Mickelson (back) to defend Waste Management

The Daily Dan for Thursday, January 30, 2014

Links Thursday:


Phil Mickelson is going to play.  That is music to the ears of everyone at PGA headquarters not to mention the organizers of this week’s Waste Management Open at TPC Scottsdale outside Phoenix.  From a health and wellness standpoint it has been a dodgy start to 2014 in men’s golf.  Mickelson’s first stateside start was derailed by a bad back that forced him to withdraw after the 2nd Round of last weekend’s event at Torrey Pines.  He saw a specialist this week and announced late Wednesday that he will tee it up as scheduled on Thursday at 10:15 EST.


Mickelson is a top attraction wherever he plays but two factors make him that much more enticing to watch this week.  First, he attended Arizona State which makes him as much of a golfing legend as there is in the area.  Second, he is the defending champion after he opened last year’s event with a course-record tying 60.  It was not Mickelson’s first time shooting 60 at Scottsdale.  A putt on 18 for a 59 took a ride around the outskirts of the cup but refused to go down.  At week’s end Mickelson had tied Mark Calcavecchia’s tournament record.


At Torrey Pines, Mickelson was joined on the Sunday sidelines by Tiger Woods whose 79 on Saturday was enough to leave him off the secondary cut.  Woods is in Dubai for an exhibition this week and said not to read too much into the 79, but that’s a story we have heard before.  Remember last year when Woods’s game suddenly went south at Muirfield Village? He told us not to worry then either, and then he went to the U.S. Open and never came close to contending.


Adam Scott is in a self-imposed, six-week exile from golf to recharge his batteries in his effort to add to his Masters win last year.  Rory McIlroy began 2014 as he ended 2013—which is to say playing well—but has yet to appear on U.S. soil.


That aside there is a strong field assembled for the Waste Management and the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is worth a watch on its own.  The hole is a simple, par 3, but the green is set beneath stadium seating where golf etiquette takes a temporary back seat and fans routinely jeer, heckle, and needle players about everything from their golf swing to any embarrassing tidbit they can glean.  It sounds like fun, but nerves can get frayed especially on Sunday.


As usual there will be several power groups for the first two days.  Last week’s winner Scott Stallings is in with Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan (9:57 am EST.)  Mickelson is set to play next to Bill Haas and Ryan Moore (10:15 am EST.)  Ian Poulter will get to be reminded of his Major Championship void when he walks with Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley (10:06 am EST.)  Lee Westwood and Brandst Snedeker are fun to watch which will give Harris English a larger than usual group tailing him (2:07 pm EST.)  Kyle Stanley, a dramatic winner two years ago the week after he tripled the last hole at Torrey Pines to blow the win, will play with U.S. Open winners-gone-bad Geoff Ogilvy and Lucas Glover (2:25 pm EST).  And the man Stanley beat in 2012, Spencer Levin, us back for more, grouped with Jason Bohn and Michael Putnam (11:00 am EST.)

Other thoughts, news, happenings, and tid-bits

NBA:  Manu Ginobili has a strained hamstring and will miss 3-4 weeks.  Ginobili was injured making a dunk during Tuesday’s loss in Houston.


NASCAR:  The 2014 Chase format will be announced Thursday and the expectation is for the field to be expanded to 16.  The more significant change will be eliminating drivers at different stages throughout the 10 races.  Count us as skeptical, but let’s see how it looks first.


Tennis:  Roger Federer is a surprise member of the Swiss Davis Cup team that will play in Serbia starting Friday.  He will team with Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka to lead a side that will now be a heavy favorite against a Serbian team without any of its three Top 100 players.


NHL:  The Coyotes will broaden their marketing next season when they change their name to the Arizona Coyotes.  The switch follows in the footsteps of the Cardinals who dropped Phoenix for Arizona in 1994.


CFL:  The Argonauts used an interesting tactic in their effort to retain Zach Collaros.  They released him.  The logic makes sense.  They were not about to stop Collaros from testing the market when free agency opens February 15.  By releasing him they will allow him to test the market now, giving them a clear picture of the situation when free agency arrives.  Collaros proved an adequate backup to Ricky Ray last season in Toronto and figures to draw interest from other clubs.

Stats Corner

NHL:  Ben Scrivens set an NHL record Wednesday night when he stopped all 59 shots the Sharks sent at him.  The 59 saves is 5 more than the previous NHL record for a shutout game, set by Mike Smith in April 2012.  It was Scrivens’s 1st shutout as an Oiler after posting 3 for the Kings earlier this season.


NHL:  Joel Quenneville’s climb up the ranks of coaching wins has reached the 3rd rung.  Quenneville was behind the bench for the Blackhawks’ 5-2 win in Vancouver on Wednseday and now has 693 regular season wins.  That is one more than Dick Irvin who coached for 27 seasons spanning 1929 and 1956.  He coached Stanley Cup winning teams in Toronto (1932) and Montreal (1944, 1946, and 1953.)  The only coaches with more wins than Quenneville are Scotty Bowman (1,244) and Al Arbour (781.)

The Archive
1/27: Wawrinka wins Aussie Open
1/28: Charting older dirt routers
1/29: Media Day overwhelms, underwhelms
1/30: Mickelson will play
1/31: Super Bowl highlights weekend
The Daily Dan is published on most weekday mornings, some weekends, and whenever it seems appropriate