by Jeff Skinner
OK, Peter King, it’s not Monday Morning Quarterback, it’s 10 Things I Think.
1. Keegan Bradley is a very good golfer, the PGA Champion proved that last year and he is easy to like but he is pushing it. Somebody get him to a therapist to take care of that obsessive compulsive syndrome he has going on there. How many times does he have to realign the ball, or step away from his setup or spit already. It’s killing me and he just plays too slowly.
2. In a world of over the top, self absorbed, me first athletes Bill Haas is a refreshing change. He’s humble, polite and anything but in your face. Surely, coming from an historic golfing family has plenty to do with it. Masters winner Bob Goalby is his great uncle. His coach at Wake Forest is also his uncle, Jerry Haas who played on tour. And of course his dad is PGA veteran and Champions Tour great, Jay Haas. Father and son appear in those “Mentoring” commercials and it looks like it has paid off for Bill. He had a great line after his win at Riviera. When asked about all the fans cheering “Phil, Phil” Haas took it in stride,” “Honestly ‘Phil’ sounds really similar to ‘Bill,’ so you just kind of pretend that maybe they’re for you. If I’m at home, I’m cheering for Phil, too.”
3. Phil Mickelson said the setup at Riviera Country Club had a U.S. Open feel and he was right. Those pins were tucked and on a course with the bloodlines of Riviera all it needed was a little rough and Mike Davis testing the greens with the stimpmeter. Riviera is screaming for another major.
4. The best golfer in the world won again on Sunday. Yani Tseng defended her title at The Honda LPGA Thailand 2012 and is ready to repeat last season when she won seven LPGA events and has twelve worldwide victories. Right now she’s the most accomplished golfer in the world on any tour, anywhere.
5. Hindsight is 20-20 but do you think Mickelson and Bradley may be rethinking their choices off the tee on the 10th hole? Both are long enough to hit the green with three woods on the short par four but both found themselves in impossible lies after their tee balls went right. Phil even said the pin on ten was a “defensive position.” So why not hit something less to the perfect layup yardage and let that magical wedge take you in close. And Haas is lucky he finished like he did. After his opponents were in such deep trouble a layup by him may have been a wiser choice. But his putter eneded that debate.
6. Cheers to Natalie Gulbis for saying yes to that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue photo spread. More fans saw her there than at any LPGA event in history. Maybe the tour will get a little pop from the publicity. There is no doubt that Natalie spends plenty of time in the gym.
7. The air around the 72nd hole at Riviera with Phil and Keegan stalking their putts had to be electric. When Phil sank his putt pandemonium erupted but both players acknowledged each other with a knuckle bump. The same happened after Keegan dropped his. That’s sportsmanship my friend.
8. Ernie Els owes Phil a bit of thanks or something more tangible. With Phil taking this week off Els gets into the Accenture Match Play Championship. “I’ll buy Phil a steak dinner this week at some point, maybe send him a good bottle of Bordeaux or something.” The bad news is he draws world number one Luke Donald.
9. For years Sergio Garcia played the “poor me” card when his luck turned sour. He even said he thought the golf gods had it out for him. Well if you have seen Sergio lately he looks like a new man. He‘s happy and smiling and playing much better. He won twice last season in Europe and has a fifth and twelfth place finish on the Euro Tour this year. His T4 finish at Riviera is another sign good things are happening to Sergio. And he is putting like he did when he first turned pro. This could be a special year for El Nino.
10. Erik Compton may be the most inspirational story on the PGA Tour but the comeback of J.B. Holmes isn’t far behind. With brain surgery in August there was doubt whether he could return to his form as one of the longest drivers on tour. Well his T8 finish at Riviera has answered that. He is getting longer off the tee each week and now his putting and short game have come into form. He has to be feeling pretty good about how he is playing.
Bonus, 11. One thing for sure is that Phil Mickelson will always be Phil Mickelson. That is he will always “go for it” anytime he thinks he has the slightest chance of making the shot. Early in the Northern Trust Open he looked to be in control with that driver and appeared to be swinging a little smoother off the tee. Butch Harmon has been trying to get Phil to throttle back just a hair with the big dog. And it has worked for the most part. But it was his putter that hurt on Sunday, two three putts on the back nine, but Phil still knows how to thrill. He’s counting the days and licking his chops when he thinks of The Masters.