WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Phil Mickelson has tinkered for years to get just the right formula for peaking at the majors.
Just 15 days before the start of the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, the popular lefty is playing the Greenbrier Classic for the first time as he settles into a three-week stretch of tournaments that he hopes will end with his fifth major championship title and second Wanamaker Trophy.
"I had a good tournament there at the British [Open, where he tied for second place], and I felt like I kind of turned a corner," Mickelson said after a session on the driving range prior to his noon tee time in the Wednesday pro-am. "I'm starting to put things together slowly, be a little bit more patient and enjoy my time on the course and be more creative hitting shots again. It was a good week for me for that, and I'm excited about the next three-week stretch here."
Mickelson, No. 6 in the world, is by far the biggest name in the Greenbrier field, which features only three of the top 40. He has never played the course but said he liked the look of it on TV last year, when Stuart Appleby won with a final-round 59. Jim Mackay, Mickelson's caddie, walked the course Tuesday.
"He really liked it," Mickelson said. "He thought it was going to fit well."
Carnoustie hosts its first Women's British Open
Cristie Kerr ran into Jean Van de Velde at the Evian Masters last week, but she didn't mention that she was about to play the Ricoh Women's British Open at Carnoustie — the course where Van de Velde famously lost the 1999 British Open.
"It honestly really didn't come up," Kerr said. "We talked more about wine because he really loves wine. It was the gala dinner last Saturday night at the Royal Hotel in Evian, so it was more about wine than Carnoustie. He just wished me good luck."
The weather has been benign so far, but there's rain in the forecast, and players are getting ready for the worst and hoping for the best.
"I normally carry a 5- and a 7-wood," said Paula Creamer. "This week I have some rescues and hybrids, and I put in a 4-iron and a different 5-iron in my bag, and I only have three wedges instead of four. You do have to adapt."
Suzann Pettersen spoke at Carnoustie about the horrifying bombing and shooting spree that killed a reported 76 people in her home country of Norway.
"Really, what's amazing through all this is how we all stick together," she said. "We stay strong together. Obviously no one can do anything about what actually happened, but we can all stay together for the future. It's just so sad."
The Women's Open will feature the top 15 players in the Rolex Rankings and players from 25 countries. Strange trivia: Nikki Foster , a 19-year-old amateur who shot 69 Monday to get into the field, is the daughter of Trevor Foster, who led the 1988 British Open as an amateur after 11 holes.
Bernhard Langer defends at U.S. Senior Open
Bob Tway, whose son, Kevin, just turned pro, hopes for a repeat victory at this week's U.S. Senior Open at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, where Tway holed out from a bunker to beat Greg Norman at the 1986 PGA Championship.
This marks the second senior major in a row for the 50-and-over set, which played the Senior British Open last week at Walton Heath.
Russ Cochran, playing with his son Reed on the bag, won and moved to second place in the Charles Schwab Cup points race, behind Tom Lehman. Third-place Tom Watson chose to play the Greenbrier this week, as did Tom Pernice, Jr., who tied for second at the PGA Tour's Viking Classic two weeks ago.
Cochran now has three career victories on the Champions Tour while Mark Calcavecchia, who finished second to Cochran at Walton Heath, has none. Who would have predicted that? Not me.
Amateurs cleaning up on Nationwide
Pros in search of a ticket to the PGA Tour head to the Nationwide's Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club in Sandy, Utah, but the focus is on the amateurs. Harris English became the second amateur and second University of Georgia Bulldog to win on the Nationwide this season at the Children's Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend.
English was paired for the final two rounds with Georgia teammate Russell Henley, who won the Nationwide's Stadion Classic in May.
"The amateurs today are pros," Tom Watson said Tuesday. "They are not amateurs. They play a lot of competition, and they have the trainers like the pros do, they have the coaches like the pros do, they have the video equipment like the pros do. What do you call them? A.I.N.O.s — Amateurs in Name Only, I guess."
Clarke back in action at Irish Open
Darren Clarke will go for a British-Irish double at the Irish Open at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, where he'll have competition from his countrymen Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington. Ross Fisher defends.
Seven Days in Utopia, a golf movie featuring Robert Duvall and Oscar winner Melissa Leo, will premiere at Atlanta's Performing Arts Centre on Aug. 8, the Monday of PGA Championship week. ... Dale Douglass will tee off in his 26th straight U.S. Senior Open this week, surpassing Arnold Palmer's 25 straight. ... Five players have competed in every Champions Tour event in 2011: Gary Hallberg, Tom Kite, Mike Reid, Jeff Sluman and Rod Spittle. ... While Reed Cochran caddied for his dad at the Senior British Open, his brother Ryan caddied for Mike Goodes, who tied for seventh. ... The Ladies Golf Union and IMG confirmed that Royal Birkdale will host the 2014 Ricoh Women's British. ... Mickelson and Tom Watson, who will play the first two rounds together at the Greenbrier, both have 39 career victories. ... Three men have had two top-10s in the majors this year. Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel come to mind immediately, but not so the third member of the threesome: Sergio Garcia, who tied for seventh at the U.S. Open and tied for ninth at the British. He's at the Greenbrier, where he played mixed doubles tennis on Tuesday afternoon.