wire-to-wire romp in the BellSouth Classic (28-under-par 260) at the TPC at
Sugarloaf outside Atlanta was the lowest 72-hole total of his career and the
ninth of his 28 wins to come on a TPC course. The smashing showing was also a
key part of his intensive Masters prep, which started in earnest the week of
the Players Championship. In Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Mickelson spent two
pretournament days working with his swing coach, Rick Smith. Then after the
event Mickelson flew to Augusta for a series of practice rounds. He hit so many
balls that he arrived at Sugarloaf with tape around two of the fingers of his
left hand. In fact, the only thing that slowed him down at the BellSouth was
overpreparing for his Saturday round: He spent 40 minutes on a StairMaster
before practicing for about three hours. The fatigue showed at the 18th when
Mickelson's four-wood from 239 yards came up short, leading to a double bogey.
He'll be sure not to make that mistake at Augusta. Says Smith, "His
performance this week puts an exclamation point on preparation." ... Over
the previous six years Mickelson has played both the BellSouth and the Masters
and has been out of the top 10 in either event only once. His two best finishes
at Sugarloaf (wins) were followed by his two worst at Augusta (seventh and
10th). His two worst finishes at the BellSouth (10th and an MC) were followed
by two of his best at the Masters (first and third). Hmmm....
dad, B.J., was whooping and hollering so loud at the Kraft Nabisco last
Thursday that Michelle whispered to her caddie (in angst-ridden teen fashion),
"My dad is embarrassing me." B.J. was no more restrained the next day,
when he was bellowing and pumping his fist whenever Michelle made a putt, and
leading the charge to the next tee, often while partner Ai Miyazato was trying
to hole out.... CBS's Sunday telecast of the LPGA's first major drew a 1.8
overnight rating, up 64% from last year but still behind NBC's suspense-free
showing of the BellSouth, which garnered a 2.5.
? Karrie Webb's 31st LPGA win was her 13th come-from-behind victory, and the
largest of her career, as she made up seven shots with a final-round 65.
? For live
Masters coverage, go to SI.com/golf.