The 43-year-old has recorded four top-threes in his last nine major starts and relishes the prospect of a head-to-head duel with Tiger Woods at this week’s PGA Championship.
“I can taste some of my best golf coming out. I can feel it,” Mickelson told reporters after playing a practice round at Oak Hill Country Club on Tuesday.
“That has motivated me to continue to work hard and enjoy it, and I’m enjoying it more than I ever have. I’m as motivated as ever to compete and to play and get the best golf out of me to hopefully play against Tiger when he’s playing his best.
“That would ultimately be the goal. If I can play as well as I can at the same time he’s doing the same, I would love that opportunity.”
The likelihood of a Mickelson-Woods showdown at Oak Hill in the season’s final major is highly promising with both players having produced winning form in recent weeks.
Mickelson clinched his first British Open crown at Muirfield last month with a stunning final round of five-under-par 66, one week after he had triumphed at the Scottish Open.
Woods romped to victory by seven shots in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone on Sunday to earn his fifth PGA Tour title of the year in just 11 starts.
A final-round duel at Oak Hill between the two top-ranked players in the game would certainly spike television ratings and Mickelson has repeatedly said that he has benefited hugely as a golfer due to the influence of world number one Woods.
“Certainly my record doesn’t stand up to what he’s done in the game,” said Mickelson.
“It’s just incredible what he’s accomplished with the number of wins, the number of majors and the consistency that he’s shown throughout his career. But in the last five or six years, I’ve had some pretty good success head-to-head.
“He’s a great motivator for me. He’s helped me work hard. I’ve loved competing against him. He’s really brought the best out of me, especially when we’ve been paired together, and I hope that we are able to play together for many more years.”
Asked whether he had a specific tally of major wins in mind by the time he ended his Hall of Fame career, Mickelson replied: “Right now, just six. That’s all I’m thinking about.
“I don’t have a specific number. I would really like to have won all four (majors), and I’m one leg away here with the U.S. Open, and I’ve been close there a number of times.”
Mickelson has won the Masters three times and the British Open and PGA Championship once each. He has been a runner-up at the U.S. Open a record six times, including this year.
“I’ll be putting in extra effort every year now for that particular event, especially,” said Mickelson. “That would be the one thing that I think is fairly obvious.”
Long renowned for his magical short game, Mickelson cites the improvement in his driving and putting as the main reasons for his ability to contend consistently at the majors in recent years.
“I feel very confident in my ability to get the ball in play off the tee and I feel very confident in my ability on the greens now,” he said.
“I’ve turned weaknesses into strengths, I believe, and this serves me well in major championships.
“I feel like now the major championships are possibly the easiest ones for me to be in contention and maybe even win, because of those weaknesses becoming strengths.”
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Julian Linden)
Holden boss Mike Devereux has thanked the company’s employees for their “loyalty and flexibility” in backing a revised pay and conditions deal that could help save the car maker’s Australian manufacturing operations.
With the vote by staff completed on Friday, Holden said the new enterprise agreement had been accepted by a strong majority.
It will now be submitted to the Fair Work Commission for approval.
“Changes like this are never easy and the yes vote is a huge commitment from the hardworking men and women of our Holden team,” Mr Devereux said in a statement.
“These labour-related cost savings and productivity improvements are crucial to putting our Elizabeth manufacturing facility on a path to global competitiveness.”
The new deal is expected to save Holden about $15 million a year and includes scrapping a wage rise scheduled for November.
But it will only come into effect when Holden approves its next generation vehicle program, a $1 billion investment to build two new cars in Adelaide from 2016.
To ensure that program goes ahead the company has already indicated it will need ongoing financial support from state and federal governments.
It has already been pledged $275 million in a package negotiated last year, but is now thought to need another $200 million.
The federal election has stalled negotiations with the Labor government while the coalition is sticking by its position to cut $500 million from overall auto industry assistance.
Holden has said it will have talks on further assistance with the new government after the September 7 poll.
Mr Devereux said Australia remained a high-cost country, not just for making cars but for making anything and while Holden had to be globally competitive so did the country’s industry policy.
“As a local manufacturer, Holden is asking for a fair go. Australia must be able to compete fairly on the world stage,” he said.
“We need clear, consistent and globally competitive government policy to help secure a long-term future for automotive manufacturing.”
The changes to Holden’s enterprise labour agreement also come after Holden recently made 400 staff in Adelaide redundant and cut its vehicle production in response to softening market conditions.
To the end of July this year, demand for the company’s locally-produced cars was down 28 per cent to just over 30,000.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has defended a Liberal candidate and former police officer who admitted before an inquiry to having socialised with a notorious drug dealer.
Ray King, the Liberal candidate in the Sydney seat of McMahon, gave evidence before the Wood Royal Commission in 1996.
He told the commission he was off duty when spotted with heroin dealer Salvatore “Sammy” Lapa.
While the final report by Justice James Wood found a number of “inappropriate associations” between police and clubs in Sydney’s western suburbs, no adverse findings were made against Mr King.
He faced no criminal proceedings.
Mr Abbott told reporters in Melbourne he stood by Mr King, who after the Wood inquiry went on to be promoted three times and became the local commander in Liverpool.
“He certainly was before the Wood Royal Commission back in the mid-90s, as so many NSW policemen were,” Mr Abbott said.
“No adverse findings were made against him and that’s the key thing.”
Mr Abbott described Mr King as a “very highly respected policeman” who served the country with distinction.
“I’m very proud to have him as our candidate,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr King is standing against Treasurer Chris Bowen in the seat, which Labor holds by a margin of almost eight per cent.
Liberal Party NSW state director Mark Neeham told Fairfax Media that Mr King had been interviewed by the party’s nomination review committee and determined to be a fit and proper person to be a candidate.
Mr King has defended his record as a police officer after his appearance at the commission more than 16 years ago.
“There were no adverse findings against me and my service in the NSW Police continued with distinction,” he said in a statement.
“I was later promoted to Inspector and went on to become Superintendent of Cabramatta, Fairfield and Liverpool local area commands.”
A spokeswoman for Mr King said he wouldn’t comment further.
The Vienna zoo has made a birth announcement: Yang Yang and her mate Long Hui are the proud parents of another baby panda, the third one born of natural conception.
The newborn arrived at 12.24pm on Wednesday, his pink skin covered with a white down. He measures around 10 centimetres and weighs about 100 grammes.
“No other European zoo has up to now succeeded in conceiving this animal species by natural means,” the Schoenbrunn zoo said in a statement on Thursday.
Other European zoos have relied on artificial insemination in efforts to propagate the endangered species. Female pandas have a very short period of fertility, just two or three days annually.
The new baby panda will remain isolated with his mother Yang Yang for several months, until the two decide themselves to leave their niche.
The zoo’s director sent out a reminder of the fragility of a panda’s first year of life.
“Even as we rejoice, we must remain realistic. The mortality rate for giant pandas in the first year is at 40 per cent, ” said Dagmar Schratter in a statement.
The first panda born of natural conception at the Vienna zoo was in 2007 and Fu Long became a major attraction, drawing thousands of visitors. Three years later his brother Fu Hu arrived, adding to the panda mania.
The two pandas left the zoo at the age of two, adhering to the contract with the Chinese authorities. In the wild, young pandas leave their parents at that age.
China is the owner of all pandas born in captivity in zoos.
Fewer than 1,600 pandas remain in the wild, mainly in China’s Sichuan province, with a further 300 in captivity around the world.
At the Schoenbrunn zoo, the 10-year loan of Yang Yang and Long Hui ended in March but negotiations to renew the loan are nearly complete, says Europe’s oldest zoo, which is located in the park of the former imperial residence.
0001pt;line-height:normal;mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:none”>McAfee subsequently went into hiding and if you thought that was all that was pretty tropical, here’s where the weird get weirder.
So the latest twist in the highly-publicised case sees McAfee starting his own blog after police in Belize called him a person of interest in the slaying of his neighbour.
In phone interviews, he has never said where he’s hiding, but in his blog this week, he claims to have disguised himself as a grungy street peddler and a foul-mouthed German tourist, and claims he approached a reporter outside his staked-out home on the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye.
“I darkened the skin of my face, neck and hands carefully with shoe polish and put on an LA Saints baseball cap with the brim facing backward and tufts of the front of my hair sticking out unkempt through the band,” he said.
Perhaps even more surreal: his blog, which is hosted by graphic novelist Chad Essley, will be turned into a comic book.
“The true story of my unusual friendship with the antivirus king,” it says.
It’s difficult to differentiate fact from fiction in the increasingly paranoid-sounding McAfee.
He recently blogged “I am old and foolish and forget the basic tenets of reality sometimes.”
But it’s certain to get a little weirder before the end.
The immigration minister has blasted the coalition’s asylum seeker policy as the maddest idea he’s ever heard.
Tony Burke says the “bizarre” idea of buying boats in Indonesia to prevent their use by people smugglers is “simply crazy policy” and doomed to fail. He says the archipelago of Indonesia has three quarters of a million boats and ship builders would make them faster than they could be bought and destroyed.
“Of all the mad ideas I’ve heard in immigration, I think boat buy-back wins,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“I have no doubt at all it would be great for the ship building industry of Indonesia and they would be lending a hand to the ship building industry of Indonesia in a way in which they’re not willing to lend a hand to the car building industry of Australia.”
Mr Burke said Australians would be outraged if another country sent its police to our shores, yet that is what the opposition planned to do in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
“Now just think, from the perspective as an Australian, if another country unilaterally announced they were sending their police force to our country to conduct their own operations, you can imagine how that would be received within Australia,” he said.
“And the clumsy nature of simply letting embassies know at the last minute that this was about to come, without seeking consent, without seeking cooperation, without seeking any direct engagement of any fashion with the other countries, is a recipe almost guaranteed to fail.”
Mr Burke said the opposition had claimed to have been working on its policy for four years.
“It takes a very special skill to work on something for four years and still deliver it like you’re on the run,” he said. AAP ce/mn/amc
The loved ones of Melbourne baseballer Chris Lane watched a tribute game in his honour today at the field where his sporting dreams began.
Mr Lane’s family, his girlfriend Sarah Harper and members of the tight-knit baseball community attended the Essendon Baseball Club match in Melbourne’s north.
Family, friends, former teammates of Chris Lane gather for a minutes silence followed by US & Oz anthems @SBSNews pic.twitter.com/lZoPLYrkCX
— Sarah Abo (@_SarahAbo) August 25, 2013
Mr Lane played for the Essendon Baseball Club for 13 years before getting a US scholarship.
He was the victim of a random drive-by shooting last week in Oklahoma and three teenagers have been arrested over his murder.
In Oklahoma the residents of Duncan, where Chris Lane was killed, held a vigil for the murdered Australian.
“The idea came about after visiting with people in the community on Monday and feeling an overwhelming burden that our community is hurting,” Duncan First Baptist Church pastor Bryan Pain said.
An online memorial fund set up by one of Mr Lane’s US baseball team-mates has raised a staggering $US154,000 ($A171,800) in just three days.
It was hoped the fund would raise $US15,000 to help pay for funeral expenses and take Mr Lane’s body back to Melbourne.
But the outpouring of support from people around the world will allow Mr Lane’s parents to set up a foundation to make donations to organisations Mr Lane was passionate about.
The fund is at:
James Edwards, 15 and Chancey Luna, 16, have been charged with the first-degree murder of Mr Lane. Michael Jones, 17, was charged with being an accessory to murder.
Mr Lane was jogging along a Duncan road last Friday when police allege Luna fired a .22 calibre revolver into Mr Lane’s back in a random attack.
Some locals have blamed the murder on gangs which have infiltrated Duncan, a town that has had just one other murder in the past five years. But the chief said he had no knowledge of gang activity in the city.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says Labor won’t enter into any agreements to form minority government if the election is tied.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has long ruled out any deals in the event of a hung parliament, and Mr Rudd has now followed suit.
“My ambition … is that we are returned as a majority government,” Mr Rudd told reporters in Cairns on Wednesday.
“That is the best thing for the nation.
“We will not be entering into any coalition agreements, we won’t be having any negotiated agreements, we won’t have any deals with any independents or any minor party.”
The move could mean the Greens’ Adam Bandt – elected in 2010 on the back of Liberal Party preferences – faces an even tougher challenge to retain his seat of Melbourne at the election.
Mr Abbott said he didn’t regret preferencing the Greens before Labor at the 2010 election.
“That was then, this is now,” he said.
The last three years had been a “litany of betrayals, of broken promises, of disappointed hopes”, and the Australian people couldn’t afford any repeat of that.
That’s why he’d decided to make this “captain’s call”, and Mr Rudd should be “man enough” to do the same.
“This election is about producing a strong government, a majority government, with a clear majority in the parliament,” he said.
Mr Abbott said it was a different question when it came to doing deals with other minor parties.
There is a “world of difference” between the Greens and virtually every other political party contesting the federal election, he said.
The Greens were against economic growth and were pushing for a bank levy, higher mining and carbon taxes, open borders and 100 per cent renewable energy target, he said.
“These are quite frankly fringe economic policies, to put it at its kindest, and no one has that kind of economic policy,” he said.
Both major parties needed to send a strong signal that they won’t jeopardise Australia’s prosperity by giving the Greens a chance to run the next government.
Mr Abbott was asked whether he would do deals with the Greens on passing legislation in the Senate.
“We are going to get our program through the parliament,” Mr Abbott said.
“If we are thwarted by a recalcitrant parliament, well there are options under the constitution that we won’t hesitate to take,” he said, hinting at a possible double dissolution election.
He said his decision was about principle and “standing up for the things you believe in”.
Greens leader Christine Milne says it’s “absolutely realistic” the party can retain Melbourne.
“This is actually what we thought would happen. It’s the basis on which Adam Bandt’s campaign has been running,” she told ABC radio.
“It’s just really the signal we need to go even harder to get this seat for Adam because I think he’s been a great member for Melbourne and been a wonderful deputy leader for the Greens.”
Senator Milne says Greens need to be re-elected to fight against university cuts, which she says both major parties are supporting.
“We need Adam there as a strong voice for research development for universities and against those cuts, and also on asylum seekers,” she said.
“If the Greens aren’t there, who is going to stand up and talk about caring for people and compassion and decency when both of the old parties just want to engage in a race to the bottom?”
Adam Bandt says that he remains confident of winning his seat in Melbourne.
“Of course, in the Victorian state election the Liberals decided to work with Labor and help Labor members get elected at the state level here, so we’ve presumed we can’t rely on anyone supporting us,” he told the ABC.
“As much as the two old parties say they hate each other perhaps they want to see us out of the parliament even more.”
Maverick MP Bob Katter says he welcomes Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s decision to preference the Australian Greens last.
“The environmentalists movement in Australia had turned into a cancer and had to be cut out,” he told reporters at the Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane on Wednesday.
Mr Katter said he’s not leaning towards any party when it comes to preference swaps.
He said there’s a lot of “wheeling and dealing” to be done before any preferences are decided.
Katter’s Australian Party preferences could be decisive in northern and central Queensland where the party secured large swings in last year’s state election.
Mr Katter said he wants support for transmission lines to new mining fields in Queensland.
Test star Sam Thaiday says the stain of racial abuse remains on rugby league’s intense battlefield but he urges fellow indigenous players to be the bigger man.
Promoting the first indigenous jersey to be worn by the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night, Thaiday revealed he still hears racial taunts being made in NRL matches.
However, the Broncos skipper and Queensland Origin back-rower said for the most part the abuse is “not intentionally” racist.
“It’s a very tough and physical game,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s man against man and it’s very much like the old gladiators.
“We’re out there to win at all costs and sometimes things get said in the heat of the moment that I think aren’t said as a hurtful thing.
“When things are said in a hurtful way that’s when it crosses the line.”
Thaiday admitted he’d generally come through his 10 years and 186 games in the NRL unscathed but made sure he didn’t react to racial slurs.
The 29-year-old said he spoke to younger Aboriginal players about being cool-headed and careful to respond in a positive way.
“It is a tough thing to hear but you can’t really react to those things these days,” he said. “I think the best way to deal with it is to try and push it aside as much as possible.
“I would rather beat someone on the scoreboard and on the field than beat their face in.”
The Broncos have launched their specially-designed indigenous jersey, displaying artwork by former NRL player and Aboriginal artist Sid Domic, which they will wear against Parramatta as part of the NRL’s `Close the Gap’ Round.
The Close The Gap initiative is aimed at correcting the imbalance between the life expectancy of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
“To finally get the chance to wear an indigenous jersey here at the Broncos is going to be a fantastic honour,” said Thaiday.
President Obama apparently agrees although what gets him itchy is not the over-sized bus tour tourists taking photos of the “Notre Dame” cathedral in Paris but Americans spending too much time in places like Yemen, Afghanistan, or Pakistan.
It was in Yemen that Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed in a drone strike by the US government. Two weeks later Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son was killed in another drone strike.
All had links to Al-Qaeda so there can be some credible arguments justifying the American action but there is a catch. All three were American citizens. Wait, what? The US government is now carrying out ex-judicis executions of its citizens abroad? Pretty much, yes.
Drones have become Obama’s number one tool in the war against terrorists and it is easy to see why. They are awesome. They are small, hard to detect from the ground, but can carry lethal weapons.
They are unmanned, piloted remotely. This means that a drone in Yemen can be controlled by someone in Nevada or Florida. A “pilot” can sit in a cube at a military base in Nevada or Florida, take out some suspected Al-Qaeda members in Yemen via computer over lunch and then go shopping in Las Vegas after work.
This actually happens. It is not your imagination. It is war like a video game. It is cheaper and less dangerous (for your side) than sending in ground troops to pursue Al-Qaeda and also instills a sense of constant fear in the other guys. No matter where they are, they are not safe.
But like in any war things rarely go the way you plan it. Innocent people get hit and the death of every innocent person is an opportunity to motivate someone else to actually become an anti-American terrorist in order to wreak some kind of revenge upon an aggressor. It’s a video game, for sure, with very real consequences if you get it wrong.
Along with snow storms, the use of drones has created much talk in the US over the past week. Some Democrats are not enthralled with what they see as little oversight of targeted killings while some Republicans have found a reason to actually agree with the President’s methods.
“If you take up arms against America and you fight in a terrorist training camp or on the front lines in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Yemen you shouldn’t be surprised if America reaches out and exacts justice against you,” said Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas.
Former Presidential candidate John McCain opposition was the CIA should not have a role in using drones – it should only be the military’s remit – while Republican Tom Cole said he preferred his terrorists alive rather than dead.
“Human intelligence is much more important than taking out individual targets,” he said.
Much focus is on President Obama’s domestic legacy – healthcare, immigration, gun control – he may also go down in history as the first President to reinvent America’s wars abroad, for better or worse.
And Republicans, for once, are mostly OK with that.