Sunday, June 18, 2006

Phil Mickelson ruins US Open bid on the final hole

Oh, Phil!

From most perspectives, it looked like you had the US Open all sewn up. With three holes to go, you were up by two shots. You kept on missing fairways, but you managed to make miraculous shots to save par. You also had the New York crowd solidly in your favour. For a Californian, Phil-mania must have given you a boost in the other side of the US.

On the final hole, you only needed a par to win. So, what do you do? You whip out your driver and hit the ball so far left that it bounces off of the roof of the massive white hospitality tent. Why didn't you just take it easy and hit a couple of long irons into the green, in order to protect your lead? Or, at least drive with a fairway wood.

Your first shot near the hospitality tent hit a tree and gave you an advance of only a 25 yards. Instead of playing it smart, you went for the near-impossible shot. Why!! Your second shot from near the hospitality tent buried your ball in the sand, forcing a difficult shot that rolled across the green and into the fringe. Your final shot to tie missed from the fringe.

If you had to play it all over again, I bet you would have taken fewer chances and given yourself more opportunity to win rather than play so darn risky. As brilliant a golfer as you are, you need to try playing smarter when the stakes are so high. If it was just a fun round, I can see taking chances. I do it all the time, but this was the most difficult golf tournament in the world, on one of the toughest courses ever.

This tournament was notable because, of course, Tiger Woods missed the cut, his first missed cut in an major tournament in almost a decade. People have commented about they worry about Tiger's tee shots with the driver. He gets into so much trouble, with so many missed fairways. You can only go so far by not hitting most fairways. For me, a bad drive usually spells bogey or worse. I don't have the talent to consistently recover and save par. When will Tiger realize his weakness and make a change in his approach to the driver?

Mamaroneck, New York's Winged Foot Golf Club is an exclusive and elusive course.

Congratulations to 29 year-old Australian Geoff Ogilvy for his first major victory, at 5 shots over par. For sure, this US Open will be remembered by all the contenders who collapsed, most notably, unfortunately, Phil Mickelson.

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