May 8, 2012
At 41, Phil Mickelson was one of five inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday. He’s earned it.
Not only because of his four major championships, 40 PGA Tour wins, or the $66 million career earnings. He’s earned it with the way he plays the game and all of the fascinating moments he has given the fans.
Nobody (not even Tiger) adds more intrigue to a leader board than Mickelson because you never know what he will do. Maybe he will birdie five of the last seven holes to win the tournament. Or maybe he will hit his tee shot on the final hole into a hospitality tent and make a double-bogey that costs him the tournament. Either way, it is worth watching.
They call him Phil the Thrill for a reason. He’s regarded by many as having the best short game on tour, in large part to the flop shot he has mastered. His touch and creativity allow him to often, not only attempt, but pull off shots that other players wouldn’t even think of. Here are a few of my favorite Mickelson moments.
1. Of course, the top of the list is the 2004 Masters. In Phil entered the final round tied for the lead and at the end of the day he had a green jacket and was no longer considered the best player without a major championship on his resume. After a back nine where Mickelson made five birdies and was surrounded by players holing out from all over Augusta, he was the last man standing on a day that Jim Nantz called one of the greatest in Masters history. I agree and I think Phil would too.
2. When I heard the Mickelson had an instructional video for your short game, I knew it would be worth watching. What I didn’t know was that he would teach me how to hit the ball straight up and backwards onto the green. It’s an incredibly difficult shot. Even when you know how to do it, I don’t know if anyone but Phil can. If I want to hit one that goes backwards, I’ve got to find a tree to bounce it off of.
3. In 2006, Mickelson arrived at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot looking to win his third straight major, something only Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods have done. He had the lead after 71 holes but committed a colossal mistake on the final hole and finished one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy. I’m not putting this on my list because I’m glad it happened, but it’s another example of the style of play that makes Phil the Thrill so great to watch. Not many guys would have hit driver on that hole. He did. And he paid a steep price for not hitting a good one. This is where we get Phil’s famous “I’m such and idiot” quote.
4. At just 20 and still in college, he won his first PGA Tour event, the Northern Telecom Open, in Tucson as an amateur. It’s a feat that has only been done six times in history and hasn’t been matched since he pulled it off in 1991.
5. When a hailstorm crashes the party as Phil plays the 18th at the 2000 Williams World Challenge, he doesn’t seek shelter like a normal human being would. Instead of trying to putt on a green covered in hail, he pulls out a wedge and chips it in for birdie.
There are my five favorites. I give honorable mention to his PGA Championship win in 2005 and the run he made playing with two drivers in his bag. What are your favorites that I left out?
April 12, 2011
99 players teed it up at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday to compete for the green jacket. Charl Schwartzel was the last man standing on Sunday afternoon. He survived one of the most wide-open and unpredictable finishes in Masters history. If he is anything like me, he is still wearing that green jacket.
If you missed it, here’s how the field narrowed from 99 players to one Masters Champion:
November 25, 2010 – Tiger Woods will never forget this Thanksgiving Day. As we all know, his life changed in a major way and he hasn’t won since. (Just kidding about his elimination. Tiger could have won this tournament.)
Monday, April 4: No amateur has ever won the Masters. It is too tall an order for a group of guys who are probably just happy to be playing in the Masters. Players eliminated: David Chung, Jin Jeong, Lion Kim, Hideki Matsuyama, Nathan Smith, and Peter Uihlein. 93 players still alive.
Wednesday, April 6: Luke Donald wins the Par 3 Contest. No winner of the Par 3 Contest has won the Masters in the same year. Players eliminated: Luke Donald. 92 players still alive.
Thursday, April 7, 8:51 a.m.: Aaron Baddeley’s tee shot on the first hole ends up in a woman’s lap. When he arrived he marked the ball’s spot underneath her chair with a tee and took a drop. This is not the way you want to begin a major championship. Baddeley goes on to shoot 75. Players eliminated: Aaron Baddeley. 91 Players still alive.
Thursday, April 7, Round 1: You cannot win a tournament in the first round but you can play your way out of it. Just ask Martin Kaymer. He came into the week at the top of the world rankings but shot a 78 in the first round and went on to miss the cut. He was not the only big name to struggle in the first round. Players eliminated: Mark O’Meara 77, Padraig Harrington 77, Martin Kaymer 78, Ben Crenshaw 78, Ian Woosnam 79, Tom Watson, 79, Craig Stadler 80, Arjun Atwal 80, and Henrik Stenson 82. 83 players still alive.
Friday, April 8, 12th hole: Matt Kuchar stood on the 12th tee at 3-under par and within a few shots of the lead. His tee shot vanished as it landed. They finally found the ball but he had to take a drop on the other side of Rae’s Creek and walked away with a double-bogey. Graeme McDowell ran into trouble on 12 as well. He took a triple-bogey and missed the cut by two shots. Players eliminated: Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell. 80 players still alive.
Friday, April 8, Round 2: Only the top 44 and ties get to play the weekend at Augusta. Those who miss the cut can only think about what might have been. Players eliminated: Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, Sandy Lyle, Davis Love III, Jonathan Byrd, Larry Mize, Jose Maria Olazabal, Rory Sabatini, Hiroyuki Fujita, Kevin Streelman, Anders Hansen, Louis Oosthuizen, Gregory Havret, Jason Bohn, Yuta Ikeda, Carl Pettersson, D.A. Points, Retief Goosen, Peter Hanson, Jhonattan Vegas, Ben Crane, Heath Slocum, Jerry Kelly, Stuart Appleby, Mark Wilson, Kevin Na, Francesco Molinari, Hunter Mahan, Anthony Kim, Sean O’Hair, Robert Allenby, Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Tim Clark, Stewart Cink. 45 players still alive.
Saturday, April 9, Front Nine: It’s moving day. Those who just made the cut have no room for error. They need to go low. Players eliminated: Kyung-Tae Kim, Ernie Els, Nick Watney, Camilo Villegas, Steve Marino, Alex Cejka, and Paul Casey. 38 players still alive.
Saturday, April 9, Round 3: Anything can happen in the final round of a major championship. If you can stay within shouting distance of the lead, you’ve got a shot. Players eliminated: Jeff Overton, Trevor Immelman, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Justin Rose, Bill Haas, Robert Karlsson, Charley Hoffman, Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Ryan Moore, David Toms, Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Sergio Garcia, Ryo Ishikawa, Ricky Barnes, Ricky Fowler. 20 players still alive.
Sunday, April 10: Rory McIlroy holds a four shot lead at -12. Anybody within range of second at – 8 has a shot to make a run if McIlroy struggles and comes back to the field.
1st hole – Alvaro Quiros and Martin Laird make bogey. Ryan Palmer makes double bogey. 17 players still alive.
3rd hole – Y.E. Yang makes bogey. 16 players still alive.
4th hole – Steve Stricker, Edoardo Molinari and Bubba Watson make bogey. 13 players still alive.
5th hole – Phil Mickelson makes double bogey. 12 players still alive.
3rd hole – Charl Schwartzel holes out from the fairway for an eagle to go -11 and tie for the lead. Fred Couples and Geoff Ogilvy are seven shots behind two players. 10 players still alive.
8th hole – Tiger Woods makes an eagle to get to -10 and a tie for second. Bo Van Pelt and Ross Fisher are five shots behind two players and six shots off the lead. 8 players still alive.
11th hole – Lee Westwood makes bogey and drops to -5 with three players tied for the lead at -10. 7 players still alive.
10th hole – Rory McIlroy makes a disastrous triple-bogey to fall out of the lead. He is just two shots behind but it is too hard to recover from a mess like that. 6 players still alive.
16th hole – Adam Scott nearly makes an ace but settles for birdie to go -12. Angel Cabrera falls four shots off the pace. 5 players still alive.
17th hole – K.J. Choi makes a bogey and drops to -9. 4 players still alive.
17th hole – Charl Schwartzel makes birdie to take the lead at -13. Tiger Woods is in the clubhouse at -10. 3 players still alive.
18th hole – Charl Schwartzel makes birdie to win the Masters by two shots over Jason Day and Adam Scott.
Your winner: Charl Schwartzel