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Grouchy Golf Blog

Sunday, June 18, 2006 at 10:15 PM

FIGJAM - Ego Cost Phil Mickelson the U.S. Open

Have you ever heard of the term "FIGJAM"? Apparently, it is widely used on the PGA Tour to describe fan-favorite Phil Mickelson. FIGJAM is an acronym standing for "F#ck I'm Good, Just Ask Me." According to an article in GQ magazine, "There are a bunch of pros who think he and his whole smiley, happy face are a fraud. They think he's preening and insincere."

That's what I've thought all along. It's convenient that Phil's peers, the people who truly know him the best, have already coined a term to describe him so accurately. Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhenever I see that pompous on TV, my mind automatically superimposes a cartoon-like thought bubble next to his head filled with those words, "F#ck I'm Good, Just Ask Me." That phrase fits his expression to a tee!

But being a FIGJAM, by definition, requires a massive ego. Unfortunately, such megalomania often clouds sound decision-making. That was exactly what happened to Phil at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

Playing in front of a Phil-friendly crowd, Phil was determined to show off his golf skills at every available opportunity. Time and time again, Phil chose to dazzle rather than to play it smart. For the most part, he got away with it, flashing that FIGJAM smile whenever he did. But when you laugh in the faces of the Golf Gods, expect to be struck down.

Holding a one shot lead on the 18th tee, Mickelson only needed a par for the victory. A safe fairway wood off the tee would have been the wise choice, but that's beneath a FIGJAM. No, a FIGJAM needs to hit driver to impress. Phil sliced his drive so badly off the tee that it hit a hospitality tent and landed between the trees onto the spectator-trampled rough. Chipping back onto the fairway would have all but guaranteed a bogey and a playoff with Geoff Ogilvy, but again, that's beneath a FIGJAM. Phil just couldn't resist the temptation of bringing the house down with a miraculous 3-iron through the trees and onto the green. Only the miracle didn't happen. Phil's ill-advised 2nd shot hit a tree and dashed his hopes of winning.

"Discretion is the better part of valor" is an old expression derived from Shakespeare's King Henry the Fourth. It means that caution is preferable to rash bravery. Phil must not have paid much attention in English class because it is a lesson that he continues to ignore and this time it cost him a U.S. Open. But I don't think that he was too upset by it since he was smiling the whole time.

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Blogger woundedduck said...

I loved Johnny Miller's comment that Phil could've won with a par on 18, and didn't have to go charging down the fairway "on a white stallion." I was surprised Phil didn't heave right there on the final green--he certainly looked to be on the verge. The real tragedy of the Open was Montgomery--he tried to win by playing 18 conservatively and just fell apart. To keep your Shakespearian references going, Monty was like poor King Lear, too feeble to dig out of the hole he dug for himself. Tragedy.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whilst a little harsh (maybe)I will admit I was one of the people who whilst sat watching the debacle that was the 18th issued forth a loud (to paraphrase a Simpsons character) HA HA....

Even I (a relatively high handicapper) have learnt the basic premise of KISS (Keep it simple stupid) whilst on the course...  

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Blogger Phil Rolfe said...

I disagree with you totally, pal. It's only a game, just entertainment and think how boring it would be without the shoot for the pin and go for it attitude of Phil Mickelson. Without him and a few others we have a game of robots. And who are you to judge Phil, you don't even know him. Judge not lest ye be judged, ever heard of that? Might try it. I think the guy is great for golf and don't care whether he won or not, he played his way, like it or not.  

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Blogger JFB said...

I concur. The only thing as amazing was how the spectators acted like numbnuts by cheering his poor performance on.  

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Anonymous Tony @ thegolfspace.com said...

Could you imagine hanging out with Jack watching Phil implode yesterday? Jack must have been going crazy.

And where was Bones, Phil's caddy? Knock a 3 iron down there and a 4 iron on the green man.  

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Blogger Miranda said...

I now know what the acronym stands for. Thanks!

I am disheartened to know that the gentlemen and family men of the pga tour use that nasty language though.  

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Blogger tom said...

In the vast scheme of things, this melt-down was probably good for old smiley-face....he is weird in a way, that it's in the sand...he smiles...it's in the trees...he smiles...it's in the hole...yeah, still smiling....kind of creepy...
Hubris brought him to this point, and for his sake I hope he has learned something...I mean,not only is his wife hot and kids beautiful, but he is stinkin' rich...but humility is sometimes the best path, Phil.
Good comments....  

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Anonymous Tim said...

Phil Mickelson plays golf like George Bush wages war: with a reckless abandon that occassionally leads to success but all too often leaves him with a Winged Foot in his mouth.  

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Blogger pebbleby15 said...

Well, enough said. We now see the difference between Phil and Tiger. Phil is arrogant to a fault, but Tiger has never choked away a major.

Granted, TW missed the cut this year, but you might chalk that up to extenuating circumstances. What I love about Hefty's Hidenberg incident on 18, was that he can't go around making outlandish statements anymore - such as the one he made heading into the U.S. Open - Phil: "If Tiger is the greatest player in history, and I'm beating him regularly, what does that make me?"

Only the most foolish, arrogant, man-titted slob would claim he is better than a man who has >3x as many majors in fewer starts.  

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Blogger Scott Walker said...

Phil just can't help himself. We all talk about the new Phil...but it looks like the old Phil ate the new Phil for lunch on Sunday afternoon.

What happened in Phil's head? Let's try to get Inside The Mind of Phil Mickelson. I hope this adds some humor to the conversation.

Phil needs to understand that nobody died...and he can live to play another day. Hopefully for us Phil fans...he plays a bit differently.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for reporting the meaning of the acronym "FIGJAM". It seems very similar to "FISJAM" which means F*"k I'm smart just ask me", You know people who thionk theire opinions are so inspireed and enlightened they can criticize everyone but the person in the mirror. And so insecure that no one can post an opposing opinion without FISJAM's permission!What would you have done,oh Great FISJAM?  

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Blogger Eric said...

I'm a Phil Phan, so watching the finish to the US Open was painful. The bottom line is that Phil didn't play good enough golf to win that tournement, and it finally caught up with him on the last hole. True, he had the chance to escape with it, but had anyone else made a move he never would have been in that position.

Phil was fighting a bad round off all day long; and to be honest, the fact that he had the lead going into the last hole was a testament to the research he did before the tournement began. If he had not been as prepared he never would have stood a chance at all with the way he was hitting his tee shots.

As for the last hole, everyone here acts like making a par on 18 was a gimmie. This was the US Open, and a par is not exactly easy to come by. Look at Monty who really choked from the 18th fairway to hit double, or Furyk who missed a crucial putt at the 18th for a bogie. Ogilvy had to make a tremendous chip AND a tremendous putt to get an extremely difficult par.

Phil was playing to win the tournement instead of playing not to lose. 4-wood, long iron, par sounds good but there is no guarantee that would have happened. Phil was teeing off badly all day long. What if he had hit his 4-wood into the deep rough? He would've been too far back to in US Open rough to have a chance at the green, and a chip close to the hole is certainly no gimmie. The decision to play driver didn't anger me so much because he was trying to get himself enough distance to have a shot at the green in the event of a mishit so he could win the tournement outright.

That being said, the decision to go for it from the rough is what angered me. In my opinion, this was the bad decision that cost Phil the open and not the choice of driver off the tee. Had he merely pitched out onto the fairway he would probably have had 2 putts for a bogey and a tie, and a really good putt for a win. The decision to go for the green in two instead of taking his medicine is what cost him.

In the end, he still blew it. I just don't think it was as easy to win as people here seem to believe. If pars were so easy to come by, the winning score would not have been a +5, and everyone would be hitting fairwaywood/long iron off of every feasible tee.

Lastly, I'm not sure why people seem to like Monty over Phil. It took some time but at least Phil has won 3 majors, and he has won other big tournements on the big tour. Monty doesn't have a single major and has only racked up wins on the B tour (European Tour). He doesn't have a single win on the big tour, and is thus over-rated in my opinion. If he plays his whole career on the PGA Tour instead of in Europe, how many wins would he have? Certainly not 30. Also, remember that Monty seems to be a career choker in the majors. Phil has been beat before, but this was really the first time he beat himself.  

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Blogger pebbleby15 said...

Eric - I applaud you for the ability to speak out after such a heartbreaking ending for your boy, Phildo.

However, your logic fails when you say "gee, getting pars is not a gimmie." Or, "look at the other guys who choked."

At the end of the day your man-boobed, arrogant-beyond-comprehension idol lost his better judgment at a key moment.

Chalk it up to being a lard (I think fat people are also mentally lazy), hubris or just plain stubornness, but Hefty is and always will be a very good player, but never as great as he thinks he is.

Let's face it, he is nowhere near as good as Faldo, Watson, Hogan or Jones (not to mention Nicklaus, Woods and Hagen).

He is just a risk-seeking tub of goo who has no respect for his fellow competitors and no respect for the concept of course management.

Phil will be remembered as the guy who won a lot of FBR Opens, got his head screwed on straight for a brief period when we won three majors, ate way too many tacos and couldn't resist the temptation to manage his way around a golf course the way he manages his way around a buffet table - with complete disregard for sensible control.  

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Blogger Eric said...

I'm not trying to make excuses. I still think he blew it. I'm just saying that I think it had more to do with the decision to go for the green in two on the 72nd hole than the decision to tee off with driver.

I still stand by my comment that par is no easy task though. Just ask the 28 players who got bogey or worse on the 18th hole on Sunday. Nearly half the field.

As for choking, I still think Monty's was worse. Phil's choke was in the form of making a bad decision and not being able to execute a tough shot. Monty was in prime position for a birdie and still ended up with a double due to a big-time choke. Monty is a career choker who hasn't won a single tournement on the world's best tour. Monty's only claim to fame is a large collection of wins on a tour that the best players in the world use as a stepping stone or as a way to stay in action when there isn't anything going on in the US.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a "Lefty" fan.

However I wouldn't kick him when he is down.

More than grouchy thats just plain mean.  

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Blogger Old Flop Shot said...

When Phil removed his hat after the round on Saturday and I saw he had gone to the Al Gore hairdo - I knew he was finished!  

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Anonymous TAdams said...

Mickelfat choked. Plain and simple. And Eric, quit trying to deflect criticism away from Fat Phil to Monty. In Monty's position he thought he needed birdie and the pressure on him to make 3 was far greater than Phil, who only needed to grab a 3-wood, 9-iron and a putter for the win. In that scenario, Phil takes double out of the picture and assures himself of a win or playoff.

Phil's screwup was McAvoyish. So let us usher in a new nickname for the Philly Cheesesteak: Tin Head. Legendary ballstriking, to go along Legendary ill-decisions. It was only a matter of time before he melted down at the end of a major.

Jean Van de Velde must be smiling somewhere right now.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't generally invest my emotions in the goings-ons of professional sports athletes, so I won't comment on some of those comments here. But the facts are the facts, and here they are:

1. The 18th hole is 450 yards with a sweeping dogleg left.

2. The corner, as measured by the USGA (and found on their usopen.com website), is 282 yards from the tee.

3. In interviews a few days after, Phil's caddie, Jim Mackay, told us that Phil didn't carry a 3-wood at the Open, choosing to carry an extra wedge instead. The next club down from his driver was a 4-wood.

4. There was at least a 10 mph headwind at the time Phil was teeing off from the 18th.  

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Anonymous Love said...

I love Phil. So he over cut his drive. You never did? Had he hit it straight he'd be a hero and you'd be idolizing him.  

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Anonymous Love said...

Phil's smile is a pschology trick that works very well. In the face of intense fear you smile to trick your body and mind into thinking that you aren't about to be run over by a train. It worked well enough to get him 1 hole from 3 straight majors.  

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Blogger GolfDiscussions said...

I loved watching Phil gag almost as much as Wie doing the same thing !  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your hatred of Phil and adoration of Michelle/Tiger is disturbing. I feel that you are obsessed with golf celebrities. Let's see, Tiger won't sign an autograph, but Phil will sign a ton. Terrible guy that Mickelson is. Phil gets a lucky kick off a fan's broken watch, out comes compensation from Phil himself, insincere man indeed. I think some people just hate nice guys.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil got into position to win by playing the way he does. i have seen him many times pull off those shots. i have seen him hit it right handed with a club turned upside down. I have seen him hit it backwards, and he loves the game. A few times he has been wrong, it is not a choke, but a misshit. My wife get mad when I can get chipshots close almost every time form terrible lies, then I miss one and blow up. She tells me 95% of the time you make it, accept the other 5%, okay? Phil could have made that shot 6 out of 10 times. By the way, the way out to the fairway did have a few brachces hanging down, it was not a gimme shot.  

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Anonymous Dan said...

Phil's decision was a bad one. It happens all the time to pro's. He was confident with his driver that year. In 2004 he won the masters with a 3-wood off the tee on 18. He should've done the same. I won't speculate whether he is a fraud or insincere, because I like to think he's a cool guy. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, since I've never even been in the same room as the man. It's unfair to judge him on what we "hear" from guys on tour.  

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Anonymous dimmy102 said...


Sometime I use the term FIGITY. The last 3 letters mean I'll Tell Ya. I think that sums up some of the non achievers.
ex Australia  

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