Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:46 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 4:49 pm
By Steve Elling
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Gotta admit, this came as rather surprising news.
When Phil Mickelson slaughtered Tiger Woods by 11 strokes in the final round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday, blowing past the former world No. 1 like he was an unproven rookie, it wasn't even the worst head-to-head beat-down of Woods' career.
Or even of the past two years.
It was, however, the most lopsided score imbalance in a final round in Woods' considerable PGA Tour experience.
Mickelson started the final round six shots off the pace on Sunday, and after six holes, has already taken a two-stroke lead, leaving playing partner Woods and everybody else behind. For Woods, only twice before had he been whacked more brusquely by a playing partner.
Courtesy of former ABC Sports golf statistician Sal Johnson of Golfobserver.com, here are the gory details of Woods' most lopsided blowouts by a pairings mate.
Wells Fargo Championship
Paired with Angel Cabrera, who shot 67, while Tiger shot 79
Paired with Vijay Singh, who shot 63, while Tiger shot 75
Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Paired with Phil Mickelson, who shot 64, while Tiger shot 75
Paired with Davis Love, who shot 68, while Tiger shot 77
Paired with Vijay Singh, who shot 67, while Tiger shot 75
Greater Milwaukee Open
Third round, paired with Woody Austin, who shot 65, while Tiger shot 73
Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:37 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 1:35 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. – During a period in which golf has taken some big body shots, leaving administrators with metaphorical swollen eyes and some players and their employees with fat lips, the news from Singapore on Thursday morning was more than welcome.
Hardly a surprise, mind you, but as refreshing as an oceanside onshore breeze.
Six days after a caddie uttered a racial slut at an awards banquet and the world tours took no action, and mere hours after John Daly walked off the course and was banned by the PGA of Australia, one of the game’s biggest figures was fittingly fitted for a crown.
It wasn’t newsmaking in the least that Phil Mickelson was formally tapped to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame with the 2012 induction class, since according to admission rules he became eligible when he turned 40, but the timing could not have been better.
With much of the entire sports spectrum reeling in revelations of impropriety, criminal charges and racial utterances, Mickelson has been a rock of public-relations propriety for the PGA Tour for 20 years.
A model citizen whose mold has mostly been broken.
“The image of the players and the image of the game is the strongest thing we have, our biggest asset as an organization,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in Singapore. “Phil has contributed to that in a very, very positive way over two decades.
"He is exactly what you like to see in a player. If everybody conducted themselves like Phil week in and week out, we'd be stronger yet.”
Mickelson has been such a popular figure with fans, we can state this without equivocation – his autograph is as ubiquitous, and virtually valueless as a result of sheer volume, as Arnold Palmer’s, his predecessor as the people’s champ.
In voting that took place this fall, Mickelson was elected through the PGA Tour ballot with 72 percent of vote, the highest percentage a player has received since Greg Norman had 80 percent in '01.
At the time, one voting scribe was mulling leaving Lefty off his ballot because he thought Mickelson was too young for entry at age 41, and that the Hall should not induct any player until age 50. Ridiculous. Why hold Mickelson accountable for the Hall’s cumbersome entry requirements?
He should have been listed on every ballot. Well, unless Rees Jones has a vote. All Mickelson has done is conduct himself on the course just like his generational predecessor, Palmer, who inked more autographs in a day than some players – including certain former world No. 1s – have done in an entire season.
Ever seen Mickelson throw a club?
Ever seen Lefty dog-cuss a rules official, shred his caddie or spit on the putting green?
Go ahead and think about it. The induction ceremony isn’t until May 7. Good luck coming up with an example by then.
Finchem said we should have seen this day coming 20 years ago in Tucson, when Mickelson won a PGA Tour event as a college amateur, with his coach at Arizona State, Steve Loy, on the bag. Loy, now Mickelson’s manager, was at the Barclays Singapore Open for the announcement.
“I think all of us would agree that Phil has been, by all of our estimations, destined to be a part of the Hall of Fame since he was an amateur,” Finchem said.
It has often been pointed out that Mickelson has never topped the world ranking or money list, or been named the PGA Tour player of the year. But this the time to consider what he has accomplished over two decades.
He was a four-time NCAA All-American, won the U.S. Amateur, has won 39 times on the PGA Tour, and has four majors, more than any active player not named Woods. In the community, particularly his hometown of San Diego, it’s become impossible to track his philanthropic associations.
“This is a really special and cool honor,” Mickelson said. “I'm excited to be part of the Hall of Fame that has the names of the greats of the game that I looked up idolizing, and many of them that I've had a chance to compete against early in my career. To be a part of that group is a special feeling.”
Mickelson has gotten himself in some hot water here and there along the way, often by being a bit too outspoken about his peers or courses he doesn’t particularly relish, but in an eras when almost no utterance goes unreported, he’s been a modern-day beacon of integrity. No other eligible player over the past two decades has been more deserving of a first-ballot pass into the Hall, frankly.
“I've really loved these last 20 years of playing and competing, whether it's with the people that I've been able to be in business with, the players I've been able to compete against, the people of the media that we've been able to share the experience, the ups and downs, highs and lows, talking about it,” Mickelson said.
“Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's not. All those great experiences that have taken place in the last 20 years, it's really been fun, and I'm appreciative of the fact I've been able to play golf for a living, that I've been able to have partnerships with people that I enjoy spending my time with.”
Finchem called Mickelson personally and informed him that he’d topped the vote count. Everybody knew the call was coming, of course. It was even less surprising than former world No. 1 Ernie Els making the Hall on the first ballot last year.
“I think what I really like about being a member of the Hall of Fame is really being a part of that group, part of the players that have made the game great, has grown the game over the years, and the history, being a part of the history of the game, which is so cool,” Mickelson said.
A few years back, fellow scribe Rick Reilly rightly described Phil Mickelson as a Matador in Cleats. Just like Arnie, Mickelson thinks layups are for the basketball court. Whether he drilled it or drowned it, Mickelson's decision-making and execution have been intoxicating to watch. In terms of the most exciting players of the post-war era, he and Tiger Woods are in a class by themselves.
Of course, "class" has many definitions.
The putts have stopped falling as often, though he still hopes to reach 50 victories and complete the career Grand Slam – he still needs victories at the British and U.S. Opens – among other targets.
“It does make me sound a little bit old,” he said of the enshrinement. “I'm 41; I don't feel old. But I hopefully will be able to play quite a bit longer and compete.”
For the sake of our sports sanity down the road, let’s hope he’s got some horsepower left under the hood. After the past couple of weeks, across the sports spectrum, we can all use more exposure to guys who do it the right way.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 4:02 pm
Phil Mickelson has been a busy boy lately.
Looking at playing in each of the next three events on the PGA Tour, he spent part of his week off between the British Open and Greenbrier Classic making an appearance on the long-running Charlie Rose talk show.
He certainly made it worth the effort. His 19-minute studio slot ranks among the most entertaining Q&A sessions of his 20-year career.
Mickelson covered a broad range of topics, from Tiger Woods to his gaffes at the British Open two weeks ago, the state of the U.S. educational system, Darren Clarke, wife Amy's heath, and the rivalry with Woods that has never quite materialized at the majors. To his credit, Rose, a golfer himself, mostly cut to the chase and avoided throwing too many softball queries.
Here's the link:
Perhaps most memorably, Rose asked Mickelson what happened on the short putt he missed on the 11th hole in the final round that let the air out of his British Open chances and Lefty admitted that he's been struggling with the mental side of the game for quite some time. Mickelson said he was looking ahead to the next hole and forgot to concentrate on the 30-inch putt that cost him crucial momentum when he was only two behind Clarke.
"The easier the shot, the more my mind wanders," he said. "The easier the shot, the less-focused I am. I need to work on that."
Rose asked Mickelson to assess Woods' game when he was at the peak of his powers.
"Beyond description," Mickelson said. "I saw him hit shots that nobody else in the game could hit."
Posted on: March 25, 2011 2:53 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Hard as it might be to believe for golf fans, Phil Mickelson can still go out in public and not get bothered much.
Lefty and his 8-year-old son Evan went to Universal Orlando after Mickelson finished his first round on Thursday, and freely mixed with the customers, if you will. The theme parks this time of year, when spring break is in full swing, are packed.
Given his many TV commercials over the years, I asked if he gets recognized when out in public in his civilian clothes, or if people stay a respectful distance away. It's the latter, actually.
"It's mostly just, 'Hey,'" he said before starting his second round Friday. "Basically, they're with their kids, I'm with mine. Not so much of the can-I-take-a-picture stuff."
Mickelson said he and his son hit many of the resort's rides, though Evan was too short to go on some of the rougher fare, like the Incredible Hulk. Fear didn't enter into it at all. His son went on a 150 mph roller-coaster in Dubai once and didn't blink, Mickelson said.
"He was right there in the front car, with his goggles on, loving it," Mickelson said.
A Mickelson who's an adrenaline junkie? Naw, impossible.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 6:54 pm
DORAL, Fla. -- It goes by many names.
A smother hook, a drop-kick, a quick snap, a quacking duck.
By any description, it was one of the ugliest, head-turning shots of Tiger Woods' career.
Playing his second hole of the second round at the Cadillac Championship on Friday, Woods lunged so far off the ball at impact that he took a divot in the tee box and hit a snapping hook than got perhaps 10 feet off the ground and barely traveled 50 yards in the air.
It fast dived dead left into the rough and stopped just a few yards past the end of the main tee box -- and well short of the women's tee. Though the PGA Tour's laser tracking system estimated the drive at 120 yards, the measurement was taken by a device situated at least 150 yards away. In actuality, it likely didn't crack triple figures.
"It's not the first time I've hit a snipe," said Woods, who shot 2-over 74 and none too happy that the shot was brought up after the round. "I've done it at the Masters. It is what it is."
His playing partners stared at each other, wordlessly. Mickelson was next on the tee to hit.
"It was difficult following that," Lefty said, smirking. "But it's really not for me to talk about anybody's bad drives."
True enough, given his occasionally scattershot dispersal patterns over the years. Graeme McDowell, world No. 4 and the third member of the high-powered trio, had no such hesitation in discussing the shot. Moreover, the duck hook was hardly the lone squirrelly miss that Woods produced -- he badly popped up a 3-wood shot in the 14th hole that went 102 yards shorter than McDowell's 290-yard drive. He angrily slammed the club into the turf.
"Yeah, it's pretty tough not to have a giggle," McDowell said. "We all hit bad shots -- hit a couple of those in my time. You know, Tiger actually hit two tee shots today, that I would say, combined, didn't go further than 200 yards.
"He hit that snap hook off No. 2, which didn't go further than 85 yards, and he hit a pop up fly to midfield on 14, which probably wasn't about 120, max.
"So a couple interesting ones ... The guy is working on his golf swing and working hard on things and every now and again you have a few weird ones in there."
Posted on: March 11, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 6:20 pm
DORAL, Fla. -- As everybody knows by now, Phil Mickelson has a pretty acute sense of humor, so the self-deprecation he offered on the eighth hole on Friday was no real surprise.
Wandering in the fairway, he spotted Golf Channel analyst Roger Maltbie and exchanged greetings. Asked how he was doing, Mickelson smirked.
"Just trying to get as little out of my round as possible," Mickelson said.
In that regard, Mickelson and heavyweight playing companions Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell were succeeding wildly in the second round of the Cadillac Championship on Friday.
"We dragged each other down a little bit today," McDowell said. "I didn't hit very many fairways. Tiger didn't hit very many fairways. Phil missed a few.
"We started off with a beautiful crowd the front nine holes and wasn't surprised to see it dwindle in the back nine. I think they got it a little bored with us, perhaps."
By the time the trio made the turn, they all were nine or more strokes off the lead. Worse, it took a stultifying 2:33 minutes to play the front nine. Of course, when nobody's making many birdies, it taked a little longer. Ranked Nos. 4-5-6 in the world, they clearly played like the B Team.
Mickelson finished with a 71, McDowell shot 73 and Woods skidded in with a 74.
On the fourth hole, a loud male fan turned up wearing a red T-shirt that read: "Tiger Woods, 71 wins, 14 majors, Enough Said." He could also have added, "three bogeys," which is what Woods had totalled over his wildly uneven first five holes, mixed with two birdies.
In one of the most anticipated groupings of the year -- Woods and Mickelson have rarely been paired in the first two rounds over the years -- none of the three was under par through 10 holes.
The trio has 19 majors between them, including two recorded in 2010.
Posted on: March 8, 2011 1:37 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 1:40 pm
DORAL, Fla. -- Six years ago, they staged the most memorable head-to-head shootout of their careers at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa.
This time, they will butt heads for 36 holes, at minimum.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were paired together in the first two rounds of the Cadillac Championship, which begins Thursday at the gamed TPC Blue Monster.
It marks only the seventh time the two have been paired in the first round.
PGA Tour officials, who this season have begun gerrymandering groupings to increase attention and eyeballs, this week paired players according to their world ranking.
For instance, Nos. 1-2-3, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald also will play together in the first two days at the World Golf Championships event, which has a 69-player field.
Woods and Mickelson, Nos. 5 and 6, will be joined by No. 4 Graeme McDowell.
At the 2005 Doral event, played before a massive crowd and at a fever pitch, Woods held off Mickelson by a stroke after Lefty barely missing a chip-in on the last hole to tie.
Amazingly, because the two are almost always sent off in opposite sides of the draw sheet for television purposes, they have been paired only 26 times over the years and Mickelson of late has put a huge dent on Woods' early nose-to-nose dominance. Each player has beaten the other 11 times, with Mickelson holding a 5-1-1 mark as far as shooting the lowest score in their last seven pairings.
For those curious about Mickelson's stark turnaround, read this: http://www.cbssports.com/golf/story
Year Event Rnd Phil Woods
Posted on: September 9, 2010 7:01 pm
LEMONT, Ill. – For the second time in as many weeks, Tiger Woods is facing the prospect that an unhappy beginning will be keeping him from a satisfactory ending.
The defending champion started slowly and fired a 2-over 73 in the first round of the BMW Championship on Thursday and greatly damaged his chances of advancing to the finale of the FedEx Cup finale in Atlanta in two weeks.
It was Woods’ worst score at Cog Hill since shooting 73 in the first round of the 2005 tournament, and represented his second-worst score here as a professional on a track where he has won five times.
Last week outside Boston, Woods was 4 over through his first six holes and rallied to finish T11 after firing three straight sub-70 rounds for the first time all year. He might need a similar resuscitation effort this week after dropping into T45.
He opened his round Thursday with a double-bogey on the first hole and was 3 over through his first six holes. According to PGA Tour projections, Woods can’t finish worse than T5 this week if he hopes to advance to the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta on Sept. 23-26.
Woods, who managed to find five fairways and 10 greens in regulation, hasn’t had a top-five finish since the U.S. Open in June. There are 34 players ahead of him and he is six shots out of a T4 and five shots out of T6.
“As of right now I'm only five shots back out of that spot,” he said of advancing. “That's not bad. Guys aren't going low at this place because the greens aren't good enough to go low. Obviously there's a couple of players that have played well today, but overall the guys just aren't tearing the place apart.”
World No. 2 Phil Mickelson didn’t muster much of a charge, either. He finished 1-over on the lengthy, punitive course that was redesigned by Rees Jones before last year’s event. Mickelson, at 14th place in FedEx points, isn’t mathematically assured of a spot in the Atlanta field, but it’s pretty close to a certainty that he will advance.
When he didn't offer any elaboration, he was asked whether it’s more difficult to perform well on a course he doesn’t enjoy. Mickelson gave a one-word answer: “Yes.”
As for the back story, Mickelson hasn’t won at Torrey Pines, a course where he enjoyed spectacular early success, since Jones redesigned it in 2002.
Players were especially critical of the state of the greens at Cog Hill, which were hammered by a hot summer and might be the worst surfaces players have seen all year. Tim Clark said it looked like they had staged a “shotput contest” on the greens, they were so pitted.
Clark’s playing partner, Paul Casey, cracked to XM Radio, “Two things you don’t want to hear as a player, Rees Jones and Sub-air.”
Greens were slow, choppy and bumpy, which is hardly conducive to low scores, the 7-under 64 of leader Matt Kuchar notwithstanding.
“I had a hard time getting the speed,” Woods said. “I had a hard time hitting the putts hard enough, I really did. I putt a lot on memory, obviously, and it's hard to make myself hit the putts this hard when I know how they used to putt.”