Mickelson's bonehead WD at the BMW means Tiger is in the driver's seat for FedEx Cup
Phil Mickelson is the cause of most of my golf-related mood swings lately.
While some browse the internet for hours looking for Britney Spears VMA reaction or suggesting substances to test on Willitblend.com, I’m usually up all night trying to decide whether I like Phil’s candid demeanor and go-for-broke playing style - or loathe the fact that his game between the ears have led to a decade of a mostly empty rivalry between him and Tiger Woods - a rivalry that could have been one of the best ever.
The origins of my Mickelson obsession came when I was reporting on him at the U.S. Open at Oakmont this summer. Our period together was brief, since he didn’t make the cut and wasn’t around for the weekend. While he was there, I realized a little more of the enigma that is “Lefty".
Golf writers really, really like Mickelson because he speaks his mind, doesn’t give robotic sound bites like a certain golfer ahead of him in the FedEx Cup standings, and is usually very accessible.
The same can be said for Rory Sabbatini. Reporters can huddle around him for an hour before or after a round and bait him into saying anything. (I’ll bet if you worded the question cleverly enough, you could coax him into suggesting Tiger was a regular to Michael Vick’s Virginia estate). He’s just trying to fill sports pages, which makes our job easier, but what he’s saying isn’t always genuine.
Mickelson didn’t have to mention Butch Harmon’s secrets to beating Tiger Woods, but he did, and it’s created another fiber in the Phil-Tiger rivalry - to which golf fans owe much gratitude.
Sometimes when he speaks his mind, he comes off as a giant wimp.
Take his constant criticism of the USGA for the “dangerous” rough that he claims injured his hand, rough that was of course cut down prior to the opening round of the tournament anyways. When Mickelson called Oakmont a “USGA’s wet dream”, it sent the media tent into a tizzy - though most outlets didn’t publish the comment (I’m still shocked by the fact that quote didn’t make SportsCenter, Golf Central or every single media column the following day - golf could use more bites like that).
Mickelson was defeated before he even showed up to Oakmont, but he’s even making excuses when he’s at the top of his game. His statement to the PGA Tour and Tim Finchem this week, showing his kids off to school personally rather than compete in the BMW Championship, was cowardly. He was fresh off a triumphant victory over Woods at the Deutsche Bank last Sunday. He could have done it again this week, but withdrew instead to hang with his family. His only appearance Sunday was when he was talking to NBC analyst Johnny Miller on his cell discussing the action.
As a result of his bonehead WD, it’s Tiger, not Phil, who is in the driver’s seat heading into the Tour Championship. This coming despite their similar playoff results to this point.
According to projections from NBC this afternoon, because Mickelson didn’t record any points at the BMW, it means he could win the Tour Championship this week, but if Tiger finishes second, Tiger wins the FedEx Cup and a life-changing $10 million.
The true crime, and why this “rivalry” will never realize its potential, is that Mickelson had his bully in a noogie, for the first time in his career, and inexplicably let him loose so he could play Soccer Dad - all because Tim Finchem didn’t email him back or something.
I wish Bobby Knight was his golf coach at Arizona State. Sure, his temperament would be severely flawed on the opposite end of the spectrum, but his trademark sheepishness would be long gone.
Like Michael Jordan or Roger Federer, Tiger Woods crushes the life out of his opponent with nary a crack of daylight. Mickelson leaves the door wide open. It’s no surprise to those of us who have been following golf’s most puzzling player. That’s the shame - or the allure of Mickelson’s legacy.
And it’s driving me straight to the funny farm.
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I agree, the Oakmont comment was way under-reported.
Didnt Phil already have Tiger put the green jacket on him?
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