Sunday, January 30, 2011

What If Mickelson Had Made It Happen?

Maybe it looked like a hot dog move Phil Mickelson pulled Sunday afternoon when he sent his caddie, Jim 'Bones' Mackay ahead to the 18th green at Torrey Pines and had him tend the flagstick while Lefty tried to hole a 72-yard wedge shot to force sudden-death with Bubba Watson.

But it was a great moment, a perfectly Phil moment, and that's why he's popular like no one else.

No one else would send their caddie to hold the flag on a wedge shot from the fairway even if they thought about it. But Phil did and he almost pulled off the most talked about shot since he ripped a 6-iron out of the Georgia pine straw last April in Augusta.

Mickelson needed to make a three to tie Watson and he had already laid up with his second shot because he didn't have a club he felt he could get on the green from where his ball was. His hybrid wouldn't clear the pond and his 3-wood would go too far,

So Mickelson took the conservative route and when Watson holed what turned cut to be the winning birdie putt Mickelson had no choice but to try to hole his wedge shot. He walked to the green and read the break from behind the hole like a man who believed he had a legimate chance at holing the shot.

Then he almost did it.

Mickelson explained it by saying he hits the flag a dozen or so times a season with his wedge and, most often, the ball goes skittering away from the hole so he wanted to eliminate that possibility. The very thing happened to Charles Howell III there a few years ago, costing him a chance to win.

As it turned out, Watson won by a stroke, reinforcing the a notion he's growing into his talent, But Mickelson gave everyone watching one of those "are you kidding me?" moments.

He didn't pull it off but he made us believe he might. That's part of his gift.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand, what does this have to do with Tiger Woods?