Phil Mickelson, Always High Risk

by Jeff Skinner

It was a familiar scene; we’ve seen it before the last time in 2010.  A smiling Phil Mickelson walks off the eighteenth green at Augusta National to the waiting arms of his wife Amy.  The three kids are there all getting older, all dressed in angelic white waiting to congratulate their dad.  Only this year it’s “sorry dad” and “next year dad.”  There won’t be any trip through Krispy Kreme with dad wearing his green jacket this year.  Phil came up short in his quest for his fourth Masters title.

After a tough start in the first round Mickelson had positioned himself in good shape for a run on Sunday.  He was where he always wants to be on Masters Sunday, in the final pairing.  He was one stroke back of Peter Hanson and poised to make one of his patented charges.   All he needed to do was to get through the first nine without any big numbers.  He had already had his big number for the week on Thursday with a triple on the tenth hole.  Get to the back nine so he can work his magic over those holes he knows so well was his plan.

Only a funny thing happened on his way to Butler Cabin.  At the par three fourth hole Phil sliced his tee shot so far left it ricocheted off the railing of the grandstands and rolled into some thick bushes.  Phil had no stance for a normal shot and elected to hit a right handed shot with a backwards wedge.  It didn’t work the first time and it didn’t work the second time either.  By the time he holed out for another triple bogey his hopes for another Masters were gone.

Phil’s play at the fourth hole while confusing is really why he is such a fan favorite.  When faced with an impossible shot or a choice between a low risk, low reward shot and a high risk, high reward shot Phil always goes for it.  He doesn’t think twice about making the impossible play.  Most times he does and the fans get rewarded but Sunday wasn’t one of those days.  On Sunday he didn’t try the impossible shot once, but twice and it failed on both occasions.  But if Phil had the same choice to make today he’d do it all again.

That’s one of the things that makes Phil….well, Phil.  He goes for it every time.  Maybe next year he’ll get back to Butler Cabin.



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