June 19, 2006


Opportunity, And Paradise, Lost at Open (Thomas Boswell, June 19, 2006, Washington Post)

Whether he knew it or not, Mickelson had joined the mood of the mob -- joyful, hopeful but, in a golf sense, mindless. Grab that driver, Phil, don't play it safe. And Mickelson did just that, not carrying a 3-wood Sunday despite Saturday-night advice from his caddie. Mickelson let the big dog eat all day. And it devoured him. He hit two fairways.

On No. 16, his drive found the rough and led to bogey. At 17, his next drive landed in a garbage can. Honest. After a free drop, he saved a zany par. But once your ball goes in the garbage, what's next? An Open down the drain? Panic was in place.

Finally, by the 18th hole, Mickelson had completely lost his golf senses. He hit four of the most poorly judged, badly executed and disastrous shots that any great player has ever inflicted on himself one right after the other.

When his final tee shot left the club, Mickelson said, "Oh, no." It's hard to hit the Champions Tent. But he did it. The fates gave him a double-edged break. From a hard-pan lie in the rough, he could pitch safely back to the fairway, probably make bogey at worst and have a Monday playoff. Or he could bomb his ball into the 18th grandstand 200 yards away and get a free drop near the green, virtually ensuring a bogey at worst and still leaving the possibility of an Open-winning up-and-down for par.

Or he could do what the crowd wanted: He could try the brave, dumb "Tin Cup" shot, a big slice carved between two trees that might, with luck and ideal execution, somehow reach the green.

"No problem, Phil," yelled a fan as Mickelson contemplated this trick shot from hell.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2006 7:37 AM

Golf has to be the world's most absurd, and therefore funniest, game.

Posted by: pj at June 19, 2006 8:06 AM

Very humbling too.

Posted by: Bartman at June 19, 2006 8:51 AM

I was rooting for Monty myself. He didn't exactly crown himself with glory with his double bogey on 18 either.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 19, 2006 10:43 AM


Actually Arnie had some famous meltdowns. Probably the two best remembered were the 1961 Masters where he lost to Gary Player with a double bogey on the 18th and the 1966 US Open at the Olympic Club where he went aggressive trying to break Ben Hogan's all-time scoring record and blew a 7 shot lead on the back 9 to Billy Casper.

There was a reason Arnie won only 6 majors and it's the same reason Phil has only won 3.

Posted by: jeff at June 19, 2006 11:05 AM

Monty always chokes.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2006 11:58 AM