There was a fascinating item hidden in the middle of the Associated Press notebook from the Tour Championship on Wednesday.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson reported that Phil Mickelson brought young Jordan Spieth into his practice-round ''money game'' on Wednesday at East Lake. Mickelson, as most golf fans know, loves to play for some significant scratch in these pre-tournament rounds, partly because he enjoys the high stakes and also because he likes to help some of the younger players get ready for, as Ferguson writes, ''matches that really matter.''
A couple of years ago, he famously brought Keegan Bradley into his games. And not only did Bradley go on to win a PGA Championship, he also teamed with Mickelson for a 3-0 record in team play in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah.
Mickelson had planned to include Spieth in his game at the BMW Championship, but, because he arrived so late at Conway Farms, they put it off until East Lake, where Mickelson and Bradley took on Spieth and Steve Stricker.
Spieth and Stricker not only won the match but also captured every press – with Stricker doing most of the damage, Ferguson reported. Butch Harmon, who followed the group around, said he saw Stricker make seven birdies and an eagle.
Even if the 46-year-old Stricker carried the load, he obviously thrived with the 20-year-old Spieth on his team. Everyone assumes that Stricker would be teamed with Tiger Woods at the upcoming Presidents Cup, but Wednesday seems to raise the possibility that Stricker also might spend some time paired up with Spieth at Muirfield Village.
And if Spieth plays well under the Presidents Cup spotlight, regardless of his partner, Mickelson likely deserves a little bit of credit for his latest bit of high-stakes mentoring.
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A few years after the NCAA Division I men's golf championship switched to a combination of stroke play and match play, the women will follow suit starting in 2015.
Even after the change goes into effect, the individual champion will still be decided by 72 holes of stroke play. The full field will compete for the first three days, after which there will be a cut to the low 36 players and ties. The individual champion will be decided on the fourth and final day of stroke play, while the top eight teams after 54 holes of stroke play will advance to match play.
The team title will be determined over the final two days of the tournament. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be held the day after the individual champion is crowned, with the final staged on the sixth and final day of competition.
The new format is a marked change from the existing system in which the women's team championship is decided over four days and 72 holes of stroke play. And when it goes to the new format, the tournament will switch to a Friday-Wednesday schedule, which will allow the Golf Channel – which will begin televising it in 2015 – to devote more airtime to it without bumping into its pro tour coverage.
''Over a year ago when our committee met, one of the topics discussed was how we could grow our sport and provide our student-athletes more exposure,'' Division I Women’s Golf Committee Chair Theresa Becker, the associate athletics director at Kansas, said in a report on NCAA.com explaining the format change.
The 2015 women's and men's championships will be played at the same venue, The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla., in successive weeks. The women will play first, with the men staging their event after the women's championship is finished.
Winning the Daytona 500 is every NASCAR driver's dream. But when they give you the trophy, they also take away your car and put it on display for a year.
The same kind of thing happened to Luke Donald when he set the course record at Conway Farms, the course that's been hosting the PGA Tour's BMW Championship the last several days. Donald set the low mark of 61 there a few years ago – and to commemorate his accomplishment, Conway Farms put his clubs up on the wall.
And there they remained – until Jim Furyk carded his 59 on Friday. So, finally, Donald might get to reclaim his precious sticks.
''Well at least I get my clubs back!,'' he tweeted on Sunday, adding the hashtags #CourseRecordSmashed and #Furyk59 along with the photo above of his clubs on display.
We should note that Donald said last week that he set the Conway Farms course record before ''they Luke-proofed'' the layout by adding some length and making a few other changes over the past few years. He said he wasn't sure what the low score had been since those changes were made.
Whatever it was, it became moot when Furyk signed his scorecard on Friday. And might we presume that the folks at the Farms have or will request his clubs?
Wonder if he'll turn them over? We better keep an eye on Furyk's caddie, Fluff Cowan, on the final green Monday to see if some big scary dudes show up to confiscate them!
Okay, just kidding about that, but Furyk already has had to replace one item from his record round. The World Golf Hall of Fame requested a memento, so he signed his glove and turned it over to them.
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