Welcome back Lefty. Oh how we've missed you and your amazing ability to steal defeat from the jaws of victory. And yes, thank you for saving me $100. Yesterday was a perfect example of why I've never really bought into the fact that Lefty was over his troubles in crunch time. When Oglivy hit his second shot in front of the 18th green, Lefty stood on the tee box and figured he needed a par to win and that a bogey would get him in a playoff. Listen, a par on any hole out there was no gimme, but especially not 18. Hell, Monty had just doubled ten minutes before Lefty hit the hospitality tent with his drive! Then, to make matters worse for Lefty, Ogilvy did get up and down and posted a number. At that moment, you knew Phil was done. You just knew he was about to pull a Van De Velde (actually, I didn't know this...I actually figured he'd hole out from the fairway for eagle as much luck as he had on the back nine yesterday. Seriously, I have NEVER seen a golfer catch more breaks than Phil on the home 9. A trash can for God's sake?)
In all sincerity, when Ogilvy posted the number, Mickelson was being forced to do something he had never confronted in any of his three major triumphs...avoid disaster when he was expected to win. Take his first Masters' in '04 for example. He was chasing Els the entire back nine. He had a free license to whale away and go for broke. Nobody really expected him to catch Els, so he was able to play with an amazing freedom. Then, on the 18th hole, he sunk a 15 footer that nobody could have blamed him if he missed. Clutch? Yes. (Hell, it won the Masters). Potentially disatrous if he missed? Not even close.
In his second major victory at last year's PGA, it was more about neither Steve Elkington or Thomas Bjorn making a birdie on the par 5 18th at Baltusrol (the only true birdie hole on the back nine) than Lefty's birdie to win it. Not to mention, he made his winning birdie in front of about 25 people at 9:30 a.m. on Monday morning. Not exactly a pressure cooker.
Finally, at this year's Master's, NOBODY put any pressure on Lefty. He just cruised along making pars and the occasional birdie on the back nine while every one else faltered. First Woods inexplicably turned two eagle opportunities into pars on 13 and 15, then Couples melted down on the back nine. In short, he again cruised with no pressure.
Then came yesterday. He stood on the 18th hole with his own destiny in his hands. If he walks away with par, he joins Hogan and Woods as the only two men to ever win three modern majors in a row. What does he do? He inexplicably takes out his driver, hits a hospitality tent, hits his second shot off a tree, plunks his third into the bunker, blows his fourth to the other side of the green, and gets up and down for a 6. Just good enough to lose. And, in the process, he unfortunately left an indelible memory for posterity. In 20 years, when people talk about Mickelson, his true die hard fans may tell you that the first thing they think of is that 15 footer on 18 at Augusta in '04, but they will be lying. The memory that people will think of first is his meltdown when he stood on the doorstep of golf immortality. He had a chance to become a legend, and he let it slip away. It's one thing to be great, it's a completely different thing to be a legend. Unfortunately for Phil, he will have to settle for the former.
I didn't see the game since the cable guy hasn't come to the new palace, and they kicked us out of the bar after The Open, but I have read about it this morning, and let me just say this very clearly: DWYANE WADE IS THE BEST PLAYER IN THE NBA!!! Are there any questions about how I feel on this matter?
U.S. vs. Ghana
I am really pumped about the impending showdown on Thursday. This could happen. It really can happen. USA! USA! USA!