by Jeff Skinner
This is why Phil Mickelson is such a fan favorite, be it in Europe or the States. There is never a dull moment when he has a club in his hand. A round with Phil is filled with excitement, disappointment, astonishment, dejection some more disappointment and then some more excitement. As they have said for years “What will Phil do next?”
His win at the Scottish Open is his first on a links course and his first in Great Britain. And his final round at the Castle Stuart Golf Links was a microcosm of his professional career.
After a tough start with a poor drive, a topped shot and three putts on the opening hole led to a double bogey, Phil the Thrill was in trouble. But that’s how he loves it, he loves the challenge. The deeper the hole the better, even if he has to dig it himself.
After a bird on two and a bogey on three, Phil kicked up the excitement with three straight birdies to pull himself out of his hole. Phil’s charge came with birdies on eleven, twelve and fourteen when he moved into the lead.
All he needed was a routine par on his final hole to top Branden Grace who was already in the clubhouse at -17. But Phil being Phil, three putted from fifteen feet, bogeyed the last and fell into a tie with Grace. A typical roller coaster of a day from Mickelson.
But on the first playoff hole, he steadied himself with a spinning pitch from 45 yards with his 64 degree wedge he stopped it within a foot of the hole. His shot forced Grace to hole his 25 foot putt if he was to have any hope.
After Grace missed, Phil rolled his tap in dead center for the win and ended his crazy adventure with a very memorable win. ”Nobody likes a movie that is predictable,” said Mickelson, who loves the pressure, self-inflicted or not. ”You always want to have a little bit of suspense.”
”I don’t think there’s a better way to get ready for a major championship or an Open championship than playing the week before, playing well the week before and getting into contention. And coming out on top just gives me more confidence.”
This is the essence of Phil Mickelson: it is the challenge, not just of winning or beating his contemporaries, but of each and every shot. Phil never backs off, it’s not in his nature and when he does, it comes back to bite him.
He prefers to go for every shot. Some he makes, some he misses but he still relishes the opportunity to make that shot.
He’s Tin Cup with more skill. Roy McAvoy has nothing on Phil. He’s Arnold Palmer from the left side. He’s Phil the Thrill who,like McAvoy, “always goes for it.”
And that’s why he’s so beloved here, in Europe and everywhere he plays.
He’ll get his chance at the Claret Jug this week at Muirfield. And you can bet he’ll go for it on every shot.