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Today, I look at how Phil Mickelson and fans have quickly taken a shining to him playing PGA Tour Champions events.
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Getting your Phil of the Champions
Phil Mickelson is having a ball on the PGA Tour Champions, winning his second event in as many starts on Sunday at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Mickelson pulled away from 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir to win by three at The Country Club of Virginia.
Combined with his win at Ozarks National at Big Cedar Lodge in August, Mickelson hasn’t lost to anyone yet on the 50-plus circuit.
Mickelson seems to have found some joy in playing against old friends — particularly, old friends he can outdrive by just as much, if not more, than when they all played the PGA Tour together. After winning, Mickelson told Golf Channel he likes the 50-plus events because the courses are shorter and set up friendlier, so he can hit bombs and play aggressively. He can’t do that with impunity on the PGA Tour. I feel you, Phil. I like that kind of golf, too. You just play it 20 times better than me.
Between Phil, Jim Furyk and Ernie Els, the Champions have gotten a big boost this last year or so, and people are watching. Based on our data at Golf News Net, just as many people watched Phil win on Sunday as did watch Jason Kokrak break through at Shadow Creek.
Kokrak had pocket rockets
Jason Kokrak is a PGA Tour winner, with the long hitter winning the CJ Cup (the trophy isn’t a cup) at Shadow Creek in Vegas. The irony is that Kokrak won it with his putter, shooting 64 on Sunday and making more than 110 feet of putts in the final round to hold off Xander Schauffele, who logged his sixth — yes, sixth — runner-up finish since his last win at the 2019 Tournament of Champions.
Kokrak shared this photo on Instagram back in June, signaling he was going All In (with MGM International Resorts, which owns Shadow Creek). He apparently shoved with a good hand on Sunday, winning as an 80-to-1 shot against a stacked field.
Sidebar: Forebucks members got that tip early in the week!
You gotta check out…
Doc Emrick is retiring: Mike “Doc” Emrick has been calling hockey games for near a half-century, and he’s been the voice of the NHL on NBC Sports forever. He’s retiring today at 74, per the New York Post, which broke the story. I know “favorite play-by-play people” is a personal list, but I love how Emrick uses colorful language to describe a fast-moving sport, buoyed by a banked history of the game that’s unrivaled. I’ll miss his calls.
A tropical system is heading to Bermuda: Tropical Depression 27 (27!) is heading toward Bermuda right now with the potential to strengthen. It could damage the island nation, which next week hosts the PGA Tour’s Bermuda Championship. Fans are supposed to be allowed in a small capacity.
Odds are this is just the beginning: The CJ Cup marked the first time that a PGA Tour event featured live odds fully integrated into a TV broadcast for all four rounds. They did a pretty good job with it, though the announcers are still going to have to learn gambling parlance and what all the numbers really mean. Sometimes they can’t even project the cut right. They’ll also have to strike a balance between bettors who want constant action, casual bettors who might have the occasional sweat and the non-bettor who really has no interest in real-time odds.