Mick­el­son brothers team up

With brother as cad­die, Phil Mick­el­son set for Green­brier Clas­sic

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS -

Phil Mick­el­son heads into the next phase of his ca­reer with a new cad­die on a course mark­ing its come­back from dev­as­tat­ing floods in West Vir­ginia.

Mick­el­son will have brother Tim Mick­el­son on his bag start­ing Thurs­day at the Green­brier Clas­sic in his first tour­na­ment since part­ing ways with his cad­die of 25 years, Jim “Bones” Mackay.

Tim Mick­el­son, the former Ari­zona State coach who is the agent for former Sun Devils star Jon Rahm, will be his older brother’s cad­die for the rest of the year. Phil Mick­el­son said Wed­nes­day the new ar­range­ment brings a com­fort level that could help in game.

“Maybe he gets me a lit­tle bit more re­laxed and takes a lit­tle bit of pres­sure off me and maybe I’ll play my best that way,” Phil Mick­el­son said. “But there’s no re­plac­ing Bones.”

The tour­na­ment was can­celled last year af­ter tor­ren­tial down­pours trig­gered flood­ing that killed 23 peo­ple statewide, in­clud­ing 15 in Green­brier County, and caused ex­ten­sive dam­age to The Green­brier re­sort.

The bod­ies of three flood vic­tims who lived in White Sul­phur Springs were found on re­sort prop­erty. Trash, tires, ve­hi­cles, ap­pli­ances and up­rooted trees were ev­ery­where on the Old White TPC. Sand was washed away from bunkers, leav­ing be­hind ex­posed drainage pipes. Near the 14th green, the flood sur­passed a high-wa­ter mark set in 1915 by 6 feet.

With much work to do on the re­sort grounds, owner and now-cur­rent West Vir­ginia Gov. Jim Jus­tice had no doubt there would be a tour­na­ment this year.

Greens and fair­ways were re­seeded and re­sod­ded late last sum­mer. Many greens got new con­tours and bunkers were moved.

“This is the best I’ve ever seen this golf course,” said Bubba Wat­son, who has a sum­mer home at The Green­brier.

Jus­tice, Mick­el­son and Wat­son wanted to help the com­mu­nity, too.

Jus­tice es­tab­lished a flood­relief char­ity, Neigh­bors Lov­ing Neigh­bors, to help re­build homes and lives. Mick­el­son do­nated $100,000 to the char­ity, while Wat­son and his wife, Angie, do­nated $250,000 to lo­cal re­lief ef­forts. While Wat­son was play­ing the week af­ter the floods in the Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional in Akron, Ohio, Angie Wat­son drove the fam­ily truck with her young son to de­liver wa­ter to fam­i­lies in need.

“Peo­ple keep prais­ing us for how much we did,” Angie Wat­son said. “We wish we could have done more.”

Mick­el­son also is hav­ing a home built at the re­sort and is re­design­ing the 93-yearold Green­brier Course, which hosted the 1979 Ry­der Cup and 1994 Sol­heim Cup and also was hit hard by the floods.

He’s here this week to try to break a four-year win­less streak and get that elu­sive 43rd PGA Tour win. Mick­el­son missed the cut in his three pre­vi­ous Green­brier Clas­sic ap­pear­ances.

“Of course I feel the pres­sure,” said Mick­el­son, 47. “I don’t feel old at all but I un­der­stand the math. Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve won, I’m ex­cited about the chal­lenge. I know I’m go­ing to win again. I just don’t know when ex­actly. I en­joy the chal­lenge of try­ing to play against these great young play­ers.”

The Green­brier Clas­sic has been known for break­throughs. Three play­ers earned their first tour vic­tory in West Vir­ginia, in­clud­ing former U.S. Am­a­teur cham­pion Danny Lee in 2015, Ted Pot­ter Jr. in 2013 and Scott Stallings in 2011.

The tour­na­ment, which is giv­ing free ad­mis­sion to fans this year, has seen close fin­ishes in ev­ery year since its 2010 de­but. An­gel Cabr­era had the big­gest mar­gin of vic­tory at two strokes in 2014. The tour­na­ment has been de­cided three times in play­offs. Stu­art Ap­pleby shot 59 on Sun­day to win the in­au­gu­ral tour­na­ment by one stroke in 2010.

All pre­vi­ous win­ners of the tour­na­ment are in the field. So are five of the top 30 ranked play­ers in the world, in­clud­ing Patrick Reed at No. 21.

The lead­ing four play­ers not al­ready ex­empt from the top 12 fin­ish­ers will earn spots in the Bri­tish Open.

AP PHOTO

In this Dec. 7, 2013 photo, PGA golfer Phil Mick­el­son, left, and his brother, Tim Mick­el­son, watch from the side­lines dur­ing the first half of the NCAA Pac-12 Cham­pi­onship foot­ball game be­tween Ari­zona State and Stan­ford, in Tempe, Ariz.

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