Questioning the Perfect Shot

By Rex HoggardApril 14, 2010, 2:04 am
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Davis Love III paused for a long moment, considered the question and the consequences of his answer, and finally owned it, delivering what his heart and his head knew to be true: “That will be a shot of all time. Right there with Tiger’s chip (2005) and Sarazen’s 4-wood (1935).”

Heady stuff from a guy who has logged more miles down Magnolia Lane than any active player, yet nearly 48 hours removed the emotions and enormity of Phil Mickelson’s bold second shot at Augusta National’s 13th hole had not faded.
Phil Mickelson and Jim Mackay
Phil Mickelson hugs caddie Jim Mackay after winning the Masters. (Getty Images)
“That’s Phil,” Love said. “He wants to win so bad he can convince himself to hit a perfect shot.”

Left unsaid in that context wasn’t whether Mickelson hit the “perfect shot,” but rather did he hit the right shot? History and a third green jacket would suggest that it doesn’t matter. But on a sun-splashed practice tee at cozy Harbour Town the Tuesday morning quarterbacks descended on the type of crossroads decision that defines careers.

There is no question the emotional victory was a boon for the game, but it may have set course management back 100 years.

“That’s why (Mickelson) wins a lot and loses a lot,” smiled one veteran caddie who, like most engaged in the great Mickelson debate, requested anonymity.

These are the facts, for those who have been in solitary confinement or in a comma for the last two days: with a one-stroke lead Mickelson roped his 6-iron second shot from 207 yards at the par-5 13th hole through a gap in two pine trees about 4 feet wide from a delicate lie on the pine straw, over Rae’s Creek to 4 feet. He missed the eagle putt, but the birdie virtually lifted Lefty to dormie status.

“A great shot is when you pull it off. A smart shot is when you don't have the guts to try it,” Mickelson said on Sunday at Augusta National.

It is also a fact that Mickelson’s caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, made two runs at his boss in attempt to get him to layup. The first request was met with a, “no.” The second landed a stout, “definitely no.”

On Tuesday around the Tour office cooler most Tour players agreed that, in the same situation, they would have punched out short of the green and took their chances with a wedge and a putt.

“That’s unbelievable seeing where he was,” said Vaughn Taylor, an Augusta native who missed playing in the Masters this year but not a minute of the happenings on TV. “I was thinking, he’s got to lay up, then I hear him going, ‘hole high,’ and thought, ‘Hole high to what?’ He’s going for the green.”

For the record, Taylor said he would have laid up on the hole. Ditto for Heath Slocum and at least a half dozen other players.

“That’s what makes Phil Phil,” Slocum said. “He loves to gamble.”

Lost in the post-Masters hyperbole is the fact that this was, after all, the same DNA that sent Mickelson spiraling out of control down the 72nd fairway at Winged Foot a few years back. The fine line between success and failure in these situations has nothing on the tightrope between hero and hopeless.

“He has to lay up. Think about it, he makes birdie laying up 80 percent of the time,” one player said.

Mickelson ranks 27th on Tour in proximity to the hole (10 feet, 2 inch average) for shots from 50 to 75 yards and he’s converting 10-footers this year better than all but 47 player. By comparison, he’s 31st on Tour in scrambling, a fact that supports Mackay’s post-round reasoning that even if he hits into the creek his man could still make par.

One caddie suggested Mickelson should have hit 5-iron, assuring he could carry Rae’s Creek, but another pointed out that K.J. Choi ended up above the hole on Sunday and had little chance of getting up-and-down.

Simply put, players will question the play, not the player, and no one knew that better than Mackay, who – more so than perhaps any other caddie – has a standing invitation to butt in when Mickelson becomes unclear between what is prudent and what is possible.

“It seems like they are the ultimate team now,” Love said. “Bones has talked him off the ledge a lot.”

It’s a delicate line a caddie must walk when, like Mackay, his man is uninterested in advice or odds. A point must be made, but not at the cost of a player’s confidence or his ability to pull off the shot.

“I would say, ‘You can make birdie from anywhere but the water,’” said Col Swatton, Jason Day’s caddie. “How they interpret that is up to them, layup short, go for the green, whatever.”

What is certain, for Mickelson there is no failsafe. For all the talk in recent years that the “Thrill” was gone, Sunday’s theatrics prove that under the gun a singular talent will ignore the odds, conventional wisdom, history, even his own caddie if the reward outweighs the risks.

“Sometimes you stay out of the way because great players do great things,” Slocum said.

 And sometimes they don’t, which is why he will always be the “Thrill.”
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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.