An idiot, that is.
Phil Mickelson is not an idiot.
Thats what he called himself moments after gift-wrapping the U.S. Open and handing it to Australias Geoff Ogilvy late Sunday at the teeming, steaming cauldron that was Winged Foot.
But Phil Mickelson is not an idiot.
Write it on the blackboard 500 times, Lefty.
I am not an idiot.
Mondays New York Post screamed that Mickelson was, AW-PHIL!
The rival Daily News called his failure a meltdown.
Indeed, it was a Mickel-shame. A Mickel-sham. Zinged Foot. A New York state of loss of mind. A Phlop.
But idiots arent smart enough to call themselves idiots. Mickelson is a lot of things. Smart is one of them. Idiot is not. He is still the best player in the world at the moment. But there is a difference between idiocy and temporary golfing insanity.
The latter is what happened to Lefty Sunday. He needed par on the 72nd hole to win the championship he coveted so much. What he made was a double bogey when his driver let him down yet again, followed by an egregious error in course management, followed by a tree getting the way of his second, followed by a fried egg lie in a greenside bunker in three, followed by a failure to produce the miracle up and down that would have produced a playoff.
I am such an idiot, Mickelson said after finishing second in the U.S. Open for the fourth time in eight years.
It is a quote that will live in infamy in golf lore right next to Roberto DiVicenzos sad declaration moments after handing the 1968 Masters to Bob Goalby because he signed an incorrect scorecard.
What a stupid I am, DiVicenzo said.
Mickelson will live to fight another day. But, as he said, this one will sting. A par on the 72nd hole would have given him three victories in his last three majors. It would have left him half way to a calendar grand slam and three quarters of the way to the so-called Mickel-Slam.
It would have galvanized the entire sports world that, soon enough, will be without the NBA finals and the World Cup.
Odd, isnt it that prior to his 1968 buffoonery at the Masters DiVicenzo had won the 1967 British Open at Royal Liverpool in England. Royal Liverpool is the same golf course that will host the Open Championship next month.
The Beatles came to us from Liverpool. And the mania of Mickelsons streak would have inspired paperback writers eight days a week.
Instead we are left to ponder yesterday and cry for help--help to figure out how the thinking mans player seized up with a brain cramp at the worst possible time. Or, for that matter, how Colin Montgomerie also doubled the 72nd when par would have won him his first major championship.
The winner, Ogilvy, chipped in on 17 Sunday and got up and down for par on 18. He won the U.S. Open just as much as Lefty and Monty lost it.
Im just not buying Mickelsons idiocy plea. Hes savvier than that. Just when the golf world was beginning to wonder what Tiger was going to do next, we are forced again to ponder what Phil did last.
Agree with him. Call him an idiot if you must. But idiots dont get to the tee box on the last hole of the U.S. Open needing par to win.
Phil Mickelson is smart and good. And, for the moment in his own mind, he is worse than an idiot.
Hes the guy who should have won the U.S. Open and didnt.
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