Lee Bacchus looks at Golf
A Look at Phil Mickelson
Here are 8 reasons I love to watch Phil Mickelson play golf and why I feel a kind of kinship with him:
1. THE RIDE: With his miracle up-and-downs from oblivion, his sleight-of-hand lob wedges and his final-round crash-and-, Phil the Thrill is a human amusement park.
2. THEATRE: While Tiger Woods appears to have all the dimensions of a comic-book action hero, Mickelson is a full-fledged tragic-comic figure. He may best player to never have one a major, and this year, the best player to occasionally play as if he was the worst. It's as if Hamlet had suddenly taken up the game.
3. THE LOOK: On one hand, with his Hugh Grant fop of hair, his turned-up Hugo Boss collars and pleated designer pants, Mickelson wears the look of a silver-spoon-fed California golf bum; and yet on the other hand, when his ball finds water and extinguishes a two-stroke lead, then all that breeding gets masked by a glare that is equal parts self-loathing and quiet desperation. In other words, at those times, he looks just like I feel when I play golf.
4. THE HUMILITY: In contrast with the sabre-toothed Tiger Woods, who could stare down a rabid wolverine with his usual measure of arrogance and aggression, Phil still punctuates his brilliant shots with a sheepish smile almost as if he¹s embarrassed by his strokes of genius. If only that humility didn¹t so often turn into humiliation.
5. LEFTY: It's just fun to watch someone swinging from the other side.
6. HIS ANGST: Surely Mickelson must be haunted by the fact that for every major left in his career, Tiger will also be there playing like Mozart to Mickelson's Antonio Salieri, a talented composer you may recall ended up in an insane asylum.
7. HE'S PERFECTLY IMPERFECT: As opposed to Tiger, who makes winning a kind of inexoranble mechanical certainty, Mickelson squanders leads, blows himself up, and chokes like a baby trying to swallow a T-bone - but then the next time you look he's back in contention.
8. HIS INNOCENCE: Amid all the new breed of steely-eyed but blandly unemotional PGA pros (and I won't mention David Duval in this regard), Mickelson still comes across as a fresh-faced amateur who's been allowed to play with the big boys.