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PGA NOTES

Mickelson Hopes Major Drought Is Over at 45

August 13, 2003|Chris Dufresne and Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Mike Weir won his first major this year. So did Jim Furyk and Ben Curtis.

Meanwhile, the drought continues in the maddeningly successful career of Phil Mickelson, who is 0 for 45 in major tournaments.

"I hadn't really thought about it much," Mickelson said Tuesday about the pressure to win. "I want to win just as bad as I always have, and I'll be trying just as hard as I always have."

As in other majors, Mickelson has had his PGA chances. In 2001 at the Atlanta Athletic Club, he lost a final-round battle with David Toms, who won his first major with help from a hole in one in the third round.

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The Northeast has been deluged with rainfall this summer, making the Oak Hill Country Club course softer than usual.

You might think this would lead to low scores, but the groundskeepers have let the rough grow and raised the blades with a rake.

"It feels pretty much like a U.S. Open kind of course," Sergio Garcia said. "I think all of the rain has made this rough become thicker and you can get some really bad lies out there."

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Ninety-six of the world's top 100 players are in this year's 156-player field. Ever wonder how you qualify to play in the PGA?

Spots are reserved for:

* PGA champions.

* Winners of the last five Masters, U.S. Opens and British Opens.

* The 2003 Senior PGA Champion.

* The 15 low scores and ties from last year's PGA.

* The 25 low scorers in the 2003 PGA Club Professionals Championship.

* The top 70 money leaders from the 2002 Buick Open through the 2003 International.

* Members of the 2002 U.S. Ryder Cup Team.

* Winners of tournaments co-sponsored or approved by the PGA Tour from last year's PGA championship to the 2003 PGA.

* Special exemptions provided by PGA of America.

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The Davis Love III Story: Many Happy Returns?

Love's four victories this year have all come in events he had won before (Pebble Beach, the Players Championship, MCI Heritage, The International), so that might mean something this week at the PGA Championship. Love won the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot.

On the other hand ... no player has won the week before a major and then won the major since 1988, when Sandy Lyle won at Greensboro, followed by the Masters.

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Weir has won the Masters and two other tournaments, he's one of four players (Tiger Woods, Love and Kenny Perry) with at least three victories and he's a candidate for player of the year. But that doesn't mean Weir knows how it's chosen. The answer is that the players vote.

"Is it voted on? I'm not sure it's voted on by the peers. I'm not sure of that," Weir said.

Well, yes, Mike it is. What has Weir been doing with his ballot the last few years?

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Ernie Els was asked whether he voted for Mark O'Meara or David Duval for player of the year in 1998, when O'Meara won two majors, but Duval won four times.

"I always lean towards majors, guys who have won majors," Els said.

But?

"I think it would be unfair for me to answer, but I think I answered it anyway."

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