Blog Entry

Mickelson primed, ready for Pebble spotlight

Posted on: June 18, 2010 11:28 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2010 2:32 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Good thing Phil Mickelson’s wife and kids flew into town late Friday night. Otherwise, he would have been bored out of his gourd on Saturday.

Because tee times for the leaders have been pushed back close to 4 p.m. Pacific in order to ensure what figures to be a massive television audience on the East Coast, Mickelson will be cranking it up at 3:30 p.m. local time in the third round.

Thus, he’ll have to find a way to while away a few hours. Of course, it beats the heck out of the alternative,

“It’s cool,” he cracked. “It’s better than an 8 o’clock [a.m.] tee time.”

Rest assured, Lefty is clearly ready for prime time after matchng his career-low score in the Open.

Mickelson, the only player who can win the Grand Slam, shot the low round of the week by two shots on Friday with a 5-under 66 that jumped him 64 spots up the leaderboard and into a tie for second place, two strokes behind Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell.

Mickelson, who raked it all around the Pebble Beach Golf Links greens in the first round, was almost infallible on the putting surfaces a day later, reeling off five birdies in seven holes on his front nine to vault into a four-way tie for second with a group that includes three-time major winner Ernie Els. No question, Mickelson was the toast of Monterey after the way he roasted Pebble.

“It was spectacular all day,” playing partner Padraig Harrington said of Lefty’s round. “I got to see it first-hand. He didn’t miss a shot. It’s the best I have ever seen him play.

“It was as easy a 66 as you will ever see.”

The terms easy, 66 and U.S. Open have rarely been used in the same sentence, but that’s how well Mickelson played on Friday, when he positioned himself for yet another shot at the biggest title that has thus far eluded him. Mickelson, with a record five runner-up finishes in the Open already under his belt, said he hasn’t even begun to think about what the title would mean. That might be a wise choice, given the water under his professional bridge in this event.

“I'm in a good spot,” he said. “I don't look at the leaderboard, I don't look at other players.  I look at par. This is the only tournament really in professional golf that brings out Bobby Jones’ old saying of ‘playing against Old Man Par,’ because if you just can stay around par you're going to be in the tournament on Sunday, and that's kind of the goal.”

Not-So-Old Man Mickelson turned 40 on Wednesday, and he isn’t exactly showing signs of wear and tear. If his misfires at the Open in the past are wearing on him, and some of them have been spectacular, it’s hard to tell.
If Mickelson can nail down the title, he might look at the crucial stretch beginning at No. 2 on Friday as the key portion of the week. The second, a converted par-5, has been daunting all week, and Mickelson birdied it when most players would sell their souls for a simple par.

“I think that was a pretty good kick in the pants,” caddie Jim Mackay said.

Now he can start planting his foot on the backside of others. With three career wins at Pebble Beach and four major championships to his credit, Mickelson will be the big favorite on the weekend. All of a sudden, those five second-place finishes at the Open seem like a good thing, because he’s seen all the event can offer at this point.

“I think it’s big,” he said of his experience.”I think it’s really big. It’s important to know how to play these holes under these conditions and how to make pars.”

His ascendance up the board was big for the tournament, too. No knock on McDowell, Dustin Johnson or the other less-heralded players in the mix, but a duel between Els and Mickelson, with seven majors between them, sounds pretty good right now. Els has two U.S. Open crowns already.

Mickelson wasn’t about to delve into hypotheticals or forecasting. In fact, he is squarely in the moment and reveling in it. A player many believed didn’t have the self-discipline to play the most demanding setups in the sport at the Open is again right where he wants to be.

Even if his late tee slot runs through dinner time.

“This is so much fun,” he said. “I don’t want the weekend to end.”

Category: Golf

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: June 19, 2010 12:51 pm

Mickelson primed, ready for Pebble spotlight

I am tired of hearing people say "Tiger was out 8 months" about how many events he ACTUALLY MISSED?  Let's see, well he "got injured" in November, so November, December is 2 months he never plays.  He never plays in January over in Hawaii...he never plays Riveria...usually he only plays in the "select" events before the Masters (Torrey Pines, Arnie and Jack's stops, all the WGC events....which ALL the top players played in).  This I believe is his 5th maybe he has missed TWO at the most.  Well, let's see....2009 the Open was event number 8 for the year, 2008 was event number 6 for the year, 2007 it was event number 9 (because he played Quail Hollow), 2006 it was event number 8 (because it was the last time he played Riveria).  Come on dude, spew FACTS when you spew sheet.  It isn't like Phil or anyone else is playing the Valero Texas Open, or over in Puerto Rico to catch up to him.

Since: May 17, 2009
Posted on: June 19, 2010 12:28 pm

Mickelson primed, ready for Pebble spotlight

Well said.

I hate it when someone gives me an update on the radio and says, "Ernie Els is your leader, and Tiger Woods is 5 strokes back." Why do you need to mention where Tiger Woods is in the tounament all the time! "Phil Mickelson is in the lead at 2 under. Tiger Woods tee's off at 2:30." WHO CARES?!?!?!

Phil is my favorite player and when they say someone else is in the lead and then tells me where Tiger Woods is, I go off the wall. I'm like, "Screw Tiger Woods! Where is Lefty on the leaderboard!"

Give us just the leader or the entire leaderboard. Stop putting Tiger Woods in the spotlight. The guy is DONE (Thank God).

Since: Jul 19, 2007
Posted on: June 19, 2010 12:15 pm

It figures

We knew Solid Gold would have his say. The world's biggest Tiger apologist, he has his head so far up his hero's butt that he never knows when it is sunny outside. He must search for articles which just MIGHT mention Tiger - notice this article was about Lefty. In the past, he has even blasted Elling as a Tiger hater. Now THERE'S a laugh!

Whether or not he wants to admit it, Phil is the best player in the world right now. The flawed ranking system he mentioned actually keeps Tiger afloat. I am not saying that Phil has been better than Tiger in the past nor am I saying he will be better in the future. But he has been for awhile - CBS mentioned during the Masters that Phil has placed higher at the last several tournaments the two have played together.

And lest we forget, Phil quit golf for a period of time because of illness in his family. Although not as flamboyant as bedding porn stars when one has (had) a supermodel wife, Phil has his own rust and inactivity to overcome.

I'm actually not counting Tiger out this weekend. The conditions will be easier when he tees off, and low scores can be posted. I think he is that good of a player. But it is amusing when others get upset by the mere complimenting of the player who is (presently) the best in the world. And Phil will always be more classy - he will not fist pump in an opponent's face or ask fans to move a boulder that accidentally got in the way of his golf ball. (Remember that???) I cannot understand how even the most ardent Tiger lover can hate Mickelson. Maybe they follow the example of their leader in regards to classy behavior.

I hope Phil wins the Open, but if he doesn't, you can bet that he will sit at the interview table and politely answer every tough question which is asked. We would expect no less.

Since: Nov 18, 2006
Posted on: June 19, 2010 11:39 am

Mickelson primed, ready for Pebble spotlight

Maybe because he isn't? Anybody passing Woods at this point is doing it by default as you well know. He was out 8 months with an injury and then the self imposed hiatus do to the drama in his life. All that time off and nobody to this point has passed him still. The ranking goes back two years so all of that time off will catch up to him. Phil is the second best golfer in the world and will always, like Arnold Palmer in his day, will be remembered as such. He will more then likely gain the number one ranking at some point and hold it until Tiger gets it back. He deserves to have it at least for a short time he has been a great golfers for his entire career. But the best? You know that is nonsense. He will never attain the stats that Tiger has right now. Even if Tiger quits golf today. So enjoy the hating while you can. Things will be back to normal soon. Then Phills game will start to go with age just as Vijay's has. Remember him? He earned the #1 by winning 10    times in a season, not because someone had and injury or personal problems.

Since: Dec 27, 2006
Posted on: June 19, 2010 9:49 am

Mickelson primed, ready for Pebble spotlight

Chill out, Maux. I'm a Phil fan, but winning the US Open is the main story here. Becoming #1 would be icing on the cake.  Even Phil has acknowledged winning the US Open is more important than any world ranking. This has nothing to do with Tiger and the troubles he's going through. Eventually he'll get his game back and then it'll get real interesting, golf will benefit from it.

Since: Nov 29, 2006
Posted on: June 19, 2010 9:21 am

Elling Ignores Elephant Standing In Room

In this entire column Elling conveniently ignored and failed to acknowledge the elephant standing in the corner. The biggest storyline is not Mickelson winning at Pebble, or finally adding the U.S. Open to his list of victories. The biggest storyline is Phil Mickelson is about to become the World No. 1, and lay claim to all those descriptive terms the media attributes to Tiger Woods, i.e. the greatest golfer on the planet, the world's best golfer. With a good finish this weekend, the media won't be able say "World No. 1" or "World's Best Golfer" forty times in a single article when writing about Woods. Ever notice that any time Woods is mentioned in the press, they make a point to emphasize he is the world's number one golfer about six or seven times, as if people didn't know who he was? Ever notice how Roger Federer is never treated similarly, and is never called the world's greatest tennis player?  Yes, the dreaded moment whereby Woods is supplanted as number one is upon us, and the talking heads are miserable. The question is, will Mickelson be afforded the same laurels as Woods, and treated equally by the meida when he dons the crown? Of course not. Want to bet that Phil will simply be called the "current number one" or "new number one"? How about just calling Phil "the greatest golfer on the planet"? Yeah, that has a nice sound to it.

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