What Phil Did Last

By Brian HewittFebruary 11, 2008, 5:00 pm
New golf joke:
 
Q: Whats the only thing worse than making an 11 on No. 14?
 
A: Making a 14 on No. 11.
 
No, nobody made a 14 on the 11th hole on the PGA TOUR over the last four days. But by now the whole golf world knows world No. 2 Phil Mickelson carded an 11 on the par 5 14th at Pebble Beach Saturday.
 
For what its worth, a lot of Monterey Peninsula veteran golf watchers think No. 14, an uphill, dogleg right, with a slight reverse camber to a nasty, split-level green complex, is the hardest hole on the course. Steve Lowery, who beat Vijay Singh in a Sunday playoff bogeyed 14 in the final round. So did Singh.
 
Its just not worth 11 pops.
 
So now Phils critics will come out in force again. Theyll recount all the makeable putts he missed just last week at the FBR Open down the stretch that allowed J.B. Holmes to catch him on the 72nd hole and beat him in a playoff.
 
Theyll remind us of the clutch of sloppy errors Phil made at Riviera last year that opened the door for Charles Howell III to beat him in a playoff there.
 
Theyll re-tell the story of the meltdown at Winged Foot in the 2006 U.S. Open when bad judgment and worse execution on the final hole cost Mickelson that championship and prompted him to label himself such an idiot moments after he had gone down in figurative flames .
 
Some will even think back to the 2002 PLAYERS when he 5-putted the 10th green.
 
What will Phil do next? they will snicker with glee while smugly rolling their eyes.
 
And they will all have missed the point.
 
The only thing Phil Mickelson was thinking about when he reached No. 14 Saturday at Pebble was winning the golf tournament. If theres any part of that you dont understand, read one of Tiger Woods biographies.
 
Mickelson was 2 under standing on the 14th tee Saturday and rightly figured a birdie there and a birdie on the par-5 18th, accompanied by one or two other birdies in between, would have putt him within striking distance of the lead which wound up at 9 under by the time darkness fell over the Del Monte Forest Saturday night.
 
For years now Americas top male golfers have been charged, as a group, with being fat and happy thanks to purses that have made millionaires out of players who never dreamed what the career money list would look like one day.
 
But what most people never realized was this: If you are massively-talented, highly-motivated and financially-secure for life, you can afford to play for first place and take the consequences when that noble goal doesnt work out every time.
 
Money isnt necessarily a disincentive. Ill look forward to coming back next year, Mickelson said late Saturday, not hiding from reporters after the 11 on 14. I always do.
 
And he will return with one thought in mind: Winning.
 
Go ahead and rip Phil for his shot selection at Winged Foot. I suspect nobody, in the cold aftermath of that galling defeat, was harder on Mickelson than Mickelson himself. But if you want to mock him for his 11 on 14 Saturday at Pebble, you just dont get it.
 
The mentality that allows a player to put himself in a position to run the risk of going down in flames, is the only mentality that, if allowed to incubate, will encourage players to beard the Tiger in his own den.
 
And that, after all, is the only thing professional golf needs more than Tiger Woods these days: Players who will truly challenge him.
 
Phil Mickelson likes to say its Tigers world and hes just living in it. But at least hes living in it without surrendering his hubris; without giving in to resignation.
 
Mickelsons crash and burn and missed cut at Pebble Beach was an unhappy accident but it didnt lack for color. In fact, Pebble Beach'where the reds are redder, the greens are greener and the blues are bluer'is a living advertisement for the advantages of HDTV.
 
The flushed face Mickelson wore late Saturday was unmistakable. But at least he came by it honestly.
 
Q: Whats the only thing worse than a making an 11 on No. 14.
 
A: Not having a good explanation why.
 
Saturday at Pebble Beach Phil Mickelson had one.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
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    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.