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Original Issue

Lefty Grove Phil Ain't

The most high-profile sports fan on the PGA Tour, Phil Mickelson,
got a lot of ink last week for taking a break from the NEC to
throw batting practice to the Akron Aeros, the Double A farm club
of the Cleveland Indians. Lefty, who pitches righthanded, offered
to pay $300 to any player who went yard, but surprisingly, none
did. Paul Azinger, who tagged along for the adventure, tells SI
that the homer drought was due to Mickelson's baffling slo-pitch
arsenal. "Phil has a lot of good junk, but he threw his fastball,
and the radar gun kept reading 68," says Azinger. "His curve was
58. Those hitters hadn't seen speeds like that since Little
League. They were way out in front of everything. One guy hit one
out of the stadium, but he pulled it just foul."

This year's Solheim Cup in Malmo, Sweden, is still two weeks
away, but it's never too soon to begin the Monday morning
quarterbacking. Patty Sheehan's captain's picks for the U.S.
squad, announced on Sunday evening, are the most second-guessable
in a team competition since Lanny Wadkins named his washed-up old
buddy, Curtis Strange, to the '95 Ryder Cup team. Sheehan
selected Heather Bowie and Kelly Kuehne, bypassing U.S. Open
champ Hillary Lunke, as well as three veterans who have been
warriors in past Solheims, Pat Hurst, Emilee Klein and Kelly
Robbins. In four years on the LPGA tour, Bowie, 28, has not won a
tournament, and on Sunday she could have clinched one of the 10
automatic spots on the team during the final round of the
Wachovia but came undone on the back nine, making five straight
bogeys and ultimately finishing 11th in the points race.
Meanwhile, Bowie's old Texas roommate, Kuehne, has only one top
10 finish this year, and she laid an egg at the 2002 Solheim,
losing all three of her matches.


THIS WEEK: Augusta National announced that 36 pine trees were
recently planted along the right side of the par-4 11th hole,
pinching the landing area. Have the extensive changes of the last
few years made the course better or worse?

LAST POLL: What kind of rough do you prefer at majors: thin
enough that players can attempt recovery shots, as at Olympia
Fields, or thick and penal like Oak Hill's?


--Based on 3,605 responses to our informal survey