Mickelson's 60 a great round, but comes up short

By Jason SobelJanuary 31, 2013, 11:06 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Unless you have three Masters titles to your name and $67,681,223 in official career on-course earnings and the adulation of millions of fans and a power game off the tee mixed with a finesse game around the greens and a buttery putting stroke and a great family life and your own charitable foundation, you probably don’t know what it’s like to be Phil Mickelson.

So here’s a clue.

On Thursday, in the first round of his 468th start on the PGA Tour, Mickelson tied the best score of his career. His 11-under 60 was equal to the sixth-best score in history, four strokes better than anyone else in the Waste Management Phoenix Open field and 10 strokes better than any of his four rounds at Torrey Pines a week ago.

Afterward, he was asked about it. Myriad questions about what went right and why he scored so low and how excited he was about the day. Mickelson looked each questioner in the eye, shook his head in that patented “aw, shucks” way of his and this is what he said:

“Man, you just don't get those opportunities very often…

… I’m very disappointed…

… it's crushing…

… it's unfortunate…

… it kind of mortifies me…

… that one was heartbreaking…”

There is something that separates the great players from the good and the elite players from the great. And no, that something isn’t deer antler spray.

Most players would be performing cartwheels down the fairways after a 60. They’d be ecstatic about the accomplishment, proud of the way they started low and went even lower.

Phil Mickelson

Photos: Mickelson through the years

Not that Mickelson wasn’t, but his tone said otherwise. To him, this was an opportunity wasted. There have been five scores of 59 posted in PGA Tour history and the excitable lefty wanted to join that list. No, he wanted to better it. He wanted to become the first player ever to post lower than 59. The first player to make the impossible possible.

This was different than the last time he shot 60 in an official tournament, right here at TPC-Scottsdale. Eight years ago, in the second round of this event, Mickelson birdied the final five holes to post that score. It was like a race car driver stepping on the gas pedal over the last few laps to sneak across the finish line in impressive time.

Sure, there were missed chances and botched putts, but on that day 60 felt like an emphatic success.

On Thursday, it felt like failure.

It’s all in the way it happened, of course. He opened with a birdie on his first hole – the 10th on the course – and then followed with another and another and another. When he made the turn, Mickelson was at 7-under 29 and not just thinking about 59. He was thinking about 58.

“For the whole back nine I'm thinking, let's go,” he later said. “I made that putt on 1, I'm thinking it. I hit a shot on 2 that had action; it went a little long, but made a good par. [Then] I birdied 3 and 4. Done deal. I'm going to get this done.”

He needed two birdies in his last five holes. Then he needed one birdie in his last two holes. Just one little birdie for a man who averages 4.75 each round so far this season – or one every 3.78 holes.

On his second-to-last hole, Mickelson had a mere 17 feet for that birdie. His read was true, but he left it short, recalling an old axiom in the game: Never leave your putt for a potential 59 short.

And so it came down to the final hole. After another drilled drive and green in regulation, 25 feet separated him from history. Mickelson stroked the putt, watched it, walked after it, pointed at it, saw it hit the lip of the cup and somehow stay out of the hole, horseshoeing back toward him mockingly.

He held his head and muttered to himself. Just a few feet away, his longtime caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, fell to his knees. They hadn’t mentioned the score between them – Mackay compared it to “a pitcher in the middle of throwing a no-hitter” – but each man knew what was at stake.

“Well, 60 is awesome,” Mickelson explained. “But there's a big difference between 60 and 59. Not that big between 60 and 61, there really isn't. But there's a big barrier, a Berlin Wall barrier, between 59 and 60.”

In all realms of the game, Mickelson succeeded on Thursday. He played better than everyone else in the field; scored better than almost everyone else to ever play a PGA Tour round. And yet, he couldn’t climb that wall. He couldn’t break the barrier from great to historic, leaving him shaking his head and muttering and using words like “disappointed” and “mortified.”

This is what it’s like to be Phil Mickelson. To be so proficient at your craft, such an elite competitor, that shooting one of the lowest scores in history isn’t good enough, for the simple reason that it’s not the lowest. This is what it’s like to feel failure – even when you find success.

Getty Images

Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.