See why Phil withdrew from The Memorial


See why Phil withdrew from The Memorial

From Comcast SportsNet
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- Phil Mickelson hit the wall and then headed for the exit, withdrawing from the Memorial after a 79 on Thursday because of mental fatigue. Mickelson said it was more important for him to be rested for the U.S. Open in two weeks than to finish Jack Nicklaus' tournament. He attributed the fatigue to playing three straight weeks, and then going to Europe to celebrate his wife's 40th birthday. He returned home to play a corporate outing Tuesday in New York, flew to Ohio for the pro-am and found his head wasn't in the game. "The course here is in such great shape. It's a beautiful way to get ready for the U.S. Open," he said. "But I'm hitting it so poorly that ... I have to look at what's best for me to play in the U.S. Open, and I'm going to take the next few days to kind of rest up." It's not unusual for players to withdraw after a high score -- it was Mickelson's worst in the 13 trips to the Memorial -- and three other players withdrew Thursday. But it's rare when the player is of Mickelson's stature, a four-time major champion inducted this month into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Mickelson could not think of another time he withdrew without physical injury. "I feel like it's the responsibility of a player to see through your commitment and finish the tournament and so forth," Mickelson said. "And I'm kind of overruling that just a touch, because I'm trying to think big picture on what's the best way for me to get ready for the Open." The last time Mickelson withdrew was also at the Memorial in 2007, only then he had injured his wrist while practicing out of the rough at Oakmont for the U.S. Open, and he stopped after 11 holes. Mickelson wound up missing the cut at Oakmont. Mickelson played Quail Hollow, The Players Championship and the Byron Nelson Championship, and then headed to France and Italy with his wife, Amy. "We had a great time, but I think I probably just went a little bit overboard last month, and it has nothing to do with playing poorly and so forth," he said. "But I do think I need to get rested to play my best for the Open." Mickelson said he likely would see swing coach Butch Harmon to "get things straightened out," and go up to The Olympic Club in San Francisco to study the course. Mickelson has finished runner-up a record five times in his national open. Whether it was more than fatigue, Mickelson wasn't saying. His group, which included Masters champion Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler, had a massive gallery with several fans taking pictures with their cellphones. Watson complained about the cellphones, though Mickelson said it was "more that mentally I wasn't able to focus as well from the last month." But it's not unlike Mickelson to deliver a message, regardless of criticism that comes his way. When he and Tiger Woods first talked about the PGA Tour season being too long in 2005, Mickelson cited personal reasons for skipping the Tour Championship. He also skipped the BMW Championship during the first year of the FedEx Cup playoffs. He was no fan of Cog Hill, though that WD was said to be more about a debate with the tour. Mickelson was even par for the tournament with a birdie on the par-5 11th, and then he played 7-over par the rest of the way, including a tee shot into the water on the par-3 16th for a double bogey. "I knew he was struggling throughout the day," Fowler said. "You could tell he was a little tired. He's been traveling a bit lately. He told us there in the trailer when we were signing the cards. Obviously, it was a little bit of a grind out there today." Fowler said players had to restart their pre-shot routines because of the pictures being taken by fans. "You could see Phil was a little fatigued and was having trouble blocking it out a bit," Fowler said. Watson said the phones have been "pretty bad ever since they made that rule" that allows fans to take phones on the course, although pictures are not allowed and there are designated areas to make calls. "When they make these marquee pairings, more people are going to follow them and more people want to take pictures, so it makes it very difficult," Watson said. "Ever since they made that rule that cellphones are allowed, it's just not fun playing. "It took Phil out of his game," Watson said. "Phil's a great player and a great champion, and it just took him out of his game. It's sad. It's sad that cellphones can make or break a championship."

Quick Links

Capitals' Daniel Winnik avoids concussion, ear damage after being struck by puck

Capitals' Daniel Winnik avoids concussion, ear damage after being struck by puck

Daniel Winnik acknowledged on Saturday that he was fortunate to have avoided serious facial and/or head injuries when he was struck with a slap shot Thursday night.

Winnik’s ear, which was originally described as “missing a piece”, is actually in decent shape. In fact, there’s no visible damage or scar. Trainers, he said, used glue to close up a small laceration.

“No visible missing piece,” Winnik chuckled. “The puck hit basically half ear [or] maybe a little more ear than helmet. Very fortunate it wasn’t way worse. … When it hit me, I was like s***, this could have been a lot worse. I don’t know you if guys have ever been in the freezing cold playing around and then you get smacked in the ear. It's like that stinging, tingling, numb. That’s pretty much what it felt like for five, 10 minutes or so.”

RELATED: Q&A: Who has impressed and where do the Caps need to improve?

Coach Barry Trotz echoed Winnik’s sentiments. He also took the blame for making the injury sound a lot worse than it actually was.

“It wasn’t as bad as it was first reported,” Trotz said jokingly. “Anytime you get hit in the ear with a puck, it’s going to get chewed up.  I really didn’t see it before, but it’s not as bad as quoted…by me.”

Winnik also said there were no concussion concerns.

“That was probably the biggest thing I dodged, was that I didn’t have a concussion,” he said.

The Capitals fourth liner added: “It was hard to eat after the game, as well. Even opening my mouth [hurt]. When [Marcus Johansson] scored and I got up, I and gave a big, ‘Yeah.’ Then I was like, ‘Ouch, crap.’”

The injury occurred midway through the third period of the Capitals’ 4-2 win in South Florida as the visitors attempted to kill off a penalty. Winnik went down to block Reilly Smith’s point shot, but ended up getting a lot more than he bargained for.

“I was trying to block it,” Winnik explained. “Then he drags it around me and then, when he was kinda past me, I knew I had to turn my head or else it could have been a lot worse. If I didn’t turn my head, then it’s probably hitting me in the jaw or something.”

Winnik said the close call will not change his attitude on visors and/or ear protection. He’s the only Capitals player who doesn’t wear a visor. He also does not don the plastic ear tab that comes with the helmet.

“My face has been banged up a lot over the years and I still haven’t worn a visor,” he said. “I’ve probably broken my nose like 15 times or something. I just can’t wear it.”

Asked if his wife, Taylor, has urged him to wear the visor or ear tab, Winnik said: “No, she’s fine with it. We both know whenever my playing days are done I’m going to need some facial surgeries somewhere along the way.”


Quick Links

Redskins vs Lions Preview: 5 things to know as Washington goes to the Motor City

Redskins vs Lions Preview: 5 things to know as Washington goes to the Motor City

Five wins in a row – it’s almost hard to fathom considering how dire the Redskins season looked after losing to the Dallas Cowboys in September dropped Washington to an 0-2 record. Now, after winning four straight, the ‘Skins are firmly back in the NFC playoff picture and have the chance to tack on another win Sunday in Detroit. The game is indoors at Ford Field so weather won’t be an issue, kickoff is set for 1 p.m., but all the coverage starts on Redskins Kickoff at noon on CSN. These are the storylines we will be watching most:

  1. Hit the gas – In wins over the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins got out to early 14-0 leads. Only the team then coughed up those leads, allowing both squads back into games that instead should have been blowouts. If Washington can build an early lead on the road will be a big advantage, but they need to continue to pile up points and not let the Lions hang around.
  2. Cage the Lions – Detroit’s offense is quite effective, in fact the Lions rank No. 12 in the NFL in points-per-game, three spots ahead of the Redskins. QB Matt Stafford is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and has thrown 14 TDs through six games. The Redskins defense, however, has been nearly dominant in their last two games and hasn’t given up an offensive touchdown in the last seven quarters.
  3. No Reed option – Diagnosed with a concussion after the win in Baltimore, Redskins tight end Jordan Reed will miss the Lions game. He also missed the Eagles game, which saw the ‘Skins roll up nearly 500 yards of offense. Reed is a dynamic threat at tight end, but without him, veteran Vernon Davis stepped in against Philly and had two catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Losing Reed is a blow for the ‘Skins, but they should be able to continue to pile up yards and points without him.
  4. Statistically speaking – There is an interesting disparity looking at the Lions and Redskins offensive stats. Detroit is scoring more points than Washington, yet the Lions are gaining significantly less yards per game and yards per play. Jay Gruden’s squad ranks No. 2 in the NFL in yards per play, Detroit ranks 14th. Washington is tied for 5th in yards per game, the Lions are 18th. Obviously, Sean McVay’s offense is moving the ball better than Detroit, but red zone issues have been consistent for the Redskins. The numbers point to an explosion of touchdowns, could this be the week?
  5. No (big) mistakes – Last week against the Eagles, the Redskins defense stifled Carson Wentz and held Philly’s offense mostly in check. The sole reason that game was close were big plays – a pick-six touchdown by Malcolm Jenkins after intercepting a Cousins pass and a kick return touchdown. Defensively, the Redskins have significantly improved at eliminating big plays. Against Detroit, special teams and the offense must focus on not giving up big plays or turning the ball over.

Numbers & Notes:

  • Opposing offenses have been able to run on the Redskins, but Detroit comes into the game with just the 26th best running attack in the NFL.
  • Ryan Kerrigan will make his 87th consecutive start on Sunday – tied for third most among active NFL linebackers. Kerrigan has never missed a start in his career.
  • Against Philadelphia, Matt Jones ran for 135 yards, a career high, and the most Redskins rush yards since Alfred Morris went for 139 against the Vikings in November 2013.
  • Dustin Hopkins has made 15 field goals this season – 1st in the NFC and tied for first in the NFL.
  • On punt returns, Jamison Crowder and the Redskins are averaging 18.8 yards-per-return, which ranks 1st in the NFL.
  • The Redskins offense ranks 1st in the NFL with the fewest amount of 3 & Out drives.
  • If Kirk Cousins passes for 300 yards on Sunday, that will mark his 15th game with 300 passing yards, and he will take second place in Redskins history for most 300-yard games, moving past Joe Theismann.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below.