Greenbrier notebook: Motivated Mickelson vows no distractions

Douglas Imbrogno
Phil Mickelson hopes to fare better at the Greenbrier Classic than he did last year, when he missed the cut.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Phil Mickelson will leave the whitewater rafting to his family this week. He has a score to settle with the Old White TPC.Mickelson came to last year's Greenbrier Classic as the face of the tournament, but fizzled out in a 70-73 blaze of futility, missing the cut.The 42-year-old Californian learned one of the hazards of the Classic - all those extracurricular activities. The Classic is one of the very few PGA Tour event where players can step off the course right into a luxury resort chock full of activities.Balancing work and play can be as tough as a 10-foot downhill putt.
"Yeah, it's a challenge, but I'm pretty motivated," Mickelson said Wednesday, after his pro-am round. "After my performance last year, I really wanted to improve on that."I really do enjoy competing on this golf course, I think it's a wonderful test of golf, and I also think it's well-suited to my game. I'll try to put a little bit more time into my physical preparation and mental preparation, because I wasn't happy with the way I competed last year."He played the pro-am with one of the most interesting amateur trios - Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Greenbrier president Jeff Kmiec and Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer."We had a fun day and it was really interesting to have such a range of conversations, talking sports, talking football with Coach Beamer and then being able to talk politics and hear what's going on in the world and in the state of Kentucky, as well as here at The Greenbrier."It was a fun day, a very insightful day."In May, Mickelson was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. In February, he won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and is eighth in the FedExCup standings.He has slipped a little in the world rankings, from sixth entering the 2011 Classic to a current 15th.
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  • Tiger Woods comes to The Greenbrier as the leader in the FedExCup standings, rising to that level for the first time in 100 weeks. He became the season's seventh leader, ahead of Jason Dufner by 103 points.Woods is the only player in the top seven here, but Nos. 8-10 (Mickelson, Webb Simpson, Carl Pettersson) are in the field. In all, 14 of the top 30, 35 of the top 70 and 54 of the top 100 will start play here today.Those three levels are significant in the FedExCup playoffs, which begin in late August. This is the 27th week, so time is running short.The winner this week earns 500 points, the usual number for tour events. (The four majors and the Players Championship are worth 600.) The scale goes down to one point for 70th place.
    The top 125 on Aug. 19 advance to the four-week playoffs, where the point scale is quintupled. The first playoff tournament cuts the field to 120, the second to 70 and the third to 30. Those 30 play at the Tour Championship in Atlanta Sept. 20-23.At that point, the perks are nice. Those 30 players receive higher priority in entering tournaments and qualify for all four major tournaments the next year.The best perk is the cash. When Bill Haas hit the shot of the year out of the water at No. 18 last year in Atlanta, he won the tournament, the FedExCup and a cool $10 million bonus. All told, there is $35 million in bonus money. The scale runs from Haas' $10 million to $70,000 for 125th place. Even the next 25 who didn't make the playoffs pocket $32,000.
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  • From the Lemonade Made from Lemons Dept.: With the two large trees to the left of the 18th tee a casualty of last week's storm, a new grandstand was erected before Wednesday's play. With that, the finishing par-3 is even more of a stadium hole."I think it's different. I think it's cool," Mickelson said.
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  • Mickelson is hard-pressed to name a favorite hole. As he pondered a question on the subject, the other two par 3s slipped out.The tour's design connoisseurs generally love the 98-year-old Old White, and they know well the name of designer C.B. Macdonald."I think that the holes here have such special character to them that, again, I try to learn from them," Mickelson said. "From the eighth hole, that Redan par-3, really a great hole, all the way to the third hole, which is a totally different par-3, but every bit as great."I love the character and the nuances of each hole."
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  • PGA Tour statistical leaders teeing off today:
  • Money leader: Woods, $4,220,398
  • Scoring average: Woods, 69.04
  • All-around ranking (combined ranking of several categories): Keegan Bradley
  • Total driving (distance, accuracy ranks): John Rollins
  • Birdie average: Webb Simpson, 4.13
  • Scrambling (making par or better despite missing green in regulation): Chris Stroud, 64.78 percent
  • Average proximity to hole: Ben Curtis, 32 feet, 9 inches
  • Strokes gained, putting (a math geek's nirvana): Curtis, .872
  • Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, or follow him at Fedexcup points standings - top 50Rank Player Points 1  Tiger Woods  1,952  2  Jason Dufner  1,849 3  Hunter Mahan  1,654   4  Bubba Watson  1,617 5  Matt Kuchar  1,423  6  Zach Johnson  1,420 7  Rory McIlroy 1,372  8  Phil Mickelson  1,313  9  Webb Simpson  1,298 10  Carl Pettersson  1,258  
    11  Rickie Fowler  1,197 12  Justin Rose  1,169 13  Johnson Wagner   1,142 14  Luke Donald  1,070  15  Kyle Stanley  1,038  16  John Huh  1,034 17  Jim Furyk   965 18  Bo Van Pelt  964  19  Mark Wilson  940  20  Marc Leishman  936 21  Dustin Johnson 923 22  Bill Haas  922 23  Ben Curtis 920 24 Keegan Bradley 915 25  Steve Stricker   91126  Martin Laird  910  27  Brandt Snedeker  888  28  Robert Garrigus  818  29  Graeme McDowell  812 30 Ernie Els   802  31  Ben Crane  793 32  Kevin Na  779  33  Charlie Wi  727  34  John Rollins  719  35  Ryan Palmer  697 36  Spencer Levin  695 37  Lee Westwood  690 38  Louis Oosthuizen  690  39  Brian Davis   673 40  D.A. Points  662  41  Brendon de Jonge  659 42  Jonathan Byrd  655 43  Matt Every  641 44  Michael Thompson  628  45  Cameron Tringale  62846  Charley Hoffman  625 47  Charles Howell III  62348  Ken Duke  622  49  Seung-Yul Noh  616  50  John Senden  604  
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