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Grouchy Golf Blog

Sunday, April 22, 2007 at 11:42 AM

Butch Harmon is Phil Mickelson's Coach. Oh, Sweet Revenge!

"Oldboy," a movie directed by Chan-wook Park, is one of my favorite movies of all-time. The second movie of a revenge-themed trilogy, "Oldboy" is a brilliant tale of the tragic consequences from revenge breeding upon itself. In other words, revenge begets revenge which begets even more revenge, so on and so forth.

If Mr. Park decides to make another revenge flick, he can simply base it on the recent pairing of Butch Harmon with Phil Mickelson. According to the Kojak of Golf, Tim Rosaforte, "...sources have told Golf World the Mickelson-Harmon alliance will be made official before the EDS Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas." While the coaching change is meant to fix Mickelson's wayward driver, it also satisfies the thirst for revenge.

Here is a short summary of the vengeance undertones found in golf's newest coaching relationship:
But the story may not stop here. Of all the coaches that Mickelson could have chosen, he couldn't have picked one that would have irked Rick Smith more than Butch Harmon. They like each other about as much as Kobe and Shaq. Interestingly, Rick Smith could exact revenge against both his former pupil and his coaching arch-nemesis by teaming up with Tiger. Such a scenario would also enable Tiger to exact revenge on his former coach and his top rival. It sounds almost too good to be true, but with rumors circulating that Tiger may now be unhappy with his swing under Haney's tutelage, don't count it out!

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. But one thing is clear, the proverb "revenge is a dish best served cold" still holds true.


Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 9:42 PM

Dave Pelz Was Wrong for Once

First, thanks to Tiger on the unbelievable clinic he gave at the Windy City. It's just another example of how Tiger-proofing courses only makes it easier for Tiger to win. Now, back to the regularly scheduled program...

Dave Pelz, the well-known short-game authority and mad scientist of golf, is one golf instructor that I respect tremendously. As a former NASA engineer, Pelz supports his teachings with solid scientific research. It's not uncommon for him to have reams of data to back up his findings. For example, Pelz provided the statistical data that proves that putts rolled at a speed to exactly 17 inches beyond the hole have a higher probability rate of going in than putts hit at any other speed. He also conducted experiments that answered the age-old question, "?" When Pelz says something about golf, you might as well just accept it as fact.

That is, until last week. Uncharacteristicly, Pelz went on the record to make several totally unscientific claims:
"When Phil's at his best, I'm thinking nobody can beat him."

[And that includes Tiger Woods?]

"You bet it does," Pelz said. "If Phil's long swing is good, his short game, I believe, is the best in the world. He doesn't have a serious weakness inside 150 yards.

"I'm not saying Tiger's short game is bad. He has a great short game. But I think Phil putts more consistently than Tiger does. He has more imagination and a few more shots around the green."
What you talkin' about Willis?

There's no doubt that Phil Mickelson is one of the best golfers of his generation. But he happens to be in the same generation as the best golfer ever. To make such obviously biased and subjective statements is quite surprising for Pelz, especially his assertion that "Phil putts more consistently than Tiger does." Ever since Phil turned pro in 1992 he's been touted as a "great putter". But I've always thought that he was overrated in this area. Over the years, I don't think that I've seen a "great putter" miss as many 3-footers as Phil. I've even seen Phil 3-putt from about 10 feet. Tiger, on the other hand, just doesn't seem to miss a putt when it really matters. In fact, according to Shotlink, Tiger hasn't missed a putt inside 4 feet this season! If I needed someone to make a putt to save my life, there's no question that I would choose Tiger over Phil.

Regardless, why the heck would Pelz make such ludicrous comments? Did he put an ounce of thought into it? Was it an over-exposure to the noxious fumes emanating from his golf laboratory? Whatever the reason, all it did was to agitate an already fired up Tiger Woods to crush Pelz's chubby student with the phony grin. Like Michael Jordan, Tiger makes it a point to ruthlessly annihilate those who "diss" him.

Mr. Pelz, for your well-established reputation's sake, retreat back to your lab and stick to your test tubes and bunsen burners. And if there's room, take Stephen Ames with you.

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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.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005 at 9:04 PM

Everybody Loves Ernie Els

All the top pro golfers have their fair share of fans. However, most also have a healthy number of detractors.

Take Tiger and Phil, for example. Both deserve the respect of all golf fans for their golf achievements. In addition, each has legions of fans that love them for more than just their golfing abilities. Each has very different on-course personas that resonate strongly with their respective fans. However, the very things that people find appealing about these golfers are the same things that some people find objectionable.

Phil always projects a wholesome and care-free image on the golf course that the "Phil Phanatics" just eat up. Phil has become the modern-day Ward Cleaver to many casual golf fans. However, some believe that Phil is simply putting on a show whenever he's on camera or in the public eye to maintain and maximize his endorsement dollars. In other words, Phil is smiling all the way to the bank. If you're a fan of Larry David's HBO comedy series, Curb Your Enthusiasm, you could guess what the F-bomb dropping, foul-mouthed Susie Greene might say about Mickelson: "That Phil is one phake phat phony phuck!"

On the other hand, many fans love Tiger because he is a fiery competitor who puts it all out on the golf course. Much like Michael Jordan, he is intensely focused and never, ever quits. Tiger wears his emotion on his sleeves, good and bad. However, some find some of Tiger's behavior boorish and ungentlemanly, especially for the staid game of golf.

As a serious, but unaccomplished golfer, I am much more of a fan of Tiger than Phil. I appreciate Tiger's super-human golf ability and his ultra-competitive zeal. It's refreshing to see him upset over a bad shot as much as he celebrates a miraculous one. Anyone who plays golf knows that it is the most maddening game in the world, so it's somewhat comforting to see that the best player in the world shares our pain. In short, I find Tiger to be much more genuine than Phil.

Australian golfer Paul Gow has echoed similar sentiments when he said, "What you see on television is totally different to what he (Phil Mickelson) is around the clubhouse. Tiger (Woods) is the opposite: he will talk to you, he will sit down next to you at lunch and ask about your family and stuff. Phil is the opposite…He has done some great acting classes in Hollywood and they have worked out for him."

While it is clear that many people are not fond of Tiger and Phil, there is one golfer who everybody seems to love - Ernie Els. His peers love him, golf fans love him, and even grouchy people love him. His large frame and laid-back personality and smooth-flowing golf swing has rightfully earned him the nickname, "The Big Easy." Ernie is a big asset to golf, and his recent season-ending ACL injury was a tremendous loss. This year's PGA Championship was the first major since 1993 that Ernie has not played. He could have easily been the difference-maker at this year's evenly-played President's Cup. These great golf events would have been even better had Ernie been available to play. The good news is that Golfweek is reporting that Ernie will tee it up again as soon as this December. Oh, the miracle of arthroscopic knee surgery! Get well soon Double-E!

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Thursday, March 10, 2005 at 12:05 AM

Wipe That Stupid Grin Off Your Face!

A clash of opposites concluded the Ford Championship at Doral last weekend. Many saw it simply as Tiger vs. Phil. But it was also vs. White, Buick vs. Ford, Nike vs. Callaway, and Batman vs. the Joker.

Batman vs. the Joker? Let me explain. I happened to watch the Batman DVD over the weekend and noticed some striking parallels to Phil and Tiger. In the movie, the Joker's face becomes disfigured in an accident. A plastic surgeon tries to reconstruct the Joker's face, but his hack job leaves the Joker with a permanent smile. No matter what the circumstance, the Joker is always beaming a disturbingly wide grin, 24/7. In this way, Phil is just like the Joker. When Phil hits a great shot, he smiles. When Phil hits a bad shot, he smiles. When Phil lost his lead to Tiger on the 17th hole, guess what? He smiled.

I tried to like Phil, I really did. But it's just not natural to smile that much, especially when something bad happens to you. Can you imagine if someone on your soccer team smiled every time your opponent scored a goal? You'd be infuriated. That's how I felt the few times that I tried to root for Phil. I wanted to shake him and say, "you're losing the golf tournament and all you can do is stand there and smile like an idiot?! Don't you care?"

I suspect that Phil's smiling problem is his attempt to mask his true feelings and personality rather than a Joan River's procedure gone awry. While I don't think much of Vijay Singh, I do agree with him regarding Phil. "Is that the true Phil?" Singh said when he was asked to compare his image to Mickelson's by Bryant Gumbel on HBO's Real Sports. "Is that the true person? Do you see the true side of Phil? I don't know. I cannot speak for Phil. But you see the true me. I don't hide things." I prefer to root for someone who wears his emotion on his sleeve. Someone who gets angry or at least more determined when losing. Call me crazy, but I just want to cheer for the person that appears to have the same desire to win that I would.

When I read about Mickelson's lack of motivation at last year's Ryder Cup, he lost me completely. "I attribute my performance (in the Ryder Cup) to motivation," he said. "I wasn't willing to put in enough work to play good golf." Representing your country alone should provide ample motivation in my book. I wonder how the countless number of troops deployed around the world that are risking their lives so that individuals such as Mr. Mickelson could be free to make a grandiose living playing golf would feel about his sentiments. It will always be a mystery to me why so many people love Phil. At least Skip Bayless of ESPN doesn't.

Oh, and how is Tiger like Batman? Like Batman, Tiger usually wins.

P.S. It turns out that Phil's peers on the PGA Tour have nicknamed him "". How appropriate!


Monday, September 13, 2004 at 11:00 AM

Phil Mickelson and the Dark Side of Golf

If you're a loyal reader of this golf blog (that's you mom), you'll know that I've never been a fan of . Nor have I been a fan of .

So it's only appropriate that the two have joined forces. Word going around is that Mick tried to renege on his multi-year contract with The Acushnet Co. (parent of Titleist, FootJoy, etc.) just like David Duval did in 2001. Phil demanded more money based on his success this year with his first major win. Instead of feeling indebted to the company that developed the tools to produce his first major win, Mick felt that Acushnet owed him.

So Mr. B-Cups bailed out on Acushnet and promptly inked a much more lucrative contract with Callaway. Rumors estimate that Callaway will pay Phil somewhere between $3 - $6 million more per year than the Acushnet deal. My old math teacher always used to say, "greed is a sickness" and it seems that Mick has come down with a very big case of it. However, Phil would rather have you believe that he signed with Callaway for their equipment. In a press release, Phil proclaimed "to help me achieve my ultimate goal of becoming the No. 1 player in the world, I felt it was necessary to switch to the exciting new driver and golf ball technology from Callaway Golf."

It's clearly evident that Darth Mick has now fully embraced the Dark side.
Is this the final act of Phil's long pattern of self-absorption and idiocy? Not a chance. Look for Phil to resume his climb from #3 to the top of ESPN's "Worst Choke Artists." I think that it would only be fair that Callaway reneges on Phil when his game tanks. Somehow I think that will happen sooner than later.

But kudos to Acushnet for taking a stand and not succumbing to another money grubber's demands. Acushnet has a long reputation for its commitment to produce the highest quality golf equipment from head to toe. By rebuffing Phil, Acushnet sends a message that no golfer is larger than the company or its products. On the other hand, Acushnet is known for its generosity. When news surfaced that Moe Norman, the legendary ball-striker, teetered on the brink of financial ruin, Acushnet stepped in and offered Moe a $5,000 monthly stipend for the rest of his life. But what did Moe have to do in return? Nothing, it was a thank-you gift for his prior accomplishments. Sadly, Moe passed earlier this month, but I'm sure that his last years were more comfortable than otherwise thanks to Acushnet. I have always been a huge fan of Acushnet, but never more so than now.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004 at 4:33 PM

Burgers, Phil, and Golf

Phil sure does love those In-N-Out burgers.

While I'm only temporarily sick of In-N-Out (I work within a block away from one), it seems that I'll always be sick of Phil "Meek"elson. In particular, I'm sick of his stupid expressions on the course.

I mean he always looks like some clueless guy that they pulled out of the gallery who was suddenly annointed golf super powers. I can see how the first time it can be considered somewhat endearing (still stretching it). But, for chissakes, when he still acts the same way after several hundred tournaments it's downright annoying.

The final round of the 2004 Masters drove me nuts, as you can imagine. But I took guilty pleasure that lost the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock on the 17th Hole in typical Phil-choke-fashion. However, not even that monumental calamity could wipe that stupid smirk off his face! What on earth will it take?

Somehow I'm sure that if the world was ablaze on its way to Hell, "Mick the Choke" will be smiling the whole way...