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My 2014 Moment: Mickelson's Hospitality Shots

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(Editor's note: This is part of a series in which staff reveal their favorite or personal moments of 2014.)

Phil Mickelson made so many headlines in 2014, it's easy to forget he didn't win a tournament and finished with two top-10s all season (Abu Dhabi, PGA).

There was an insider-trading probe, three WDs, a shocking missed cut at the Masters, a failed bid to complete the career slam at Pinehurst, a controversial finish at the PGA, and, for his grand finale, a coup at the Ryder Cup.

But my favorite Mickelson moment of 2014 was his not one but two shots from a hospitality area at The Barclays.

In the second round, Mickelson tried to drive the par-4 fifth hole, but his ball hit the cart path left of the green and bounced into the hospitality area. Walking to his ball, Mickelson fist-bumped fans as they took pictures with their phones, and he politely declined their multiple offers to give him a beer.

It didn't take long for Mickelson to decide what to do.

“My drop was going to be in hay,” he said. “I had a clear lie on nice ground there and played it.”

Whether it's playing off a cart path at Doral, the pine straw at Augusta or a backward bunker shot, Mickelson's jaw-dropping shots follow a familiar pattern:

1. Hits bad shot.

2. Ignores safe options.

3. Hits incredible recovery.

4. Crowd goes wild.

5. Explains afterward how to play the shot and why it really wasn't that hard.

But what made this episode stand out was he hit the exact same poor drive the very next day and played from the hospitality area again. And this time it was even more difficult since Mickelson had to pitch it over the corner of the tent and still land it on a small green. (He did, and just missed the birdie putt).

One of my co-workers came in that day and asked, "What's goin' on?"

"Phil hit from the hospitality area."

"Yeah, I saw that yesterday."

"No, he hit from there again."


Mickelson's shots remind me of Rene Russo's character, Dr. Molly Griswold, in "Tin Cup". After Kevin Costner's Roy McAvoy holes a 3-wood for a 12, he grumbles that he just blew the U.S. Open trying to prove he could hit the par-5 18th green in two.

"No one's going to remember the Open five years from now – who won, who lost," Griswold shouts at McAvoy. "But they're going to remember your 12!"

Sure enough, I had to look up who won The Barclays. (Sorry, Hunter Mahan.) But I'll never forget Mickelson hitting two shots from the hospitality area.