Mickelson Returns to Big Gallery in Round One of St. Jude Classic - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Jarvis Greer

Mickelson Returns to Big Gallery in Round One of St. Jude Classic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Brian Gay still has a chance to earn a

berth in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black by winning the St. Jude


Not that he really thought about it until someone mentioned it

to him.

Gay shot a 6-under 64 Thursday for a one-stroke lead over Jimmy

Walker after the opening round at TPC Southwind, and the man who

missed Open qualifying by three strokes on Monday had written off

any chance of playing next week in New York.

The USGA has one spot for a multiple PGA Tour winner over the

last calendar year. The others competing here who would qualify

with a win include Richard S. Johnson, Parker McLachlin, Michael

Bradley and Jerry Kelly.

"For some reason, I didn't even think about obviously winning

here would be two wins between," Gay said. "Somebody mentioned it

I think yesterday but didn't really think about it. Just figured I

would have next week off."

Gay missed the Masters when he ranked 31st on the money list

with invites going to the top 30, and he ranked 57th in the world

with the top 50 going to the U.S. Open. He rebounded by winning the

Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, withdrew at The Players

Championship, missed the cut at the Byron Nelson and tied for 27th

at Colonial after shooting a final-round 64.

A rib injury caused back spasms on his last night at the Byron

Nelson, requiring treatment to get him through Colonial. Gay said

he had further treatment last week during his time off, which

cleared up his back spasms. But he still has a tight neck that

didn't hamper him Thursday as he hit 14 of 18 greens and needed

only 26 putts to card seven birdies with a lone bogey.

"I don't know if there's something else going on in there or

not. I don't think it's bothering me as far as swinging the club,

but just kind of a pain in the neck," he said.


UNEXPECTED START: Jose Maria Olazabal didn't expect to find

himself on the leaderboard after the first round, not with the

arthritis that prevents him from scheduling more than four weeks


But he carded a bogey-free 4-under 66 for his best round this

year, putting him two strokes back of Brian Gay in a tie for third

after what he called an excellent day.

"I didn't expect it to be honest, but that's the game of

golf," Olazabal said.

This is only his fourth event this year following 2008 when he

made only four PGA Tour starts. But Olazabal tied for sixth at

Hilton Head for his first top 10 since 2007. He said he is feeling

OK, not 100 percent or pain free. He credits trainers with treating

him and keeping him going.

"I'm pushing myself as much as I can," he said.

Olazabal tied for 36th at Memorial and followed up with 36 holes

in an U.S. Open qualifier on Monday. On Thursday, he took advantage

of a course softened a bit by a thunderstorm before the round

started followed by some spotty rain early.

Next up will be the French Open, then he will try to qualify for

the British Open. And his health issues?

"It's something that I don't wish on anybody," he said.


HALF DAY: For Swede Mathias Gronberg, the chance to play only 18

holes instead of 36 Thursday seemed like an easy day at the office.

That's because it was compared to his own personal golf marathon

that featured 36 holes on Sunday followed by another 36 on Monday.

Unable to play at Memorial, Gronberg went to the Nationwide Tour

last week where he won the Prince George's County Open, playing 36

holes and going 12 under with no bogeys on Sunday. He then had a

3½-hour drive back to New Jersey that night before rising early

Monday for a two-hour drive to the U.S. Open qualifier at Purchase,

N.Y., for another 36.

He missed qualifying by seven strokes.

A little tired and stiff from his personal golf marathon,

Gronberg spent Tuesday at home napping in the morning and afternoon

broken up by playing with his children. He arrived in Memphis on

Wednesday and had some practice in the afternoon.

"I actually was walking up 17 fairway and I was thinking, `Oh I

feel really good' especially when I knew that I didn't have to play

another round of golf," Gronberg said.

"It prepares you. Obviously I played very good golf Sunday ...

and that really gave me a good confident boost hopefully for the

rest of the year, not only for this tournament but for the rest of

the year."

The result was a 4-under 66 that was a stroke off his best round

this year, a 65 in the second round at the Texas Open where he

finished tied for 11th and his lone top 25 result of 2009.


DAY TOO LATE: Justin Leonard came in as the defending champion

with two wins at TPC Southwind since 2005, and he gave his pro-am

team a 5-under Wednesday that put them leading the event at that


He didn't get any carryover.

Leonard opened on No. 10 and bogeyed the first six holes to drop

to 6 over. He birdied two of the final three, including the par-4

18th, and made the turn at 4 over. But the front nine wasn't much

better with a couple more bogeys. He finished with a 76 that

matched his worst score since his first round here in 1994. Leonard

missed the cut that year.


QUOTABLE: "It's kind hard talking to people with M&Ms on their

shirt. You can't eat M&Ms on the lap band," said John Daly, who

had lap band surgery earlier this year. He played with Tim Herron,

who has an M&Ms logo on his shirt.

Here's the Leaderboard

Brian Gay -6 64

Jimmy Walker -5 65

Jose Maria Olazabol -4 66

Rich Beem -4 66

Not Bad for the Locals:

Memphian Vance Veazey -3 67

Loren Roberts -3 67

David Gossett E 70

Shaun Micheel +1 71

Doug Barron +2 72

Casey Wittenberg +4 74

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