by playing the Korn Ferry Tour at the TPC Colorado, about an hour north of his home in Denver. He told the Fort Collins Coloradoan, “I felt like for me that a competitive week is more important than an extra practice round.”
Duval will take on a course that is listed 9 yards short of 8,000 yards.
The TPC Colorado features two par 5s at 624 yards and another par 5 at 773 yards, the longest on tour. It also has three par 4s under 400 yards.
COMMISSIONER, MEET MY DAUGHTER
LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan recalls playing golf with a Swiss-based banker, Alberto Valenzuela, while at the Evian Championship years ago. It only took a few holes for Whan to realize his host had a golf background — turns out Valenzuela played for UCLA in the 1980s.
He told Whan his kids were good golfers and that his daughter will be playing on the LPGA Tour one day. Whan laughed.
“You know how many dads I meet a year that tell me that their daughter will be on tour?” Whan recalls telling him. “Probably wanted to punch me.”
A few years passed, and Whan was on the practice range at the ANA Inspiration meeting players when he came across one Swiss amateur in her teens. It was Albane Valenzuela, who asked Whan if he had met her caddie.
“I turn around and the caddie is her dad,” Whan said. “Looked at me (and said), ‘I told you.'”
Not yet, but close.
Valenzuela, who tied for 21st in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, plays for Stanford. She has made the cut twice at the ANA Inspiration.
The final four spots to the British Open are available this week to the leading player not exempt from the top five at the John Deere Classic, and the leading three players not already exempt from the top 10 in the Scottish Open. … Ariya Jutanugarn now has gone 25 starts on the LPGA Tour since her last victory. … The R&A says Ryan Moore has withdrawn from the British Open as his wife is close to having a baby. … Rocket Mortgage Classic winner Nate Lashley says one of his favorite perks from winning was going to New York City. It was his first trip to the Big Apple. … Shanshan Feng became the 12th woman to surpass $11 million in career earnings on the LPGA Tour with her 10th career victory last week in the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Phil Mickelson has missed the cut seven times this year, his most in one year on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut nine times in 1995.
“I learned how not to swing a golf club.” — Keegan Bradley, asked what he learned playing in a pro-am with former Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer.