by Jeff Skinner
This has turned into a special weekend on the PGA Tour. Fan favorite, Phil Mickelson has managed to keep his hot streak going at The Northern Trust Open and shares the lead with his young protégé, Keegan Bradley. This has to be a special Sunday for both of them.
Phil Mickelson has a habit of taking young players under his wing to show them the ins and outs of the tour. Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley are two of Phil’s recent projects and both have benefitted from Mickelson’s guidance.
Phil brought Bradley into his practice round “money games” early last season to get Bradley used to playing under a little pressure. As Lee Trevino used to say pressure is playing for a hundred dollars when you only have five bucks in your pocket. Phil’s mentoring has worked wonders for Bradley as we saw last season when he claimed the PGA Championship and the Byron Nelson.
The two have grown close as they share the same management company and Bradley even gave Phil some lessons when he tried to putt with a Bradley style belly putter. Now the student will try and school his teacher as Phil tries to win back to back tournaments for the fourth time in his career. Bradley will try to show Phil that he may have taught him too well. Phil is pretty good when he has a share of the lead after 54 holes, having gone on to win 21 of 30 times.
With ten players within three shots of the lead it is bound to be an interesting Sunday. This finish may well represent one of the themes that surrounds the tour lately: young studs taking on the old regime. Bradley is one of the most gifted young players on tour with a very strong resume. But Phil is a one of the greatest golfers in history and a Hall of Famer. He’s looking for more wins and will not go softly into that good night.
Mickelson will have some fun today playing with Bradley and Bradley will enjoy his day. These are two guys that appreciate where they are in life. But when it comes down to it they will go at each other with all they have. That’s the way it should be in golf: two guys giving it their all, trying their hardest to win and respecting their opponent afterwards, win or lose. If one of these two manages to pull it off and win the other will be right there to congratulate him. And that’s just how these two were taught.