NEW ORLEANS -- Before they start playing for $6 million at
the Zurich Classic, Masters champion Phil Mickelson, David Toms and
other players at English Turn are giving money away to help rebuild
Toms, the only Louisiana native to win this tournament, already
has raised about $1.6 million through his foundation. On Wednesday,
he teamed with one of his sponsors, Humana, to hand out $100,000
checks to four local groups trying to help children and families
recover from Hurricane Katrina. One of those charities is Desire
Street Academy, run by former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel.
When he registered for the Zurich Classic, his first tournament
since winning the Masters, he decided to donate his entire earnings
this week to hurricane relief. Mickelson said he also would
designate one tournament for at least the next five years in which
he will give the money he makes to Katrina relief funds.
"It's going to take time and it's a tough situation,"
Mickelson said. "But it's going to get done."
How much he gives this week depends on how he plays, and while
Lefty said any player is only as good as his last tournament, he's
not putting much stock in his victory earlier this month at Augusta
National, which brought him his second green jacket and his third
consecutive year winning a major.
The two-week celebration was sweet, but certainly different from
two years ago.
He didn't ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. He
didn't jump at the chance to go on talk shows. And unlike 2004, he
didn't walk around in a daze, still having a hard time believing he
was a major champion.
"I was not just excited, but almost in disbelief there for a
week or two," Mickelson said. "This time, there is a great sense
of satisfaction having won, and having been able to beat such a
He hasn't play much golf in the last two weeks, and while he
spent Tuesday at Winged Foot -- already thinking about the U.S. Open
and a chance to win his third straight major - Mickelson only went
around the course with a putter.
"I've got a ways to go before I'm ready to play some top golf
this week," he said. "I haven't done the drills as diligently as
I did leading up to the Masters. But it doesn't feel far off. It
feels pretty close. I will need a couple of good practice sessions.
Fortunately, I tee off late tomorrow. Get a good practice session
and hopefully I'll be sharp this week."
There wasn't much time to work on his game Wednesday.
New Orleans was socked with rain much of the morning, cutting
short the pro-am. No one played more than nine holes on an English
Turn course suddenly soft and soggy, and some only got in five
Plus, Mickelson had a long line of television interviews. He
spent part of the afternoon in a chair before a bank of cameras,
listening to questions through an ear piece and firing away the
same answers about his Masters win, New Orleans and Winged Foot.
The pro-am round -- what little was left of it -- wasn't much
Mickelson spent the early part of his round watching shots
disappear into the water hazards, and someone asked him if it
lifted the spirits of his amateur partners, knowing they could beat
a three-time major winner on at least a couple of holes.
"Understand, if you give anybody enough shots, they'll
eventually beat you," Mickelson said. "I didn't want them to be
intimidated. So I just hit a couple in the water to show them that
it's OK. They relaxed and we had fun."
Mickelson nearly won the Zurich Classic two years ago in his
first appearance since winning the Masters, but he didn't make
enough birdies down the stretch at English Turn and was overcome by
a closing 63 from Vijay Singh.
The defending champion is Tim Petrovic, and the field includes
four of the top 10 players on the PGA Tour money list -- Mickelson,
Toms, Houston Open winner Stuart Appleby and Players Champion
Mickelson will be trying to win his third straight PGA Tour
event, and he's keeping one part of the equation in place. He said
he likely would use two drivers at English Turn, as he did at the
Masters and BellSouth Classic. One helps him with a fade, the other
And he said he probably would use both drivers at Winged Foot.
But the U.S. Open can wait. Mickelson has won the last two
majors, putting him halfway home to Tiger Woods' feat in 2000-01
when he held all four majors at the same time. But he doesn't like
talking about it, pushing aside questions that first came up at the
"To look that far in advance, it's not smart because it doesn't
give me the best chance to play well in the next tournament, which
is what I'm trying to do," Mickelson said.
Still, he doesn't mind other people talking about his chance to
win four straight majors.
"This is much better than the stuff I was getting two years
ago," Mickelson said. "So if that's the tough questions that I'm
facing, I'm all for it."