Hold Onto the Ball Lefty

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Phil Mickelson, debuting this week at the Bob Hope, apparently possesses an excellent grasp of football. Hell, I'd sooner ask Lefty whom he likes in the Bears/Eagles game than which way a putt breaks. He cashed in for major six figures on the Ravens a year ago and let it be known that he's bet on the Rams to win the big show next month.
 
No doubt Mickelson understands the value of playing mistake-free football. What he's yet to do to is apply that fundamental to his own golf game.
 
If Mickelson doesn't turn the ball over, he figures to have a great shot to win because his skill level is just that much better than most of his opponents. Not unlike the St. Louis Rams, Mickelson can do things, scores points, put up crazy numbers and take and make shots that other guys can't.
 
To carry the football analogy futher, take a closer look at David Duval at Royal Lytham at last year's British Open. Not only did he not cough up the ball as he was driving for victory, he shoved it down the throat of the rest of the field. Mickelson at the majors has yet to do that. Phil, when driving for victory at the Masters, the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open, has failed to convert the critical third or fourth down with time running out.
 
Speaking of football, Jerry Kelly credits Brett Favre for helping him finally break through for his first PGA Tour win. Kelly just moved back from Florida to his native and beloved Wisconsin. He unabashedly calls himself a cheesehead. Favre's dogged determination, Kelly said, inspired him in Hawaii. And while we're on the subject of football, Philly beats Chicago, the Rams fly by the Packers, The Bus rolls over the Raven and the Raiders rock the Patriots. Just hunches, so don't bet on it. I mean, who do you think I am, Phil Mickelson?
 
Just a thought on Sergio: Someone asked me if I thought Sergio was slow. I said great players who are slow aren't slow. They're deliberate.
 
By the way, fines for slow play will be more strongly enforced this season. Would I like to see pros play faster? No question. But what really drives me nuts is to watch 15-handicappers imitate every mannerism of a Tour player, grind for 40 seconds over a shot and then bunt the ball back to the pitcher's mound. Each cart should be equipped with a timer which blurts out, 'Pull the friggin' trigger already!'
 
Moving on, here's something to ponder: Is Tiger hurting his chances of catching Snead's alltime PGA Tour victory mark of 81 by playing overseas? He's already got 29 wins in 5 1/2 years, an average of more than five per season. At the current rate, he'll hit 81 in 10 years.
 
Conservatively, if he averages three wins a season, he'd need to play about 17 more years to make it happen. Snead was 52 when he won for the 81st time and took roughly 31 years to amass the record, averaging 2.6 victories per season. So the answer to the original question is probably no, Tiger is not significantly hurting his chances. Still, it makes you wonder how much more he would win if he played more frequently in the States. Or does he win now because he's generally so fresh?
 
Finally, Casey Martin had a scare over the weekend. Makes you appreciate even more fully just what he was able to accomplish on basically one leg. No matter where you stand on the cart issue, it's damn hard to deny him a spot in the field consisting of real life winners and courageous heroes. Get back soon, Casey.