The answer, of course, is: Pretty much anything he pleases. Watch for the rest of 2004 to be a kind of victory lap for Phil Mickelson. Everywhere he goes he will be bathed in adulation. The golf public understands - even people who arent Mickelson fans - that he is a major talent who deserves a spot in the pantheon of major championship winners.
Sunday at Augusta he made the decisions; hit the shots and won the Masters. Now we must consider, in light of the current downturn of form by Tiger Woods, that Mickelson will be the favorite when he arrives at Shinnecock Hills out on Long Island in June for the U.S. Open.
What will Tiger do next?
Almost certainly he will re-double his efforts. He will probably re-think his decision to be completely self-taught going forward. And he will get on with his life. The latter is something none of the rest of us should forget. Woods is engaged to be married. This is a special and happy time for him. We should not think any less of him if, for the first time in his life, golf is not the No. 1 priority.
What will the media do next?
Break the ice at Mickelsons next press conference by making this the first question: Phil, does it bother you that you have won only one major championship? All kidding aside, Mickelson has a lot to say about the game, the swing and the politics of golf. I look forward to hearing more of his views on these topics now that most of his press conferences wont be haunted by his perceived past failures.
What will Ernie Els do next?
Thats a tough one. Els was in a great spot to win the Masters and get three quarters of the way to the career Grand Slam. He shot 67 Sunday at Augusta National and led by three shots deep into the final nine holes. Only a 31 coming home by Mickelson, including a birdie on the 72nd hole, beat him. Els record at the Masters is strong. Five top-sixes in a row. Its hard to determine right now who is the best player never to have won a major. But Els is clearly the best current player never to have won a Masters. And I mean that as a compliment.
What will Sergio do next?
Sergio Garcia was openly pouting after shooting a final day 66 at the Masters, the best round of the tournament. It was hard to know exactly why. But it had something to do with his unhappiness over the medias choice of emphasis. If Garcia chooses to use these perceived slights as motivation, I wish him good luck. If he chooses to take on the media in an all-out war, I would advise him that his energies can be better channeled in other directions.
What will the Masters do next?
The answer, of course, is: Whatever it pleases. But I would love it if they churned out a press release announcing that there will be no changes to the golf course for next years tournament. This was the year they got it just right at Augusta National.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt