Archive for the ‘Phil Mickelson’ Category

He has been with us longer than Tiger now. He has played in the wake of Tiger, sometimes awash in that wake. As Tiger has made several major swing changes, Phil has essentially stuck with the same swing. It’s familiar to us, his fans. He approaches the ball like a gladiator, pulls the trigger, and whips back his flail just past parallel, and unleashes a drive that no one, no where , knows exactly where it will land. He looks apprehensively to the right or the left, as do all golfers in heaven. The very Earth tilts farther in the looking. Quakes and volcanoes trigger. Rivers flood. Fish leap. Mountains slide. Golfers spill their beer. Phil tips his cap. Earth breathes a sigh. He’s in the fairway.

Phil’s a good guy. People pull for him. People want him to win, especially lately. Phil is running out of time, and it shows.  He has some kind of arthritic condition, the name of which sounds much worse than arthritis itself. Phil has experienced a perfect storm of maladies. His wife Amy is being treated for cancer, as has Amy’s mom. One of Phil’s daughters had a seizure and spent the night in a hospital. This shouldn’t be happening to one as blessed as Phil, but Phil takes life, and golf, as it comes, with a strong dose of courage and guts and perseverance.

Phil has won four majors. He knows, we all know, it should be double that, and not just because of Tiger. Phil takes chances. Phil the Thrill, all the guys at Bennett Valley call him. A train wreck (more…)

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Arnold Palmer says no. Sir Nick says, sure, why not. Keegan Bradley won the PGA with it, the first ever major won with a long putter. Adam Scott resurrected his career with it. As did Freddy Couples. It’s easier on the back. It takes the left hand, if held still, out of the stroke completely. It creates a pendulum action on par with a grandfather clock. But should it be legal? The King is very clear on this, saying that no golf club should be anchored to the body. Anchoring the club to the body, as with the belly or long putter, creates an advantage that a free swinging putter does not have. It removes a variable that has been with golfers since the inception of the game.  To hold the butt end of the club against the body provides a stability unavailable to those using putters of usually no more than 35 inches.

It’s a matter of confidence, which is at the core of successful putting. Putting simulates the movements of a pendulum, and a golfer’s skill is dependent upon how pendulum-like he or she can control the club. If the end of the club is fixed to the torso, (more…)

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The U.S. Open is arguably the greatest tournament in golf. It is open to all comers, for one thing. If you qualify, you’re in. True, that is a daunting proposition. Even well ranked touring pros don’t make it, so if you do qualify, it’s a major accomplishment (no pun intended). Open courses are tough, set up to punish any wayward shots. Since it’s played in June, the temperatures are often hot and baked. U.S Open greens are as slick as pool tables but with ridges and breaks and false fronts. Three-putts can send the Open competitor into mental misery faster than a meter maid writing a ticket. And the whole world, seemingly, is watching.

When I was a kid I’d fantasize about playing in the Open. Those were heady days of hope when Palmer and Nicklaus were slugging it out, Kennedy was in the White House, and I was second man on my high school golf, a shy kid who could chip and putt my way to pars. Obviously I didn’t realize my Open dreams, but I’d watch the Open each year and be there vicariously. 1960: Palmer charging from seven (more…)

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I’m not much of a dancer, but when I get out on the dance floor with my wife, I depend less on technique and mostly on my rhythm to get by. My parents on the other hand were champion ballroom dancers, employing both technique and rhythm to win titles (they were fine musicians too–my mother, a great pianist and singer, and my father, a percussionist who could even find rhythm in a washboard). In golf, technique is essential, but good rhythm seals the deal. And keeping good rhythm as the round progresses is one of the hardest elements of the game to maintain. The reason it’s tough is that rhythm is affected by so many subtle things. There are the external elements like wind, heat, cold, rain, mud, and the big bomber gorilla you’re playing with. And there are the internal factors like concentration, focus, presentness, pain, and the rent check you forgot to send off. Of course good technique is vital, but without good rhythm, good technique alone won’t cut it. And with good rhythm, bad technique won’t either. For technique, see a PGA pro or buy a good app for your smart phone. For rhythm, pick the club you’re most comfortable with, (more…)

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The greatest tournament a golfer can win is, arguably, the United States Open. It’s the one everyone wants to win before their career ends. Arnie only won one. Sam Snead never won it, and was one of the things he was most known for. Nor did Davis Love III, or Fred Couples, or Colin Montgomerie, or Tom Lehman, or Phil Mickelson, or many other top tier players. It’s the golf standard of major tournaments, the Holy Grail of Golf, so to speak. Why this is so has to do with the toughness of the layout. No other tournament venue is laid out as diabolically as the U.S. Open. The fairways are as narrow as an alleyway in Boston. The rough is as long and tough as the bristles on a witches’ broom. And the greens are as slick and nasty as a back road in an ice storm. U.S. Open venues are long, brutish, and intimidating–the ultimate test of golf.

Now there have been one shot wonders, for sure. Steve Jones comes to mind.  And Michael Campbell. And, of course, the club pro who beat Hogan in ’56, Jack Fleck. But, for the most part, Open winners over the years have been top tier players including Nicklaus, Player, Trevino, Miller, Irwin, Stewart, Furyk, Woods, Floyd, Kite, Palmer, Littler, Nelson, Hogan, Sarazen, Hagan, and perhaps the greatest of them all, Bobby Jones. These were players who could read a golf course, take control of it, and in rare instances, take it apart (witness Woods at Pebble in 2000). Well, another has joined the elite pack, a European who plays with heart, courage, and (more…)

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