Mickelson wins at Doral despite his stubborness
By Tod Leonard
March 16, 2009, 11:04 a.m.
Phil the Thrill and Phil the Pill both won at Doral on Sunday.
Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world, but Mickelson is the most exciting, and he continues to prove that every week. He also is the most stubborn cuss out there, supremely confident in his own ability while flaunting a recklessness on the course that borders on the ridiculous.
All you need to know about that is what happened on the par-5 12th hole Sunday. It was a fascinating and hilarious scene between Mickelson and his caddie/coach Jim "Bones" Mackay. NBC happened to catch it perfectly. If you saw it, you know what I'm talking about. If you didn't, you've got to hear about it.
Mickelson badly pulled his drive into and under a thick plant that looked like pampas. With no stance for a left-hander, it looked like he would have to take an unplayable lie, make a drop and take his medicine.
But not Phil. He wanted to hit the shot right-handed with an overturned 8-iron (he is right-handed in everyting else but golf), thread it through some palm trees and advance it far up the fairway.
"If I go right of that palm tree," Phil said to Mackay, pointing, "and left of that one, it's a fairly easy corridor."
This is where it got funny. Bones allows about a two-beat silence and then offers, "OK, the other option is to drop back here and play 3, and save 5 the hard way -- which is what I like."
Now, very lawyer-like, Bones adds, "I see what you're saying. You got to ask yourself what the penalty is going to be if it ricochets off something playing right-handed. You could legitimately hit the ball right-handed, hit the trees and go out of bounds."
Phil never looks at Bones. Obviously not swayed, and with a tone of impatience, he says, "Well ..." He's like a kid being told he can't have candy before dinner. He doesn't have a really great argument.
Then Phil goes to grab his 8-iron and says to Bones, "I've hit these shots a bunch. It's not a big deal."
As Phil addresses the ball, Bones, being the complete caddie he is, has one last question: "Can you see the ball when you stand over it?"
NBC anchor Dan Hicks offers, "That's the dynamic we see so many times ... Bones with the reins on Mickelson, but he's like a horse that wants to get away."
Adds Johnny Miller, "What wins out, the thrill mentality or the voice of reason?"
The Thrill wins of course, except he also loses. Mickelson rips the shot, but it hits one of the palm trees Mackay warned him about. The ball drops straight down however. Lucky for Mickelson, no bad carom.
"Where did it go? Where is it?" Mickelson asks Bones. (This is where Phil is probably thinking, "Maybe I should have listened?")
Lucky that he can carve the ball around the palm on his third shot, Mickelson does so, and eventually saves an impressive bogey 6. He probably would have had the same score if he had taken the drop, but the point is that he could have also made a much bigger number because of his stubborness.
Nick Watney helped Mickelson out by also making bogey on the same hole, and that missed chance, among others, proved to be the difference.
Bottom line: Phil isn't going to change, nor do we want him to. He's just way too entertaining.
I can't see him ever winning a U.S. Open or another PGA playing this way, but he might get away with it to score another green jacket.
Miller had the day's best line: "I think if I caddied for Phil I'd have a shock collar for him."