Mickelson a huge Riviera fan after long learning curve

PACIFIC PALISADES, California Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:20am IST

U.S. golfer Phil Mickelson speaks during a news conference at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, California, January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

U.S. golfer Phil Mickelson speaks during a news conference at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, California, January 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

PACIFIC PALISADES, California (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson ranks Riviera Country Club as one of his favorite venues on the PGA Tour, even though it took him almost a decade to discover the art of playing the par-71 layout.

Known as a classic shot-maker's course, Riviera continually vexed Mickelson as he missed four cuts in eight PGA Tour appearances here between 1988 and 2001.

He then skipped the event until 2007 when he made a last-minute decision to compete and ended up losing to fellow American Charles Howell III in a playoff for the title.

Mickelson has since won the tournament twice and was edged out in a three-way playoff at Riviera last year when compatriot Bill Haas emerged triumphant.

"I really enjoy Riviera golf course," world number 10 Mickelson told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for this week's Northern Trust Open at the venue. "It's one of the better ones we have on tour.

"It's funny how it's become that way and it's become one of my favorite tournaments on tour, given that for a number of years I didn't play here.

"And when I came back in 2007, I lost in a playoff to Charles Howell and then won the following two years, I quickly fell in love with the place and started to appreciate it for its nuances."

INITIAL STRUGGLES

Asked to explain why he had initially struggled at Riviera, four-times major winner Mickelson replied: "I really don't know. I've always liked the golf course from day one.

"I just never played it effectively and it was by pure chance in 2007 that I added the tournament when I missed the cut at the (Bob) Hope (Classic the previous week), and I played really well.

"I just played it effectively, kind of understood the course. And I putted well on the greens."

Mickelson arrived at Riviera after a disappointing finish to his title defense at last week's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am where he closed with a 72 to end up a distant 18 shots off the pace.

Just a week before that, he had produced scintillating golf on the way to a four-shot victory at the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona.

"I had a really good two days of practice here after Pebble," said Mickelson. "I was a fraction off from Phoenix and I believe that it's now back on track.

"I'm starting to hit the ball solid again and I'm really optimistic about the week. It should be good."

Mickelson has an intriguing grouping for the first two rounds at Riviera where he will play alongside fellow Americans Haas and Keegan Bradley, the trio who contested last year's playoff.

"It's going to be a fun two days," smiled left-hander Mickelson. "I always enjoy playing with both those guys.

"I've had a chance to get to know them on the (U.S.) Presidents Cup team, Ryder Cup teams and we've really had a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the week."

Haas won last year's title at the second extra hole, sealing victory in stunning fashion by sinking a curling 43-foot birdie putt. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Remembering Ayrton Senna

Handwritten notes and flags left by fans are pictured near the memorial statue of Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna at the race track in Imola April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofal

Senna's simple grave a magnet for fans 20 years on

Ayrton Senna is as discreet in death as he was lively in life. The last resting place of Brazil's most charismatic Formula One champion is marked by a brass plaque on a circular lawn, surrounded by almost identical plaques laid into the ground.There is no headstone and just a handful of flowers in plastic pots.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Urging Optimism

Urging Optimism

Be optimistic about Brazil, says Blatter.  Full Article 

Sturridge Hopeful

Sturridge Hopeful

Sturridge hopeful of returning against Chelsea.  Full Article 

Phelps Sceptical

Phelps Sceptical

'Grandfather' Phelps plays down Rio prospects.  Full Article 

On Trial

On Trial

Formula One boss Ecclestone goes on trial in Germany.  Full Article 

Premier League

Premier League

Preview - Liverpool seek to land knockout blow on Chelsea.  Full Article 

Serie A

Serie A

Roma running out of games in pursuit of relentless Juve.  Full Article 

China Open

China Open

Dyson enjoys happy return to China, shares lead with Quiros.  Full Article 

La Liga

La Liga

No rest for weary Atletico as Valencia trip looms.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage