Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 112: Golf Ninja, Phil Mickelson, Wins First British Open.

I was sort of obsessed with the British Open this weekend. There was something about getting up and lounging around on the couch all morning watching this thing live that was very appealing. Probably because it was too hot to move on Saturday... and it was too cool this morning not to!

When any golf tournament is close, especially a major, it's so riveting because (like most sporting events) anything can happen. Just one missed fairway into the deep fescue, just one deep pot bunker, just one putt struck too firmly or just one gust of wind can knock a player down in an instant. Ask Tiger Woods or Lee Westwood or Hunter Mahan or Adam Scott—all of whom where in the hunt when the round started today.

They all had something to prove today. Tiger hasn't won a major since 2008 and he won The Open last in 2006. Adam Scott was desperate to quell the demons of 2012 when he blew a four shot lead with four holes to play, relinquishing the title to Ernie Els. Lee Westwood and Hunter Mahan were both still in search of their first major win.

But Muirfield Golf Links in East Lothian, Scotland had other ideas. The course was nothing short of brutal over the four days. Warm, sunny weather dried out the fairways and greens making drives, and unfortunately putts, never-ending. Some golfers seemed to handle it well, others did not. Heading in to the final round, Lee Westwood enjoyed a two-shot lead at three under, but both Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan lurked two just shots back at -1. Phil Mickelson was tied for ninth at +2.

Who knew that the top of the leader board would become infected with a case of the yips today? By the ninth hole, Westwood had not hit one fairway off the tee and ended up with a +4 round for the day. And Tiger seemed to forget how to putt and settled for a +3 round... although he did remember how to swear, which the microphones picked up often. Phil Mickelson must have been wearing a hazmat suit because yips were nowhere to be found in his game today.

Mickelson started the day five shots off the lead. By the ninth hole, he had cut that deficit to three shots, birdying both par fives on the front. After bogeying the 10th hole, he put the pedal to the metal and quietly took full advantage of the problems the players behind him were having. He birdied four of the last six holes, including 17 and 18 to put the Championship out of reach and post a 66—the low score of the day. They were engraving his name on the Claret Jug before the final pairing had even finished.

Personally, I would've been happier with a multi-player sudden death, but that's mostly because I love sudden death in major golf championships, and also because I'm not the biggest Phil fan. Regardless, Congratulations Phil Mickelson on winning your first British Open!

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