Category: Phil Mickelson

The PGA Championship-Phil Mickelson

PGA Championship, Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort SC

Congrats, Phil!

Watching Phil Mickelson stroll up the 18th hole at Kiawah Island with a two-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen was almost surreal. I think many of us “Phil fanatics” kept pinching ourselves during those final moments thinking it was a dream. The idea of Phil, at fifty plus, holding off the imposing figure of Brooks Koepka to win the PGA Championship, seemed like an impossibility. Like Ali when he fought George Forman—there would be flashes of brilliance and plenty of determination, but sooner or later the big one would land. I kept thinking about the 2014 PGA Championship, 2015 Masters, and 2016 Open Championships where Phil fought his heart out, put up strong performances with great thrills, but ultimately came up just short. Not this time though, as Phil found an even deeper level of resolve to deliver a historic win for the ages, just as Mohamed Ali did back in 1974. It was a remarkable day, and most certainly the high point of Phil’s fantastic career. And do we dare get our hopes up for that elusive U.S. Open title? You bet we do!

Phil’s Fanatics 

Early in his career, Phil Mickelson garnered the nickname “Phil the Thrill” because he had a seemingly endless number of shots in his arsenal, and was willing pull them out of his bag at any time, regardless of risk, almost always with unlikely and eye-popping success. Since he broke out on tour in 1991, and won the Northern Telecom Open as an Amateur, everyone knew that this young lefty was going to provide us with a ton of excitement. Phil immediately captured the hearts of golf fans with his fan friendly, warm persona, along with his aggressive style of play. That style of play cost Phil quite a few tournaments, including a number of major championships, but that just endeared him to the golfing public even more. Eventually Phil’s following of loyalists became known as the “Phil fanatics.” No matter how poorly Phil might be playing, these fans never left his side. Well, the Phil fanatics were out in full force for Lefty last week at the PGA Championship. They cheered and hollered for him all week, and assembled around the 18th green to share the moment with their hero. Not since Arnie’s Army has a player generated that kind of love and excitement from golf fans—and richly deserved.

The Thrills Keep Coming

Phil’s last major victory came all the way back at the 2013 Open Championship, and there have been a number of highs and lows since then. A dry spell in 2014 and 2015 saw Mickelson drop his longtime swing coach, Butch Harman, and hire Andrew Getson. Getson revitalized Phil’s game, and their partnership resulted in 6 top 5 finishes in the 2016 season, including 3 runner-up’s—but unfortunately no victories. 2017 proved to be another winless season for Phil, now 47 years old with many believing that his days of winning on tour were behind him. But lo and behold, Phil reached into his bag of magic and surprised us all by winning the WGC Mexico Championship in 2018. It was an unbelievable victory, as he took down Justin Thomas in a thrilling playoff and proved that Lefty was not done quite yet. And then in 2019, Phil won again, capturing his fifth AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, only to struggle for the remainder of the year, failing to record a single top ten. The 2020 season proved to be another disappointment for Lefty, with only two top 5 finishes in the shortened season. And going into the PGA Championship this year, Phil hadn’t placed among the top 20 in a single event, most recently a disastrous finish at the Wells Fargo where he opened with a 64, only to follow that up with a 75 and a pair of 76’s. While most of the golf world viewed it as yet another sign that Phil was done, his fanatics (and most importantly Phil himself), saw only the brilliant 64, and continued to believe. Well, he’s done it again—shocking the world when everybody counted him out. Congratulations Phil, this was truly an epic performance. You can bet that Phil’s faithful flock will have swelled to record numbers for the Open at Torrey Pines next month, and win or lose, you know he will be giving it everything he’s got. A seventh major? Don’t count him out.  

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Lefty makes Champions Tour Debut

Phil Mickelson Champions Tour Debut, Ozarks National MO

There’s some big news this week–Phil Mickelson has officially made his Champions Tour debut! Phil became eligible when he turned 50 back in June, but decided to maintain his regular tour schedule until now. Although he has not played to the high standard he expects of himself lately, Phil has certainly been competitive on the regular tour with two top 5 finishes this season, and feels that if he can stay healthy there’s no reason he shouldn’t stick around and add a few more to the 44 tour wins he’s already racked up. Lefty is unique in that not only has he been able to maintain his distance off the tee, he’s actually hitting it longer than ever (he calls it “dropping bombs”.) Unfortunately, the additional distance has thus far not produced the result he’s been looking for, as Mickelson’s PGA Tour season ended last week with missed cut at the Northern Trust (a few too many wayward bombs and not enough makeable putts finding the bottom of the hole). The good news is that now we get to see Phil tee it up with old foes like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Freddie Couples and Retief Goosen (who can all still get it out there pretty good). And what does Phil do right out of the box at the Charles Schwab Series Tournament at Ozarks National? He fires a 61 in the first round and follows that up with a 64 in the second round for 4 shot lead. Mickelson’s presence will provide a huge boost to the Champions Tour, which already boasted a group of legendary stars including John Daly, Steve Sticker, Colin Montgomery, and of course the ageless two-time Masters champ—Bernhard Langer.

Get the course details at GolfDay.

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Tiger/Manning vs. Phil/Brady

Golf fundraising event to benefit COVID19 relief

Who are the players?

For all the avid golf fans who are down in the dumps about the PGA Tour events that have been cancelled in the past few months, there’s some really good news. It has just been announced that Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning will be teeing it up for a team match in May. The event is to take place on Memorial Day weekend in Florida, and will be pitting Woods and Manning against Mickelson and Brady, with the proceeds going to COVID-19 relief. Woods and Manning are already considered the betting favorites since Manning is a 6 handicap and Brady is an 8. Of course, we should not speak too soon, considering the rumors that Tiger’s back issues were flaring up again earlier this year (although Tiger insists that he is healthy) and Phil seems to thrive in these relaxed match-play settings, winning big chunks of change from other pros during practice rounds. Keep in mind too that Tom Brady is a 6-time Super Bowl champion, so there is no doubt he will bring some of that competitive, winning spirit to the match.

What can we expect?

The format has yet to be announced, but there has been some chatter about it being best ball—we’ll have to wait and see. Unlike the previous match between Woods and Mickelson back in 2018, which was a PPV event, this one will be broadcast live on regular television (TNT) so everybody will have the opportunity to watch 4 legends battle it out on the course. The players will practice social distancing throughout the event, and no spectators will be allowed to attend. No word on whether they will be masked, but doubtful since there is no reason to get that close on the golf course. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a truly exciting match. And with no golf to watch for a month and a half, could there possibly be a better way to bring back golf than a match between Phil and Tiger—not to mention the fun of seeing Tom Brady and Peyton Manning duke it out. What can we expect? I think it’s safe to say it will be a hard-fought battle, considering none of the 4 has a reputation for losing—particularly on a big stage. Tiger may have some extra incentive to even the score after his loss to Phil in 2018, but you can be sure that nothing would make Phil happier than beating Tiger again (outside of a U.S. open win in the fall perhaps). Like Woods and Mickelson, Brady and Manning were long-time rivals at the top of their game. While this match-up won’t take place on the gridiron, you can certainly expect to see some of the fire that propelled them both to super bowl victories. Personally, my money is on Mickelson and Brady. Either way, it’s exactly what we need to take our minds away from the troubles of the last few months, remind us that it won’t last forever, and there will be good days ahead. Something tells me that this is going to be special, so make sure you mark your calendar.

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