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Chamblee says he ‘went too far’ in Tiger Woods remarks

Los Angeles (AFP) – Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, under fire for a Golf.com column accusing Tiger Woods of bending the rules, said in a televised interview he “went too far”.

In a column written for the Golf.com website, Chamblee pointed to several rules gaffes involving Woods this season, and compared them to his own cheating on a fourth-grade math test.

In an interview on Golf Channel’s “Golf Central” program on Wednesday — his first televised comments on the matter — Chamblee said it was wrong to insinuate Woods cheated.

“Cheating involves intent,” Chamblee said. “There’s no way that I could know with 100 percent certainty what Tiger’s intent was in any of those situations. That was my mistake.”

In the article, Chamblee gave Woods an ‘F’ grade for his 2013 campaign. While Woods won five times in 2013, Chamblee said he was “a little cavalier with the rules”.

Woods was hit with a number of penalties this year, most notably at the US Masters, when he flirted with disqualification over an improper drop.

He was penalized for an improper drop at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and incurred a two-shot penalty for moving his ball at the BMW Championship.

Woods’s manager Mark Steinberg had raised the prospect of court action soon after the article appeared.

Chamblee did nothing to soothe the situation when he took to Twitter to apologize — but then said he stood by the accusation.

Woods broke his silence on the matter on Monday, when he said he was ready to move on and it was up to the Golf Channel to deal with Chamblee.

Woods spoke in China, where he played an exhibition against Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy weighed in on the affair this week in Shanghai, where he was preparing for the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament.

“People wouldn’t know who Brandel Chamblee was if it wasn’t for Tiger Woods, so I am completely against what he said and I think he should be dealt with in the right way,” McIlroy said.

Chamblee said that although he works for Golf Channel, the Golf.com article didn’t involve the US cable television network.

He said his editor at Golf.com asked him to rewrite the ending of his column and he declined.

“I wished I would have listened to him,” Chamblee said.

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Chamblee says he ‘went too far’ in Tiger Woods remarks

Mickelson heads all-star cast at ‘Asia’s major’

Shanghai (AFP) – World number three Phil Mickelson leads a star-studded field battling for the riches on offer at the $8.5 million World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, which begins Thursday in Shanghai.

The field in “Asia’s major” reads like a who’s who of golf with 40 of the top 50 in the world making the journey to the sprawling Chinese city for the event co-sanctioned by the US PGA, European and Asian Tours.

On the fairways at Sheshan Golf Club with British Open champion Mickelson, who won this event in 2007 and 2009, will be current major champions Justin Rose (US Open) and Jason Dufner (US PGA).

The most notable absentees are world number one Tiger Woods, who has skipped the event despite playing an exhibition in China on Monday against Rory McIlroy, and Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia, who is second in the rankings.

Woods once described the 7,266-yard Sheshan layout, opened in 2004, as “the crowning jewel of all of Asian golf”, which makes his absence all the more surprising.

Nevertheless, the outstanding field boasts 19 majors, 12 World Golf Championships, 244 European Tour victories, 244 US PGA Tour victories and four players who have been ranked number one in the world — Mickelson, McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

The USA have the biggest contingent in Shanghai with 24 players. England have the next largest representation with 10.

The English charge is led by defending champion Ian Poulter — his 2012 win came at Mission Hills, Shenzhen — Rose, Westwood and Donald.

Poulter, who last week finished tied 15th at the BMW Masters, also in Shanghai, knows he is in for a tough defence.

“It is going to be a tall order to defend my title this year against such a strong field. Justin, Phil and Jason won the three most recent majors and are obviously the in-form guys at the moment,” he said at a promotional event Tuesday.

Mickelson will tee off Thursday alongside Rose and Keegan Bradley in one of the signature groups.

Double-winner Mickelson has a better record than anyone in the event. “It is certainly one of my favourite World Golf Championships events,” he said.

“I’ve won twice at Sheshan… so it is a course I feel excited to return to.”

Mickelson’s three-ball will be preceded by world number six McIlroy playing with Donald and Dufner.

McIlroy is continuing on his Asian quest to regain his form with confidence boosted by a one-shot victory over Woods at Mission Hills, Hainan, on Monday.

He has also played the Korea Open, finishing second, and the BMW Masters in the past fortnight.

McIlroy flew straight back to Shanghai on Monday night and looked refreshed despite his whirlwind schedule.

So was he tired? “No, not at all,” he told AFP Tuesday. “It was a lot of fun yesterday.”

The FedEx Cup champions of 2012 and 2013, Brandt Snedeker and Henrik Stenson respectively, are joined by Poulter on Thursday at the tee-off.

There are four other past champions in the field — David Howell (2005), Sergio Garcia (2008), Francesco Molinari (2010) and Martin Kaymer (2011).

The 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson had his first taste of Sheshan on Tuesday and liked what he saw.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming here,” said the US player. “But it is really good. It should really suit me and the greens are running pretty fast.”

Playing for the first time in China is 20-year-old American sensation Jordan Spieth, Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour.

The WGC-HSBC Champions is unique in straddling two different tour years. It is the second of the 2013 European Tour’s “Final Series” of four events, which conclude with the Race to Dubai, but for the first time also counts towards the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings for 2014.

The Race to Dubai, the European money list, is led by the Swede Stenson, who says his wrist is “100 percent” after injury as he plots a strong end to his season.

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Mickelson heads all-star cast at ‘Asia’s major’

Bernhard Langer needs to win Schwab Championship to capture season title

SAN FRANCISCO – Bernhard Langer knows what he needs to do at TPC Harding Park to win the Charles Schwab Cup season points title and $1 million annuity.

And it isn’t going to be easy.

Kenny Perry enters the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship with a 612-point lead over Langer.

Langer, who lost to Perry in a playoff Sunday in San Antonio in the AT&T Championship, not only needs the 880 points that go to the tournament winner, he needs Perry to finish sixth or worse.

Langer said he would focus on his game and not worry about anything else. It’s hard enough, he says, to think through his own approach.

“It’s exciting to come into this event having an opportunity, slim as it might be, to win the Charles Schwab Cup,” Langer said. “It’s a yearlong competition and it just proves you’ve had a great year, first of all, by being here in the top 30.”

HAUNTED HOLIDAY: See how your favorite goflers are celebrating Halloween

Langer has been one of the most consistent players on the tour this season, winning two titles and holding the lead at some point in eight others.

Perry has won three events, and held the lead at some point in three others.

“I can’t control what other people do, I can only play the best I can,” Langer said. “That’s my goal — play as good as Bernhard Langer can play each and every shot.”

Langer remains optimistic because of the success he has enjoyed thus far.

“I started off better than any other year,” he said. “I continued to play great golf through the whole year. I never really had a low point. I’ve been in contention probably more than ever and had opportunities to win maybe win five, six, seven times this season. It’s been an interesting year.”

The 56-year-old German won the Masters in 1985 and 1993 and became golf’s first official No. 1 ranked player when the system was devised in 1986. Langer has 18 career Champions Tour titles and 82 top-10 finishes in 124 career starts.

ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH?: Check out our list of golf’s scariest shots

“Whether I am better now than I was, I really don’t know,” Langer said. “I just know I’ve had a lot of solid years and had a lot of fun out here.”

Perry won 14 PGA Tour title and has five Champions Tour victories, including two majors this season.

“It’s been a great summer to win the two majors and finally break through on that deal,” Perry said. “Now I’m trying to win this thing. To me it would be the ultimate accomplishment to win the Charles Schwab Cup, the season-ending trophy we all shoot for come January.”

According to Perry, he has 28 other blockers. Should he finish out of the top five, having someone other than Langer win means the trophy belongs to him.

“I’ve got a lot of things going my way,” Perry said. “If I get another player to get hot and win the tournament, then they win the Cup for as well. I’ll be looking and paying attention but I also need to step my game up too and I need to figure out a way to the top five this week.”

Australian Steve Elkington, who won the 1995 PGA Championship, was the final qualifier from the money list, finishing 30th with $501,332.

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Bernhard Langer needs to win Schwab Championship to capture season title

New York Mayor Bloomberg looks ahead to golf, speaking Spanish

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A golfing holiday and learning to speak Spanish “like a native” are at the top of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s list of activities he’ll pursue when his term ends in December, he said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Bloomberg will also continue to use his multibillion-dollar fortune to try to tighten gun-control laws, combat climate change and improve public health, he told Forbes magazine.

“Look, I will stay involved in the cases I care about,” Bloomberg, 71, said in the interview with Forbes, which estimates his net worth to be $31 billion.

“I’m not just going to give away money. I want to actually be involved with guns and immigration and innovation and government and public health. Exactly how, I don’t know.”

Bloomberg made his fortune with Bloomberg LP, the financial data and news company, but said he had no plans to return to running the company.

“I can tell you what I won’t do,” he said. “I’m not going to become a professional investor. That’s somebody else’s job. I don’t want to teach. I don’t want to become a consultant. These things don’t appeal to me. I’m not going back to Bloomberg LP. I don’t want to start a new company.”

Bloomberg, whose distinctively accented brand of Spanish at press conferences became a source of amusement to New Yorkers during his 12 years in office, told the magazine he wants to polish his delivery until he can speak the language “like a native.”

He plans to give his entire fortune away through his foundation, citing both Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, and former U.S. president Bill Clinton as models, and will continue to fund political candidates who support his beliefs on tightening gun-control and reforming education.

Bloomberg recently agreed to become the chairman of the Serpentine Gallery in London, a city he said he may be spending more time in after leaving office and where he owns at least one home. There is also Bloomberg Place, reportedly the largest building development underway in the city’s financial district, which will become the European outpost of his company and foundation.

The mayor said, if invited, he will attend the inauguration of his successor on January 1. The next day, Bloomberg, who frequently flies to his home in Bermuda at weekends, said he will take his “first vacation in 12 years” with friend Diana Taylor to play golf in Hawaii and New Zealand, including at least one game with hedge-fund billionaire Julian Robertson.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson)

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New York Mayor Bloomberg looks ahead to golf, speaking Spanish

Phil Mickelson hopes to finish year with strong show at HSBC Champions

SHANGHAI – Phil Mickelson was hard at work Wednesday morning on the practice range at Sheshan International, and not just on his golf swing. He was trying to learn a Chinese phrase, and he rehearsed it over and over to make sure he got the pronunciation just right.

The phrase: ”After the round.”

For all the autographs he gives, Mickelson never signs during his round, even if it’s a practice round when the course is closed to the public. He was looking for a way to explain that to the Chinese gallery without coming across as aloof. The first option was ”Not now, later,” except he figured ”later” might translate to five minutes.

Mickelson is just as popular in China as he is at home. He engages the crowd. He has fun with the staged photo calls, such as Tuesday night in the Bund district when he dressed in a traditional robe and acted the part of a war hero returning home.

One year, he was sitting across from Tiger Woods in a game of Chinese checkers. The idea was to photograph golf’s two biggest stars, and the best rivalry of their generation. But at the last minute, Mickelson spontaneously threw both arms in the air to make it look as though he had won.

As for the robe, the sword and a dance routine he tried (with limited success) to follow?

”Part of my enjoyment for participating in this tournament is some of the cultural experiences we’ve had, from Tai Chi two years ago to Chinese checkers, where I beat Tiger in that game,” Mickelson said as the room erupted in laughter.

5 TO WATCH: Who does TJ Auclair pick to prosper at the HSBC Champions

The golf hasn’t been too bad, either.

Mickelson is a two-time winner of the HSBC, including 2009 when it was the first year with World Golf Championship status. He played in the final group with Tiger Woods that year and put him away early.

The HSBC is full-fledged WGC for the first time this year, attracting one of its stronger fields. Though it is missing Nos. 1 and 2 in the world – Tiger Woods is doing corporate outings in the region, Adam Scott is resting up for the hero’s welcome he is sure to receive in Australia with his green jacket from the Masters – it has 40 of the top 50 players in the world.

For Mickelson, it’s the end of a long and fruitful year.

He started at No. 17 in the world and has a chance this week to go to No. 2 if he were to win. He added the third leg of the career Grand Slam with his popular win at Muirfield in the British Open. He came within a fraction of an inch of 59 in the Phoenix Open, which he won. He added another international title at the Scottish Open.

”I would love to finish strong,” Mickelson said.

Last week in Malaysia, he would love to have known where the ball was going. Mickelson said he rarely felt as hopeless as he did at Kuala Lumpur, coping with a two-way miss and realizing that his swing hasn’t been reliable for some time. A few days later, optimism returned.

CAN YOU TOP THAT?: Spieth sets out to build on his dream 2013 season

”The last two days, my game started to come around,” he said. ”And as I enter this tournament, I enter with a lot more confidence than I’ve had in a while. Sheshan is a golf course that I feel very comfortable on. I feel like I know how to play this course successfully, and I’m looking forward to the week.”

The field includes Rory McIlroy, defending champion Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, four prominent players from Europe’s winning Ryder Cup team, all of them still looking for their first win of the year. McIlroy gets the most attention because he started the year at No. 1 in the world and has fallen to No. 6. He is starting to swing the club beautifully though, and he beat Woods in their exhibition match Monday for the second straight year.

Mickelson, meanwhile, has shown that coming to Asia can pay off in more than just trophies. He has invested plenty of time, particularly in China, and already has at least three golf projects in the works. He spent Monday at Mickelson International Golf Club in the Shanghai area, which will open in the spring.

He has two other courses, one that includes a massive practice facility.

”I believe China and other parts of Asia are the biggest growth opportunity in the game of golf,” he said. ”And I feel as though we should all help expose the greatness of the game of golf to these parts of the world, and see the game flourish.”

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Phil Mickelson hopes to finish year with strong show at HSBC Champions

Jordan Spieth ready to start over now that his dream season has come to end

SHANGHAI – Jordan Spieth followed the flight of his tee shot on the par-3 sixth hole at Sheshan International, and his amateur partners took great interest just watching his body language. Finally, he offered the slightest slump of his shoulders when he saw the outcome.

“Over the green?” one of the amateurs asked him.

“I thought it was in,” Spieth replied. The ball turned just below the cup and settled about 4 feet away.

It’s been that kind of year for the 20-year-old Texan.

A year ago, he was in his sophomore year at the University of Texas. A few weeks ago, he was a guest on the sidelines of the OU-Texas game. In one amazing year, he went from failing the second stage of Q-School on the PGA Tour to playing a World Golf Championship in Shanghai. He went from not having a tour card to playing in the Presidents Cup. He showed up for the HSBC Champions at No. 20 in the world.

And even though the calendar still shows 2013, this week marks the start of his encore.

Spieth just last month wrapped up a rookie season that featured $4.5 million, including his FedExCup bonus for finishing at No. 7. He starts at zero on Thursday.

OUT ON A HIGH NOTE?: Mickelson looks to end year with another strong showing

“I think there’s a lot to prove this year to follow it up,” Spieth said. “Obviously, last season was more than I could have dreamt. But I met with my coach and we’ve set new goals. I’m changing my schedule, and most of the events I’ll play will be against a lot harder fields for most of the year. I’m just looking ahead. I never really did look back.”

That would be a lot to digest.

Spieth had no status on any tour when he took a right turn in March by skipping a chance to get a Web.com Tour card in South America so he could honor a commitment to play in the Puerto Rico Open. He tied for second and was on his way. Spieth had temporary PGA Tour membership locked up by May, he contended on the weekend at Colonial and Congressional, broke through with a win at the John Deere Classic, and the hits kept coming.

A playoff loss in the Wyndham Championship. Playing with Phil Mickelson for the first time and closing with a 62 at the TPC Boston. The phone call – it still gives him chills thinking about that – from Fred Couples making him a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup. Nearly winning the FedExCup with a 64 in the final round of the Tour Championship. And then going 2-2 in his Presidents Cup debut. He had to reset his goals about five times during the course of nine months.

There are times when he remembers his youth. As he finished up his pro-am Wednesday, the conversation turned to the Asia-Pacific Amateur, which was won last week by 19-year-old Chang-woo Lee of South Korea.

“He’s about the same age I am,” Spieth said.

But when he sets up on the practice range next to Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and PGA Champion Jason Dufner, he realizes he’s in another league. And he knows the only way to stay there is to keep moving forward.

5 TO WATCH: Who does TJ Auclair pick to prosper at the HSBC Champions?

“The Presidents Cup was real exciting to reflect on,” he said. “As far as the year goes, the only thing I looked back on was gaining confidence in pressure situations, and being able to make some putts. I had goals and I had to set new goals. I never had to do that before. It was cool to see each goal get surpassed so quickly. We were riding a lot of confidence.”

There was something different about this kid last year. He had a confidence about him that only increased with every opportunity and every big moment. To see Spieth reminded Phil Blackmar of his early days on the PGA Tour, especially his first major at Cherry Hills for the PGA Championship.

“I’m playing with Hale Irwin,” Blackmar said in a recent interview. “I had never played with him. The eighth hole is a par 3, and we had to wait on the group ahead of us. I was minding my business, and he comes over, looks up at me and turns to the crowd and says, `He doesn’t have it. You can tell by the look in his eyes.’

“So I said, `How in the hell can he tell? He can’t see this high.’ And Hale turned bright red,” Blackmar said. “But what he said was true. You can tell something about guys that are on the right side of the edge. There’s something about their body language, their facial expression. Jordan has that. He would have had a similar response. To me, he has that same sort of makeup.”

Spieth didn’t do anything after the Presidents Cup when he returned home to Dallas. He is moving into a new house he bought, which took up his time. He is starting a workout program to get stronger as he prepares for the big events. And even though he couldn’t stop talking about meeting with Texas coach Mack Brown the night before a 36-20 win over the Sooners, perhaps the most important day of his break was with coach Cameron McCormick.

They looked over his statistics and tried to identify strengths and weakness. They set new goals – again.

“Overall short game, wedge work, long irons,” Spieth said. “What we said is if I take the same routine and spent a little extra time – maybe an hour a day, 30 minutes, whatever it is – and work around the greens, it will be a better year.”

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Jordan Spieth ready to start over now that his dream season has come to end

Top players ‘pressured’ into too much golf: Poulter

Shanghai (AFP) – Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter feels the top players are “pressured” into playing too much golf and fears it is affecting their performances.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday before playing in a pro-am at the $8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, defending champion Poulter said players who have trimmed back their schedules seemed to be reaping the benefits.

“I feel sometimes we are pressured in some ways to play golf as much as we are. We have to be very, very careful with our schedule to make sure we have a fine balance of a good home life and a good business life to make sure we’re playing the best golf we can,” he said.

“We’ve seen a number of players who have shortened their calendar and have done exceptionally well: Tiger (Woods), Adam Scott, Steve Stricker just to name a few.”

But with the current structure of the US PGA and European Tours, Poulter said he was resigned to another busy year in 2014.

“Obviously 15 events Stateside, 13 events in Europe, adds up to a lot of tournaments and we have to play a few in the back end of the year to qualify for the (season-ending) DP World Tour Championship.”

His comments were a swipe at the new “Final Series” of four events as the European Tour tries to emulate the success of the FedEx Cup playoffs in the United States. The players are required to play at least two of the first three — two in Shanghai, one in Turkey — to qualify for the hugely lucrative finale in Dubai.

“I won’t be changing my schedule an awful lot to be honest. I’ll still maintain my two cards (US and Europe). I need to do that because I want to play Ryder Cup,” said the Englishman Poulter.

Playing too much was a fear echoed by current major champions Phil Mickelson (British Open) and Justin Rose (US Open).

Mickelson said he was considering trimming his schedule to focus on the majors next year and, in particular, the US Open, which he needs to win to complete a career slam.

“It took a lot out of me these last couple of months where we played nine out of 12 weeks,” said the five-time major winner.

“I think spacing the events is important,” said Mickelson. “I will play Memphis (the week before the US Open at Pinehurst), and plan to play the Memorial the week before that.

“I like having a three-week stretch heading into the majors, although next year that will be the only three-week stretch.”

Rose said he skipped the BMW Masters in Shanghai last week simply because he did not want to be away from home for four weeks.

“Just very hard for me to be away for a month with two young children, four and two years old,” said Rose, adding he was “trying to create a balance in my career”.

“It’s very hard to justify a month away from home,” he said.

There has been disquiet among the players in Shanghai over the past 10 days about the new end-of-season format, given the travelling distances involved to China, Turkey and Dubai – especially for those based in the United States – and the requirement to play two out of the first three events.

Players committee chairman Thomas Bjorn is understood by AFP to be considering holding a meeting of players this week in Shanghai to discuss the way forward. “We may need to tweak it,” conceded the big Dane last week, when asked about the “Final Series”.

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Top players ‘pressured’ into too much golf: Poulter

PREVIEW-Golf-Mickelson eyes Sheshan hat-trick as Tiger sits out

(fixes lit in fourth par)

By Andrew Both

SHANGHAI, Oct 30 (Reuters) – The absence of Tiger Woods will not go unnoticed at this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions tournament but the attendance of 40 of the world’s top 50 players suggests the tournament is living up to its billing as a World Golf Championships tournament.

The HSBC is the only WGC event played outside the United States but an $8.5 million purse has still not been enough to lure world number one Woods to Sheshan International Golf Club.

With appearance money banned in official PGA Tour events, the 14-time major champion has snubbed the event since 2010.

This week, instead, he s participating in some lucrative corporate outings elsewhere in Asia following on from Monday’s exhibition match against Rory McIlroy on Hainan Island in South China.

World number two Adam Scott, who this year became the first Australian to win the Masters, is also missing as he prepares for a busy year-end schedule in his homeland, but the presence of British Open champion Phil Mickelson, U.S. Open winner Justin Rose and two-time major champion McIlroy helps soften the blow.

Mickelson’s golf course design business is growing in China – he has a new course opening in Shanghai early next year – but his focus this week will be on clinching a Sheshan hat-trick, where he also won in 2007 and 2009.

“I was not swinging well in Malaysia (but) the last two days my game started to come around,” Mickelson told reporters on Wednesday, referring to last week’s CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, where he finished tied for 19th.

“I enter this tournament with a lot more confidence than I’ve had in a while. I feel the ball-striking is getting better, the rhythm is getting better and Sheshan is a course I feel very comfortable on.”

HOPEFUL ROSE

Englishman Rose knows a good result here would boost his chances of winning the Race to Dubai – formerly known as the European Tour Order of Merit. He is third with just two events left after this week.

“To get my name on that trophy again would be a huge honour,” said Rose, who won the European money list in 2007.

“This is a key week on both tours (because) it’s my first event on the 2014 PGA Tour schedule.”

McIlroy, meanwhile, needs a strong performance to qualify for the European Tour’s season-ender in Dubai in a fortnight. He is 62nd on the money list, with only the top 60 advancing.

“It’s a big week obviously… it’s sort of make-or-break,” McIlroy said.

“If I don’t play good enough here, then you know, there’s a good chance I won’t play in Dubai. But… there’s a bigger chance of me winning this tournament than not playing in Dubai, I feel.”

The international field here comprises 72 players from 21 countries, headed by 24 American players.

The host country has a six-man contingent, while nine other Asian players are in the field – four from Japan (including young stars Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa), two from Thailand, two from South Korea and one from India.

Englishman Ian Poulter is defending champion. (Editing by John O’Brien)

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PREVIEW-Golf-Mickelson eyes Sheshan hat-trick as Tiger sits out

Mickelson schedule cuts will come but not before majors

By Andrew Both

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Phil Mickelson plans to play in the week before each of the major championships next year despite making as yet unspecified cuts to his overall schedule for 2014, the British Open champion said on Wednesday.

The 43-year-old American said he would compete in Houston before the Masters, in Memphis before the U.S. Open, in Scotland before the British Open and in Akron before the PGA Championship.

Mickelson has clearly given particular thought to his preparations for the U.S. Open, the only major missing from his collection and a tournament where he has been runner-up six times.

Victory at the Pinehurst No. 2 course next June would make him only the sixth player to complete the modern Grand Slam and he is determined not to go to North Carolina underprepared.

“I like to have a three-week stretch heading into the majors, although (next year the lead-up to the US Open) will be the only three-week stretch,” he said on the eve of the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament.

“Playing Memphis the week before is very helpful (because) they are very similar grasses as Pinehurst, with the exception of the greens.

“So I plan to play Memphis (St Jude Classic) and I plan to play Memorial the week before that and I’ll have some time in Pinehurst prior to that.”

Left unsaid was which tournaments the five-times major winner would scrap, although his comments suggested the PGA Tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs might be on the chopping block.

“It really took a lot out of me these last couple of months where we played nine out of 12 weeks, and it was difficult for me to get the proper preparation for each tournament,” he added.

“I don’t want to enter a tournament where I feel unprepared, and that’s the baseline I’m going to use as I build my schedule next year.”

The success U.S. Masters champion and world number two Adam Scott has enjoyed since cutting his schedule to the bone has not escaped the attention of his rivals.

While Mickelson has the latitude to make cuts, European players such as Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who play both the European and PGA Tours, do not have as much room for manoeuvre if they want to remain eligible for the Ryder Cup.

“I know every decision that Adam Scott makes is based around what is going to help him leave a legacy and win more major championships,” said U.S. Open champion Rose.

“He’s pretty ruthless with that decision-making and it’s paid off. (Cutting back) is something I’m trying to find the right balance to.”

Poulter, like Mickelson a former winner of the HSBC Champions, said his eccentric dress sense would be on display at a similar number of tournaments next year.

“I won’t be changing my schedule an awful lot,” he said. “I’ll still maintain my two cards and I need to do that because obviously I want to play the Ryder Cup.”

Original source:

Mickelson schedule cuts will come but not before majors

Golf-Mickelson schedule cuts will come but not before majors

By Andrew Both

SHANGHAI, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Phil Mickelson plans to play in the week before each of the major championships next year despite making as yet unspecified cuts to his overall schedule for 2014, the British Open champion said on Wednesday.

The 43-year-old American said he would compete in Houston before the Masters, in Memphis before the U.S. Open, in Scotland before the British Open and in Akron before the PGA Championship.

Mickelson has clearly given particular thought to his preparations for the U.S. Open, the only major missing from his collection and a tournament where he has been runner-up six times.

Victory at the Pinehurst No. 2 course next June would make him only the sixth player to complete the modern Grand Slam and he is determined not to go to North Carolina underprepared.

“I like to have a three-week stretch heading into the majors, although (next year the lead-up to the US Open) will be the only three-week stretch,” he said on the eve of the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament.

“Playing Memphis the week before is very helpful (because) they are very similar grasses as Pinehurst, with the exception of the greens.

“So I plan to play Memphis (St Jude Classic) and I plan to play Memorial the week before that and I’ll have some time in Pinehurst prior to that.”

Left unsaid was which tournaments the five-times major winner would scrap, although his comments suggested the PGA Tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs might be on the chopping block.

“It really took a lot out of me these last couple of months where we played nine out of 12 weeks, and it was difficult for me to get the proper preparation for each tournament,” he added.

“I don’t want to enter a tournament where I feel unprepared, and that’s the baseline I’m going to use as I build my schedule next year.”

The success U.S. Masters champion and world number two Adam Scott has enjoyed since cutting his schedule to the bone has not escaped the attention of his rivals.

While Mickelson has the latitude to make cuts, European players such as Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who play both the European and PGA Tours, do not have as much room for manoeuvre if they want to remain eligible for the Ryder Cup.

“I know every decision that Adam Scott makes is based around what is going to help him leave a legacy and win more major championships,” said U.S. Open champion Rose.

“He’s pretty ruthless with that decision-making and it’s paid off. (Cutting back) is something I’m trying to find the right balance to.”

Poulter, like Mickelson a former winner of the HSBC Champions, said his eccentric dress sense would be on display at a similar number of tournaments next year.

“I won’t be changing my schedule an awful lot,” he said. “I’ll still maintain my two cards and I need to do that because obviously I want to play the Ryder Cup.” (Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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Golf-Mickelson schedule cuts will come but not before majors

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