Monday, July 22, 2013

King of Scotland

A week ago I told you to refrain from being surprised if Phil hoisted the Claret Jug this week, so please don’t tell me you are surprised. Okay, you can be a little surprised because even I can’t say that I totally expected what happened in the final round. Looking back on Phil’s year so far, a day like today was not completely out of the realm of possibility. In fact, Phil has played some great golf this year. He already had a win on the PGA Tour as well as on the European Tour and a handful of other top five finishes including yet another second place finish at the U.S. Open. It is hard to expect that you will see one of the greatest rounds of golf in major championship history though. At the outset Phil Mickelson had a tough task ahead of him. He had finished his third round in a somewhat disappointing fashion with three bogeys down the stretch, was five shots back, and had proven major champions and those poised to win their first major between him and the lead. He certainly needed to shoot a good score and, at the time, it looked like he was going to need some help too. His front nine was solid indeed as he shot two under par to get himself firmly into contention at even par for the championship. Most will remember the birdies that he made at five and nine, but what really kept his round going were the numerous par saving putts that he made in those opening nine holes. Unfortunately, he started his back nine with a bogey. Two pars later he stood on the thirteenth tee still in contention. At this point, however, both Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson were looking strong. Especially Adam Scott whose demons from Royal Lytham & St Annes were now firmly shielded by a green jacket. The good news is that the thirteenth is where Phil started to orchestrate one of the greatest finishes in major championship history. He hit a solid tee shot on the par three thirteenth that gave him a great look at birdie. He canned the birdie. This got him to even par, a number that both Phil and I, as well as others, felt would probably be good enough to at least get into a playoff. In fact, at the end of the day it would have been good enough to get him into a playoff with Henrik Stenson. Thirteen was only the start though. Phil went on to make a long birdie putt on fourteen to get him to one under par. A hard fought par on the fifteenth brought him to the sixteenth tee in great shape. This is when Phil hit a solid tee shot on the par three to about twenty feet. The shot went unrewarded though as it slowly rolled back and off the front of the green. A tough break like this would derail many a golfer. Phil Mickelson, ever the optimist, never looks behind though. He knows that life isn’t about the failures or the bad breaks, but about what you do after the disappointment. How else could a man be poised to win his fifth major after finishing second in a major that he has never won for a record sixth time just a month earlier? With the past firmly behind him, Phil got up and down for par on the sixteenth to keep the momentum going. Then Phil hit a solid three wood off the tee at the par five seventeenth. Another solid blow with his three wood and a good kick off of a downslope left Phil on the green with a chance for eagle. This, coupled with the fact that the other contenders including Adam Scott (who found out that not even a green jacket cures all major championship woes as Phil Mickelson can surely attest to) were going backwards, left Phil with one hand on the Claret Jug. Two putts later and Phil was off to the seventy-second hole with his best chance ever to win the Open Championship. Once again he laced a solid three wood down the middle. A solid approach that got a little lucky to miss the bunker on the left gave him a great look at birdie. At this point he only needed a par though. Nevertheless, he drained the birdie putt to cap off a final round 66 that left him at three under par for the championship and put the title essentially out of reach for everyone else. It was a beautiful sight as Phil and his great friend Jim “Bones” Mackay hugged on the final green as was the hug with his family that ensued. After waiting for the final few groups to finish, Phil was finally able to hoist the Claret Jug and cap off a truly great fortnight during which he became the King of Scotland, or at the very least, the King of the Scottish Links. Looking ahead, the dream scenario is now set. Phil has a chance to complete the career grand slam at the U.S. Open. The major that has eluded him his whole career. Not only that, the U.S. Open is at Pinehurst No. 2, the sight of his first ever second place finish at the U.S. Open. The prospect of him winning there, and in a certain sense coming full circle, gives me goose bumps. For the moment though, I am going to enjoy Phil’s first ever Open Championship and fifth career major as I am sure he will too. By the way, there are two more majors before next June rolls around and Phil is certainly poised to win one or both of them. Congratulations Phil. This one was sweet.

King of Scotland Images

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Alexander III Huntington King of Scotland 1 , 2
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... on Forest Whitaker Interview For The Last King Of Scotland The Cinema
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