The Greening of Phil Mickelson


Now that we know what Phil did next it will be interesting to see how the best of the rest of the players in the world react.
Will they start putting two drivers in their bag? Will they start preparing for major championships by making sure they play in an event the week before?
It is important to note that Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have won six of the last 10 Masters. It is even more important to note that Mickelson is the only player other than Woods to capture more than one green jacket since Woods turned professional in late 1996.
The 70th Masters that Mickelson won by two shots over Tim Clark Sunday was the first Masters since 1955 that didnt give us Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in Thursdays groupings.
Now we have Tiger and Phil. We can only hope what we are seeing is the incipient stage of a similar rivalry.
Of this you can be sure: Woods will come roaring back. Right now his father is fighting cancer. We cant pretend to know how deeply that affects the son on and off the golf course. What we can do is offer our prayers.
Meanwhile, last week at Augusta was about Phil. Most of the critics are praising the powers-that-be at Augusta National for the changes that lengthened and toughened the golf course.
The downside is The Masters, at times, had the flavor of a U.S. Open. Not that theres anything wrong with that flavor. Its just that Augusta National probably isnt the venue you want to leave with that kind of taste in your mouth.
In the end, Mickelson led The Masters in driving distance and played the par 5s in 13-under-par for the week. You can decide for yourself who the new set-up did or did not favor.
What we know for sure is Mickelson, 35, has now won two straight majors, starting with last summers PGA Championship at Baltusrol. He has won two straight PGA Tour events, starting with the BellSouth earlier this month. And he has won two of the last three Masters. His 29 career PGA Tour victories is one more than Vijay Singhs total.
If they played The Masters again next week, Mickelson would be the clear favorite to win it again. He has triumphed at Augusta from the front of the pack and he has won coming from behind on Sunday. In his last eight Masters, Mickelson has never failed to finish in the top 10.
In a certain sense Mickelson was Tiger Woods before Tiger Woods was. Mickelson won a U.S. Amateur. He won an NCAA individual. And he won a PGA Tour event before he turned professional.
He was the comet in golfs galaxy.
Then Woods, five years his junior, came along and interrupted the parabolic rise of Mickelsons ascent.
Woods rocked a lot of people when he made the scene. But none more so than Mickelson and, to a lesser extent, Ernie Els.
Today we can say that Mickelson has taken Woods best shots and finally gotten himself back on his own two professional feet.
Mens professional golf moves forward from here with great anticipation. Suddenly it is more compelling than it has been in a long time.
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