Notes: Mickelson's audible; Toms' slump; more

Phil Mickelson preparing for the PGA Tour's 2014 Valero Texas Open.

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1:09:24 PM ET. 08/21/2014




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As always, there’s a story behind the story. In the case of Phil Mickelson missing the pro-am at the Shell Houston Open, for instance, well, no need to point fingers and make a case out of it.

It’s the way the sponsors want it. In fact, it’s the way they had it last year, too. And another time before that.

Sponsors reserve the right “to shift a player out of the pro-am for another sponsor function,” said a tournament director, and that’s the case with Mickelson at Houston. Shell officials have found great value in hosting Lefty at a dinner, and that’s why he’s not playing in this year’s pro-am. It has nothing to do with special treatment outside the rules.

Various players at other tournaments have been treated similarly, so it’s hardly a story.

• • •

PASSION THERE, SHORT GAME ISN’T: Having turned 47, David Toms knows when scratchy play enters the picture there is an underlying sentiment that the passion has wanted.

Not true in his case, he said.

“I’ve enjoyed playing (the last year)," he said. "I enjoy it more when I play to a higher level, though.”

Toms has missed the cut in five of his eight starts; his lone solid effort was a T-4 in Puerto Rico, a tournament the veteran thinks he should have won.

“My short game hasn’t been very good for a year and a half,” said Toms, who was 20th in FedEx Cup points in 2011 but fell to 95th a year later and 138th last season. “When you get to golf courses like this (TPC San Antonio), you’re going to miss some shots, even though I have been hitting the ball pretty well.

“But you have to capitalize, because you’re not going to have many opportunities on these tough golf courses. I’m just not capitalizing at all. That’s really been the difference. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to play.”

• • •

THE SON SHINES: In this winter of the deepest of deep freezes, you take any chance to get out of the snow and cold. Even if it means lugging dad’s golf bag.

“I don’t mind it, but it’s more fun when he’s playing well,” said Ryan Ames, 14, with a smile. It was spring break from school back in Calgary, Alberta, and the young man jumped at the chance to caddie for Stephen Ames at the Valero Texas Open. He had done it once before, at last year’s Canadian Open, so he knew his father’s opening 2-over 74 needed improvement. It did get better, too, rounds of 71-68-74 giving Ames his best finish of the season, a share of 16th.

All in all, a happy week for Team Ames, even if the Texas heat was a tough adjustment.

“I’m sweating buckets,” Ryan said.

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