Truth & Rumors: Mickelson says he can't find his game

Phil Mickelson has been a New Jersey favorite since his win at the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol, and he got the rock-start treatment during his appearance at Ridgewood Country Club in Ridgewood, N.J., to promote the Barclays tournament -- maybe not Springsteen-level, but certainly Bon Jovi. Conor Orr from The Star Ledger said everyone on the course stopped when Mickelson made his way to the first tee.

A pack of club regulars and caddies returning from their round saw the world’s No. 2 golfer wielding his driver and came to a standstill. Mickelson wound up and uncoiled into his rapid downswing.
Their heads followed as the aspirin-sized contour of the ball plunked into the rough along the right side of the fairway. “Just need to hit a few of these,” Mickelson said, laughing, over-exaggerating a back stretch. “Get loosened up.”
If you’ve watched Mickelson’s cheerful demeanor this summer, you’d never guess he’s in the midst of a slump. However, he did acknowledge at Ridgewood that he hasn’t been playing well lately and he’s not sure why.
But Mickelson’s lightheartedness may have been a ruse, perhaps masking some hidden anxiety. Admittedly, his swing isn’t where he wants it to be. And for the first time in more than five years, Mickelson has a legitimate shot at the top spot in the World Golf Rankings. Tiger Woods has had a firm grasp on the slot for 270 consecutive weeks. “I don’t know exactly where my game is,” Mickelson said. “I didn’t play well in Europe, I’ve had two weeks off, I haven’t really played great golf in six or seven weeks. I won’t know until I get out there and play a championship course.”
And the No. 1 ranking?
“Absolutely (No. 1) matters, absolutely it does. It would be a very important thing.”
Judas Priest guitarist designs golf course Sign of the apocalypse No. 1,983. The guitarist for Judas Priest, the band which brought you such albums as “Killing Machine” and “Sin After Sin,” has a new release coming this fall: a golf course in Shropshire, England. The Shropshire News reports:
Musician Ken Downing will be opening up the course at his home, Astbury Hall, near Bridgnorth. The first nine holes he designed have been played by small groups since they opened this year.
But in mid-September the remaining holes will be unveiled and the course covering 150 acres opened fully to the public. Mr. Downing, who is known to his fans as KK and has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide, said: “Astbury Hall has been borne from my experiences on golf courses from around the world."
There is no truth to the rumors that followers of the Prince of Darkness will receive 20 percent off greens fees. Akron is home sweet home for Aussie Appleby OK, so Akron lost LeBron. But they added Stuart Appleby. Jodie Valade of The Cleveland Plain-Dealer explains how the WCG-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, is a home game for native Australian Stuart Appleby, who’s coming off a final round 59 and his first Tour win in more than four years.
He hopes it's the kind of momentum-shifting victory that can turn around a slumping game and a streak of 358 consecutive rounds without shooting better than 65.
And he hopes the home cooking of his in-laws in North Canton, while having his wife and three young children nearby, can provide the kind of comfortable return he has experienced in 12 straight Bridgestone Invitational appearances.
"I feel like a local here more than any other tournament," said the Australian-born Appleby. "I can't think of another tournament that feels so familiar." Part of that is because Firestone Country Club is where Appleby first met Ashley, then a 21-year-old senior at Mount Union. Appleby was only two years removed from the tragic death of his first wife, Renay, who was crushed between two cars at a London train station after the 1998 British Open. Appleby and Ashley had dinner after they met briefly at the golf course, visited Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens and began a romance that would result in their 2002 marriage.
We know Appleby is white-hot right now. If he’s comfortable in Akron and likes the course, look for him to be a contender this week. Stray Shots Stuff we saw while the kids were having nightmares about the Whistling Straits PGA Championship logo... Ernie Els has an explanation for Stuart Appleby and Paul Goydos shooting 59s this summer. Els joked that the PGA Tour is creating easier set-ups to get TV ratings. We’re not laughing. (Via The New York Times)
Greg Norman told Louis Oosthuizan that Oosthuizan was the first player to get Norman to watch all 18 holes of a golf tournament on television. Sorry, Tiger. (Via ASAP Sports)
Let me get this straight. Healthy, young Tour pros take time off all season, but 52-year-old Bernhard Langer wins back-to-back majors in two weeks on two continents and then is signing autographs at the 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities the following Tuesday. New PGA Tour motto: These Guys Are Lazy. (Via The Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

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by Kevin Cunningham