Jason Sobel - June 1, 2012


GolfChannel.com Senior Writer Jason Sobel is in Dublin, Ohio for the Memorial Tournament. He was among the media members interviewing Phil Mickelson after Phil announced that he was withdrawing due to mental fatigue. Phil said that he needed a couple of days to rest and added that he was withdrawing.

The impression many people had of Bubba Watson in the first round was that Watson seemed out of sorts. Many patrons were taking pictures of their group with cell phones and it is reasonable to wonder whether or not the distraction of cell phones played a role in Phil’s decision to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament. Watson was certainly frustrated about the cell phones and let the media know that after his round.

After Phil’s withdrawal, half of the tweets that Sobel received said that the media was being too hard on Phil while the other half said that they were not being hard enough on him for withdrawing. Both points of view are valid and it brings up the question of whether or not a player of Phil’s stature has an additional obligation to not withdraw from a tournament barring serious illness or an emergency.

When Angel Cabrera withdrew from THE PLAYERS due to personal reasons after making a 9 on the 17th hole, many people in the media center laughed at that announcement and felt that Cabrera was withdrawing due to poor play. Sobel understands that players withdraw from tournaments every week for many different reasons- some of them legitimate and some of them not as legitimate.

In his second visit to Friday’s edition of Morning Drive, Sobel said that there has been some conversation at Muirfield Village about whether or not cell phones played a role in Mickelson’s decision to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament. Phil did not blame cell phones and instead said that he was just tired but after seeing how frustrated he was on the course on Thursday, it is possible that cell phones did play a role.

As for a solution to the problem of people taking pictures with their cell phones, while it is certainly a distraction to the players it is a difficult task for marshals to police patrons to make sure that they are not taking pictures. The PGA TOUR desires maximizing attendance at its tournaments and it is a fact that many people would be dissuaded from attending a tournament if they are told that they cannot have their cell phones with them for several hours at a time when they are at a tournament.

A lot of rain has fallen in Dublin, Ohio and as a result it is very overcast at Muirfield Village and considerably cooler today than it was on Thursday. Play is underway in the second round on a course that is significantly softer which improves the scoring possibilities. As far as Sobel knows, the players are not playing lift, clean, and place in these wet conditions but it is still very likely that the scores will be lower in the second round.