Monday, August 15, 2005 at 11:52 AM
The Golf Gods Smile on the Smile
Sunday arrived and Phil started off well. After 5 holes, Phil took sole possession of the lead at 7 under. But Phil's driver started sputtering at the 6th hole with a missed fairway that led to a bogey. His confidence shaken, Phil bogeyed the very next hole. Two more bogeys over the next 3 holes and it was clear that Phil was leaking more oil than a '71 Ford Pinto. Suddenly, about half-a-dozen were back in contention. Heck, even Tiger Woods looked like he had a chance at 2 under. The greens were firming under an oppressive August sun producing the most difficult conditions of the tournament. Birdies would be rare, pars would be welcome. Phil lost his lead to Steve Elkington and the Wannamaker was slipping away from his grasp. It was turning out to be a wild finish.
But then a not-so-surprising thing happened after Phil hit his approach shot on the 14th hole. Thunderclouds clustered above Baltusrol and suspended play. But it wasn't just a short delay. Although the PGA of America and CBS Sports officials understood the strong possibilities of afternoon thunderstorms, they did not move up the tee times to accommodate a weather delay. As a result, virtually any delay would end play for the day.
Maybe the Golf Gods got all warm and fuzzy from Phil's endorsement winning smile and intervened with a couple of lightning bolts. Whatever the reason, the suspension saved Phil's impending collapse. Phil could bolt his wheels back on and recharge his depleted stamina. The bogey train would be slowed from rain-softened greens and cooler weather. Indeed, playing conditions were much easier on Monday and Phil took advantage to win by a stroke.
Some may think that I may not be happy about Phil's 2nd major win. While it's true that he's not my favorite golfer, Phil happens to be my cash cow, literally. I had money riding on him when he won the Masters last year. Before the start of this year's PGA Championship, my bookie offered me 12-1 odds that Phil would win. I didn't think he would win, but I did like the odds. So I dropped some greenbacks on Phil. He won and so did I. He smiled and so did I. But mine was genuine.
Photo by Hunter Martin/WireImage.com
PGA - Major #2. Okay, hand it to Phil, he deserved to win. In a battle of attrition, he held on, hit the shots under pressure and now has his second major.
But, I still can't understand what it is that makes galleries and TV announcers like the guy? He is so arrogant in the press room and on the course, so disrespectful to his fellow professionals (think Ryder Cup last year), so greedy (see posting on this site re Dark Side of Phil), so fake (Vijay even called him out on those stupid grins), so stupid (the guy went to ASU, read a Stephen Hawking book on quantum physics and thinks he is Einstein) and so fat that I just don't get where all of the adoration comes from.
Why is CBS so far up Hefty's rear end? You'd think Jim Nantz was going to leap out of the 18th tower and mate with him. It just doesn't make any sense.
It's as if golf fans are pulling for the rich-slothful-arrogant-jerk as though he were the "Every man". Phatboy Phil is far from every man.
And here is the great part, the media, in another mind-blowing display of turning current news into absurd conclusions, will now conjure up a Phil-Tiger rivalry, announce that the Big Five is really the Big Two (totally throwing Singh to the wolves), and claim that Phil, with as many majors as Lee Janzen, is one of the Top 5 golfers of all time.
Hmmmm. Better turn off the TV until Augusta.
Many of the players on tour are rich and so far beyond 'everyman' status that I don't think it's fair to single out Phil in this instance. True, he does seem to have the picture perfect family, and the whole charity thing does make him seem too good to be true that it is a bit creepy.
As for the media - I've had to suffer with Tiger this and Tiger that for all these years, that I'm estatic if the media focuses on anyone else, even if it's Sean O'Hair's father. So, let CBS embrace the human interest story they've cultivated about the great Phil Mickelson who took so long to win one major and now has two. It's not like they can say "oh tiger is the world's best because he shot a 75 in the first round".
Also, the only thing I've heard from the media referring to the world rankings is that they have now reduced it to the Big 3: Tiger, Vijay and Phil. Ernie's out for almost the rest of the year and Retief hasn't made anything big happen for a while, so I can understand that.
Please don't think I'm a big Phil fan. He's ok and all, but I have commented on my own blog that his actions at the Bridges thing with regard to reading Retief's putts and expounding on his philosophical beliefs on putt reading would really get on my nerves. I can understand how people would think he's arrogant. I missed the Ryder Cup last year so I didn't see what others are referring to. As for his fake smiles, I think it's nice that he smiles so much, even when he's doing poorly. Those people in the gallery are nice enough to come out to watch him and polite enough to applaud, they deserve a polite acknowledgement of their loyalty to the tournament and the game.
Phil does need to work on a more authentic looking way of celebrating a good shot. The fist pump doesn't look natural at all when he does it :)
I don't think there really is an "everyman" on the PGA Tour. A lot of people look at John Daly as that "everyman", but the guy uses his tour earnings just to pay his taxes.
Anyway, I like Phil. Is he as good as Tiger at this point? No. Not even close. Tiger has double digit majors, and Phil has 2. BUT he had been a contender in many majors, and has now won 2 in 2 years. It is possible that it just took awhile for him to mature to this level, and I don't think it is far fetched to believe that there are more majors in his future.
I can understand why some people wouldn't like Phil. Him jumping from Titleist to Callaway for instance. But I do think that when it comes down to it, he is a good guy and he loves the game. That is why I like to see him win.
Now that Phil has 2, I'd like to see Ernie win a major next year. Maybe Ernie at the Masters and Phil in the US Open? Then Tiger at the British? That would be an entertaining year...
Awww... That would be nice.
I wish four different people could win the four majors every year and we would never know who was better, worse, choked, thrived, or gave a damn.
Ernie and Phil bug me because they seem happy to cash a check. I could care less how big their checks are or how often they cash them, I just want to know they would step on the other's throat for the win if there was no money on the line at all. The competition is what gives it drama. I want to see the guy who wants it the most win it from someone who is trying so hard to stop him that they better keep the boom-mike away if he misses.
Anyone remember the old tag-line, “The thrill of victory…the agony of defeat.” Phil suffers from no such agony, he has said as much.
Watching Lefty sweat out a win he tried to give away for two days plus a Monday wasn't exciting. Had either Bjorn or Elk made their putts, Phil lips that putt or loses in the playoff. Although no one can say for sure, even Lefty lovers all know that I'm probably not far off base. Tiger fans would have a different feeling with their guy in that situation.
I like Tiger and a number of golfers on tour that I know will make that putt. They force the issue and fight. Lefty doesn't seem overly concerned. Maybe it is the s***eating grin he flashes when he bogies a hole on Sunday that gives me that impression. Maybe, but I don't think I'm unique in sensing Phil, for all his ability, cares a little less than the rest.
Golf Grouch said...
Golf Grouch said...
I'm not searching the internet for the quotes but he has said he doesn't think his career would be failure without major wins, other things are more important, etc...
In life there are far more things than major championships, but not the Sunday of, then there are only a handful. If you have the ability to contend in a major, I don't think saying they don't matter to you as much as the other guy should endear you to fans who want to cheer for you over the other guy.
I love how when Phil wins with two atrocious rounds of golf in rounds three and four, then the press says he is now a threat against tiger (see cnnsi.com/golf).
When Tiger won the Masters, all the press could do is say how he almost let it slip away and that he wasn't as dominant as before and the swing wasn't ready for major pressure. Both won by the same margin, both birdied their last holes to win (Tiger in a playoff, Phil on 18), yet their victories are treated differently.
Can anyone explain this to me?
© Golf Grouch 2006