by Jeff Skinner
According to Jim McCabe of Golf Week, the place to be on Sunday was the right side of the fairway on eleven.
First, a wild drive by Tiger Woods struck a patron and the ball nearly fell into a small bag that belonged to Michael Thompson, who was doing score reporting.
The man who got hit received a ball from Woods’ caddie, Steve Williams, then wandered away.
Minutes later, with Woods having played two recovery shots, that man walked back to the same spot. This time, it was a Mickelson hook that came crashing into the trees and sure enough it hit a guy who was standing right next to the guy who had been hit by Woods’ ball.
That man received a little more for his troubles. Mickelson came over and personally made sure all was well, then he signed a glove.
And what did the man say?
Mickelson shrugged his big shoulders.
When Phil was kicking around the pine straw on thirteen on Sunday, I was screaming for him to lay up. I wasn’t the only one. His own brother thought he’d lay up too. The fact that he went for it is what makes Phil, Phil. John Strege in Golf Digest has Tim Mickelson’s thoughts on the shot.
“Once I saw the lie, I assumed he’d lay up and I started walking down the fairway,” said Tim, who plays to a plus-3.2 handicap at the Farms in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. “When I walked by the shot, from outside the ropes, obviously, I actually thought that if he were to go for it he’d go right of the tree, not left of the tree. That’s the first thing that surprised me. Then there were the circumstance. With a two-shot lead, I thought he’d lay up and try to make birdie that way.”
Tim was walking with T.R. Reinman, Mickelson’s public relations man, whose own observation was that Phil was perfectly stymied.
Then came the shot, a 6-iron that landed softly, four feet from the hole, resulting in a tap-in birdie en route to a three-shot victory. “Shows how much you know,” Tim said kiddingly to Reinman.
“He does it all the time,” Tim said of Phil’s go-for-it approach. “I would say there’s always a calculated risk. If there’s no chance, he’s not going to do it, but if there’s a way for it to be done he’ll try it. He’s more willing than most pros to attempt the shot.”
Okay, ready for this one…Phil actually broke his driver the week before The Masters. Going into the biggest tournament of the year Phil had a dilemma: try one of his other standbys or have the mad scientists at Callaway try and work their magic. They tried something they never had done to repair the club. The result gave Phil his third green jacket. David Dusek has the story on Golf.com.
Phil Mickelson cracked the crown of his Callaway FT-9 Authentic driver at the Shell Houston Open. Like a patient in critical need of an organ transplant, the club was flown to San Diego on Easter Sunday, where it was met at the airport by the head of Callaway’s R&D team, Dr. Alan Hocknell.
According to Callaway, the company, “performed an ‘unprecedented repair,’ removing the body from the clubface while never taking off the shaft in order to ensure that the loft and lie remained secure.”
Hocknell said, “We decided to remove the carbon composite body from the face, and we’ve never done that before, so everyone was a bit nervous. But through a lot of teamwork, we had a new body and weights installed by 1:30 p.m. on Monday.”
Meanwhile, back in Augusta, Mickelson texted Hocknell: “How bad is it, Doc? Is she gonna make it?”
Needless to say, the patient made a full recovery, was flown back cross-country, and helped Mickelson win his third green jacket. For the week, Phil hit 60% of the fairways and averaged 297 yards per drive.
One of my favorite sights at The Masters was Tom Watson and his son walking the hills of Augusta as player and caddy. It brought back memories of Jack Nicklaus and his son doing the same thing during Jack’s incredible 1986 win. It didn’t work out like Jack’s but now Watson senior and junior will get another chance to pull the father/son win. Tom Watson will be returning to the scene of one of his most historic wins as he will be playing in the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach. Watson dropped his chip shot in on seventeen to steal the win from Nicklaus. Maybe Tom will give his son the same thrill Jack did way back when.