Monday, June 19, 2006

You Better Think

They often say the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Well Phil “the self-imposed idiot” Mickelson certainly never seemed far from the woods of Winged Foot Golf Course Sunday afternoon.

Mickelson went into the final round with a share of the lead and despite only hitting 2 of 14 fairways; he still had the lead going into the final hole. Despite not once birdying a par-5 all four days he had the lead. Despite the toughest conditions in almost thirty years, Mickelson was 400 yards from three legs of the grand slam.

Then the driver came.

Now, I don’t like to second guess golfers, especially seeing the impossible shots they hit on a regular basis but…..going 2 for 13 might have been a clue that driver is not the club you want. It’s the decision everyone looks at and when poor Mickelson reached the press corps you could literally hear the elegy as Lefty dragged himself in there. The question was asked and Mickelson said the line which will live in infamy:
”I’m such an idiot.”

That didn’t interest me nearly as much as the excuse he did muster. He said he was trying to hit his ‘bread and butter’ slice because a shorter club would not give him any distance. Granted if his swing was really off, he could have missed the fairway with any club. Phil’s fortune of finding it in such a good lie actually proved his undoing, for his second shot hit a tree when he might have been forced to chip out. Instead he double bogies in one of the greatest blunders in golf history.

Unfortunately, when the words golf and collapse come together, I immediately think of Jean Van de Velde.

Van de Velde triple-bogeyed the final hole to lose in a playoff in the 1999 British Open. The problem is, at least he got into a playoff. Mickelson couldn’t even do that and Phil is a far better golfer than the Frenchmen could ever dream of becoming.

Van de Velde never recovered. Just a few years ago he vied for the French Open and he found water on 18 yet again!

Phil has 3 majors to fall back on, much more than Van de Velde can ever say but those two for a hole in time were kindred spirits. The real question now isn’t about the rivalry of Tiger and Phil, but what will Phil do next? (sorry Ford)

Is Phil the Thrill back?

The man has had to go through more scrutiny than any golfer in perhaps sports history. Now his mental psyche must somehow get over this terrible gaffe. Clearly it won’t fully be rectified unless Phil wins a U.S. Open. The legacy of Mickelson however took a sizable blow in front of his legions of New York fans. A win here would have put Phil’s name up with men like Watson or maybe even Arnold Palmer. Can Phil make it back to the Promised Land, or will this small stretch of glory end up being just that?

Good thing I don’t have to answer that.


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