FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Phil Mickelson could not have asked for a better time celebrating his 39th birthday, even if his presents were a little more traditional than the head of a dinosaur or a meteorite.
Mickelson turned 39 on Tuesday, and he spent the first half of the day at home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Maybe the best present of all was eating breakfast – twice.
“We celebrated with the family. We all went to breakfast together at my favorite little breakfast joint,” he said. “And my kids brought me breakfast in bed first. But then we decided to go out.”
His wife, Amy, is awaiting surgery for breast cancer, perhaps limiting her creativity. In an interview this year with Golf Digest, Mickelson said she gave him the skeleton of a dinosaur head for his birthday last year. And at Christmas, she managed to find a meteorite from a crash in Argentina in the 1930s.
“Yeah, it was tough to top last year’s dinosaur,” he said.
She went more conventional for No. 39. Mickelson said among the gifts were sunglasses and a camera.
“I love it when she picks me out fashion stuff like sunglasses and such … because my fashion sense isn’t the best,” he said.
The camera is capable of taking 30 frames each second, which Mickelson said he will use to film his swing on the practice range instead of having to bring out the heavy equipment.
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O’HAIR ON CALL: Sean O’Hair is to tee off Thursday afternoon, but he has no idea how long his U.S. Open will last – or even if it gets started. His wife, Jackie, is expecting their third child any day.
She had back spasms Sunday, and O’Hair took her to the hospital near their home outside Philadelphia, believing she had gone into labor. It was a false alarm, so he left for Bethpage with great uncertainty.
“I’ll deal with it as it comes,” he said.
Will there be a pager in his bag, like Phil Mickelson at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999? O’Hair shook his head.
“I’m not that dramatic,” he said. “I’m not carrying a beeper.”
The ideal scenario would be for her to go into labor sometime Wednesday, allowing him to get home for the birth and back to Bethpage in time for the start. But that didn’t seem likely, and O’Hair said he would leave the U.S. Open when – or if – he got word.
“I would love to be there, and I would love to play the U.S. Open,” he said. “But sometimes, you can’t have it both ways. But you get one chance to be there for the birth of your baby. And don’t they have a U.S. Open next year?”
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CAMPBELL’S RECOVERY: Chad Campbell was playing a bunker shot at the Colonial when he heard a “pop” in his left calf.
Suddenly, he had doubts about the rest of the year, much less the U.S. Open.
But he is healed in time for Bethpage Black, and feeling almost as good as new.
“I didn’t have an MRI,” he said. “But the doctor said it was a strain or a slight tear. It didn’t swell, so that was a good thing.”
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ROMERO’S A GO: One of the perks of being the U.S. Senior Open champion is an invitation to the U.S. Open, a prize that not everyone feels they should accept. Bruce Fleischer earned a spot at Bethpage in 2002, took a look at the demanding course and decided he couldn’t compete, so he dropped out.
Eduardo Romero has a decidedly different feeling.
The 54-year-old from Argentina will be the oldest man in the 156-player field Thursday, and last year’s Senior Open champ says he’s looking forward to one of the toughest layouts he’s ever competed on.
“It’s too tough,” Romero said. “But I like playing it. I love it.”
Romero said he played a practice round Tuesday from the farthest tips at Bethpage, hitting 3-wood and 2-iron into many of the par-4s, three of which are over 500 yards.
But if he hits the fairway, he figures he’ll be able to get around as well as anyone.
“I’m still hitting it straight and hit it good,” Romero said. “Good confidence, very relaxing. And I’m very happy with the golf course. It’s tough. Very tough.”
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IMMELMAN UPDATE: Former Masters champion Trevor Immelman had to withdraw Sunday because of tendinitis in his left wrist, and tests have revealed two small tears and some bone damage.
He had a CT scan earlier Wednesday and is awaiting results.
“You obviously hate to miss any time due to injury, but it is a huge disappointment to not be ready to go for a major,” Immelman posted on his Facebook account. “As badly as I want to be there, I am following my doctor’s advice so that it will help me get back out on the golf course as soon as I can, but most importantly, getting back out there healthy.”
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WOODS’ LOFTY WOOD: Tiger Woods is using a driver with a loft of 10.5 degrees.
“As we all know, loft is your friend,” Woods said. “And the reason why you hit a 3-wood straighter is obviously because it’s got more loft. That helps. My release has changed over the years and I just need a little bit more loft now.”
When he joined the Tour, he used a driver with 6.5 degrees of loft.
“I hate to see when I get to 40, how that’s going to be, have to get a 46-inch driver and 15-degree lofted driver,” he said. “But it is what it is. Technology has changed, the ball doesn’t spin as much as it used to. You have to have more loft than you used to.”
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DIVOTS: The USGA made it official Wednesday by announcing that Oakmont, reputed to be the toughest golf course in America, will host the U.S. Open in 2016. It will be a record ninth-time for Oakmont to host the U.S. Open, and the first time since 1962 that it only had to wait nine years for another one. … Bandon Dunes in Oregon will host the U.S. Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links the same week in July 2011. Officials have not decided which of the courses will host the men. … The USGA Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History has launched the “Tiger Woods Championship Scrapbook,” an online exhibit that shows each of Woods’ nine USGA titles – three each at the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur.