View Full Version : Oh Phil...

02-23-2009, 08:37 AM
What does the golfing world really think about you when people write articles titled "Mickelson avoids a meltdown to win at Riviera"?

Way to keep it together, Phil... (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090223/ap_on_sp_go_su/glf_northern_trust_open)

I think the first 11 words of this article says it all about Philly Mick....

LOS ANGELES On the verge of blowing the biggest lead of his career, Phil Mickelson turned his fortunes around in the final hour at Riviera with back-to-back birdies that carried him to a one-shot victory Sunday in the Northern Trust Open.

Mickelson went from a four-shot lead at the start of the final round to a two-shot deficit with three holes to play.

Determined not to get another title get away from him at Riviera, he hit 9-iron to 5 feet behind the hole for birdie on the par-3 16th, hit his biggest drive of the round on the par-5 17th to set up a two-putt birdie from 70 feet, then buried his demons on the 18th hole by making a 6-foot par to avoid a playoff with Steve Stricker.

Mickelson closed with a 1-over 72 to become only the fourth player to win in consecutive years at Riviera. It might have been three in a row if not for his sloppy bogey on the 18th hole two years ago, when he wound up losing in a playoff.

"I'll take a lot out of this," Mickelson said. "To make par on 18 when two years ago I didn't, that meant a lot to me."

Stricker closed with a 67 and was on his way to the range to get ready for a playoff when he saw Mickelson leave himself a tough par putt on the final hole, and stopped when he heard the cheer.

He had his chances. Stricker missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th that would have given him a three-shot lead at the time, then missed a 12-footer for par on the 18th.

It was the second time on the West Coast that Stricker had a chance to win. He had a three-shot lead at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic until he was blown away by the raging desert wind, closing with a 77.

"It's just a little disappointing when you don't finish it off, or have the opportunity to finish it off," he said. "And I didn't."

But the real heartache belonged to Fred Couples.

A two-time winner at Riviera, his favorite golf course west of Augusta National, the 49-year-old had a chance for one last victory in his final full season on the PGA Tour. Couples was one shot behind when he fanned his approach to the 18th green and watched in disgust as it struck a eucalyptus tree. He finished with a bogey for a 69 to tie for third with K.J. Choi (69) and Andres Romero (70).

Couples learned earlier in the week that his estranged wife, Thais Baker, died Tuesday of breast cancer. They never divorced after splitting up nearly four years ago, and Couples said he is not welcome in their home in Santa Barbara.

"She was a nice person," he said. "She did everything she could to make it another month."

Mickelson finished at 15-under 269 and won for the 35th time in his career. It was the first time since the 2005 PGA Championship that he won a tournament without breaking par in the final round.

Lefty won for the 17th time on the West Coast, and it could not have come at a better time. He had failed to break the top 20 in his first three starts, missing the cut in Phoenix and making it on the number at Pebble Beach.

And while a victory should take care of any talk about a slump, this was one of his wildest wins yet 63-72-62-72.

Mickelson had never lost a PGA Tour event when leading by more than four shots going into the final round, but what appeared to be his biggest collapse turned into a stunning recovery.

First, he began hitting 3-wood off the tee to gain some confidence. And when he unloaded a tee shot down the 15th fairway, the comeback was under way.

Mickelson led by as many as five shots when he opened with an eagle for the third straight day, although it might have been the first sign of a struggle to come. The hole was in the middle toward the back, easy to access, yet Mickelson had to make a 40-foot putt.

The next two holes were more obvious.

He had trouble with the sticky kikuya grass, muffing a chip on the second hole to make bogey, and with his driver, hooking his tee shot on the third so badly that it struck a eucalyptus tree 170 yards off the tee, leading to another bogey.

And yet, no one in the final group took advantage.

Couples opened with an eagle from 3 feet, and his wedge on the third hole checked up 3 feet from the cup. He made birdie, but it was a nervous stroke, and he badly missed a 3-foot par putt on the fourth, a 8-foot birdie on the sixth and a 6-foot birdie on the seventh.

Romero went at every flag, but couldn't make a putt unless it was for par or bogey. The 27-year-old Argentine twice made stunning par saves, on the fifth and eighth, to stay in the hunt. But he hooked his tee shot out of bounds on the 12th, ending his hopes.

Stricker made three birdies in a four-hole stretch around the turn, with a 6-footer at No. 12 giving him the lead for the first time all week. He never had another good look at birdie until the 17th, and that was the one he badly needed to make.

"I didn't know what the lead was at the time, but I knew I had the lead," he said.

No surprise, I was rooting for Couples.

Hoosier Red
02-23-2009, 08:55 AM
When you have 36 titles to your name, I'm not sure you care what people think of you. And if you do, you can dry your tears on the giant oversized checks.

02-23-2009, 09:01 AM
What's wrong with losing a lead, then gaining it back? If it were anyone but Phil the story would be how a player refused to give up after losing the lead. But since it's not anyone else, the story becomes Phil narrowly avoiding the inevitable.
Sometimes I think the golf world is so devoid of actual drama that they have to make things up.

02-23-2009, 09:12 AM
When you have 36 titles to your name, I'm not sure you care what people think of you. And if you do, you can dry your tears on the giant oversized checks.

... and that's the whole thing with Phil. He wants people to think he doesn't care about what they say, but the fact of the matter is he does. Thankfully he has a couple of Majors, or else we'd see more of these "Tiger's not playing yet, gotta fill print somehow" fluff pieces concerning Mickelson.

I've said it before, but my frustration with Mickelson is that golf to him is just a job and a paycheck. To his credit, he's good at what he does, for the most part. I'm sure he's got plenty of coin stashed away to support his ever growing family (seriously Phil, how many kids do you and Amy need?), and maybe once he's 50 and bored he'll play a couple Champions Tour events, but I just don't see passion in Phil, and as someone still with ties to the industry that frustrates me to no end.

Phil, to me, is an enigma. Not as much talent as Tiger, but probably the most talented on Tour not named Eldrick. But it's like he just doesn't care. It's like he's just out there to plod home and cash a check. 1st place money doesn't care to him, b/c he's still going to make a good living finishing 10th.

Hopefully him not completely joking on Sunday and winning at Riviera lights a fire under him, and Tiger won't simply return to the Tour and dominate. I'd love to see their rivalry emerge.

Hoosier Red
02-23-2009, 09:38 AM
And yet with all that, he's won 36 titles. And by the time its over he'll be in the top 10 for all time victories.(He needs 4 more)

As for this being a job, and not having passion, if he were in any other profession, it would be called "being well rounded" and having "one's priorities in order."

But for some reason in sports, we see it as a weakness if one doesn't have the need to have no other ambitions.

The gentlemen doth protest too much.

Boston Red
02-23-2009, 11:14 AM
How embarrassing for Phil to have won a PGA Tour event this weekend. How will he ever show his face in public?

02-23-2009, 01:38 PM
How embarrassing for Phil to have won a PGA Tour event this weekend. How will he ever show his face in public? He has a jacket or two he can use to hide.