The Most Entertaining Man on TV

By Mercer BaggsJuly 15, 2007, 4:00 pm
You dont have to like Phil Mickelson to enjoy watching him play. You just have to enjoy golf ' and roller-coasters and figurative train wrecks.
 
For sheer excellence, nobody beats Tiger Woods. For sheer entertainment, Mickelson gets the nod.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson reacts to his playoff loss in Scotland. (Getty Images)
Mickelson catches a ton of flack from fans and even his peers. Hes too aggressive, too erratic, too stubborn, too frustrating, too goofy, too fake. Maybe so, but theres no person more fun to watch coming down the stretch than Mickelson.
 
Case in point: Sunday at the Barclays Scottish Open, where he finished birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey to fall into a playoff with Frenchman Gregory Havret. In the extra session, he pushed a drive into the weeds which led to another bogey, and a loss.
 
It was classic Mickelson. Kind of like listening to a Fred Couples interview ' you had no earthly idea what direction he was going in.
 
After bogeying the 16th, Mickelson seemingly wrapped up the tournament by converting a lovely 25-foot birdie putt at 17. The third-ranked player in the world with a one-shot lead over the 320th-ranked player in the world, game over ' unless, of course, that third-ranked player has the name Mickelson on his bag.
 
Despite it all, Mickelson had a chance to win the tournament. He had a 15-footer for par on the final hole of regulation for victory, but it slid past the cup. He then had about 3 feet coming back for bogey.
 
Now normally, Havret would have been counting up his scorecard at this moment, making sure all of the numbers were right. He would have simply assumed that his opponent was going to make the short putt and they would be off to sudden death.
 
But not when your opponent is Phil Mickelson.
 
When the cameras turned on Havret, he wasnt looking at his scorecard. He wasnt even looking at Mickelson. He couldnt stand to watch, so he had to turn away. He knew that there was a chance Mickelson might miss, because with Mickelson, everything is a possibility.
 
The putt might go in. It might lip out. It might miss by two inches and run 5 feet past. All are legitimate outcomes; weve seen them all before.

And that is what makes Mickelson so very entertaining to watch, because with Mickelson there are no guarantees.
 
You can say that about any professional player, but Mickelson isnt just any professional. To borrow from Michelle Wie, hes Phil Freakin Mickelson. Only one player on the planet has more talent than does he; and at times Mickelson makes that an arguable statement.
 
Watching Mickelson play the final holes of a tournament with a chance to win is better than any reality TV youll ever see. Hes not playing to the cameras; there is no hidden agenda; and there certainly isnt a script.
 
With Mickelson you have to take the Dr. Jekyll with the Mr. Hyde, and usually youre going to see both in every round he plays.
 
This is the second time this year, and the second time since his collapse at Winged Foot, that Mickelson has had a one-shot lead entering the 72nd hole of an event, made bogey to force a playoff, and then lost that playoff. He did so earlier at the Nissan Open.
 
It will be interesting to see how this most recent loss affects Mickelsons confidence heading into the Open Championship at Carnoustie. As much as hell try to put a positive spin on it, there has to be some doubt in his mind as to if he can close out a major championship should he put himself in position to do so.
 
Or maybe that doubts just in my mind.
 
Either way, heres to hoping that he gets that opportunity. Because it doesnt matter if hes going head-to-head with Tiger Woods or Raphal Jacquelin, the real battle will be between Mickelson and himself. And I cant think of anything that would be more entertaining to watch.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The Barclays Scottish Open
  • Full Coverage - 136th Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

    Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

    Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

    Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.



    "I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

    Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

    But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

    "What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

    Getty Images

    Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

    By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

    Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

    And now, Greg Norman.

    Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

    He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.

     

    Getty Images

    DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

    With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

    Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

    Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

    Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

    16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

    20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

    100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

    Getty Images

    Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

    Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

    Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

    “We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

    “The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

    The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

    (All Times Local)

    Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

    Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

    Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

    Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

    Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

    Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

    NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.