July 01, 2009

Phil Mickelson hits backwards better than you hit forwards: Phil Mickelson demonstrates how much better at golf he is, compared to the rest of us.

posted by BoKnows to golf at 11:04 PM - 10 comments

FIGJAM, baby!

posted by rcade at 11:17 PM on July 01

Greatest short game player ever, that one.

posted by holden at 12:14 AM on July 02

First thing that struck me was the financial institutions sponsoring him. Given how they've doomed the world, I really don't think they should be sponsoring golf videos...

Hell of a shot that though. Impressive.

posted by Drood at 02:12 AM on July 02

Mind blowing.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:53 AM on July 02

He's been at this crap (making the same joke about misreading it) for years : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wToLTkEVzU0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUYFbD1rNv0

Greatest short game player ever

Nonsense. Great short game players don't miss so many short putts. No point being able to hit it back over your head, through your caddie's legs, bounce it off a tree and skim it over a lake to 5 feet if you then miss the putt.

Most over-rated short game ever.

I used to think (and probably said it more than once around here) that he didn't have big enough balls. I was wrong about that. His balls are enormous, but his brain is miniscule.

I played at Winged Foot a couple of weeks ago while I was over watching the US Open (at Bethpage) and only then did the magnitude of Phil's choke at 18 in 2006 really hit me. It's not an easy hole by any means, but it's not nearly as difficult as it looks on TV. To try and hit the shots he tried to hit (there's a 5 minute video here of the denouement if you need reminding) demonstrated a certain mental frailty. To quote the man himself: "I still am in shock that I did that. I just can't believe that I did that. I am such an idiot."

Monty also made a bit of a mess there. I threw a ball down and had a go at his shot (from 171 yards, three steps in from the right rough, with a 7-iron). You can't see it on the video, so you'll have to trust me, but I hit it to 5 feet and holed the putt. I was playing with a guy from the USGA, but even though he agreed that the hole location was almost identical to the Sunday one from 2006 - if anything, my ball finished closer to where the pin was that day - he seemed strangely reluctant to admit that this shot in effect made me the de facto 2006 US Open champion.

Perhaps it was the fact that I shot 83.

posted by JJ at 07:36 AM on July 02

In the interest of balance, and because I've grown to really like Phil and understand that most of the reason I used to not like him was that he reminded me so much of my own (brainless) style of play, I will concede that I heard about something he did that was truly mind-blowing.

At the Walker Cup in 1991, the US played GB&I at Portmarnock near Dublin. Phil was part of the team and played a practice round with Jay Sigel. They came to the par three 15th hole - 190 yards long with the wind that day off the left pushing you towards the Irish sea on the right (video here if you want it - Arnie called it the toughest par three in Ireland).

Sigel tried to hold a draw with a 5 iron against the wind, but could only watch, dismayed as his ball headed onto the beach. Phil also hit a 5 iron but (as a lefty) with a cut that held against the wind and finished 10 feet from the hole. Sigel muttered "Nice shot, but it's an easier hole for a lefty."

Phil laughed and pointed out that in fact he is right handed (my source never said if he indulged in the Princess Bride quotation fest this was obviously an opportunity for) and asked Sigel for his 5 iron. He then hit a high, right handed draw that held off the wind and finished 15 feet from the hole.

Now that's mind blowing.

posted by JJ at 07:56 AM on July 02

So he hits better than me right handed as well as left handed, backwards as well as forwards.

Not surprising in my case, as I'd be lucky to get around Winged Foot in a hundred and eighty three.

Thanks, JJ.

posted by owlhouse at 08:41 AM on July 02

There's a lot more to being an elite athlete than raw talent. Ask Stephon Marbury.

Mickelson has some unbelievable skills that make him a terrific talent and personality. Does he not always focus on the right things? Sure. Does that make a shot like this any less awesome? Definitely not.

JJ: Winged Foot the way you played it is much different than the course the pros play. The greens are far faster and trickier, the rough thicker. Oh, and there's the whole on-the-cusp-of-winning-the-U.S-Open thing. Doesn't take away from his poor decision-making, but don't think your experience matched his in any way.

posted by werty at 10:22 AM on July 02

This is not an awesome shot, never mind any discussion of different degrees of awesome. Most good amateurs and almost all of the pros could play it with the ball perched on the hill and a 64 degree wedge in hand. Give me an hour around that green and as many takes as we need to get it done and I'll hole that shot and save you the gringeworthy joke about miss-reading it.

The difference is that Mickelson is one of only a handful of pros who might be stupid enough to try and play a shot like this in competition if it ever happened to come up. For all his great shots around the greens, I've seen him hit more fluffs and thins trying to do something so difficult (when he's had other options) than anyone at the top of the game for the last ten years.

Winged Foot the way you played it is much different than the course the pros play

Ain't that the truth - you've never seen a more amateurish display in your life. Joking aside, we played off "competition tees", but in places they were nowhere near the tips. At the ninth (par 5) I finally hit a decent drive and found something I'm told is called a fairway. We were 60 yards forward of the championship tees and I went in with 6-iron. Our host told me that tiger had been about 10 yards further off the tee (so about 70 yards longer) and gone in with 9-iron.

On another par five on the back nine I got the green with two solid three wood shots. I said I thought it was a bit of a weak hole - and so I did until our host pointed out that there was a championship tee way back (130 yards back of the one we had played off) that I hadn't even noticed.

The rough was tough, but you could a) find your ball and b) usually get as much as an 8-iron on it. On one occasion I managed to hit a 4 iron from it, but that was a risky and stupid shot that got lucky and came off. Most of the places I hit it in the rough during US Open week would have been hit-it-sideways-back-to-the-fairway territory.

The greens were fantastic. They were running at a nice pace that meant you could attack as long as your putt was uphill, but you were in danger of looking a fool if you had a go down or accross the slopes. I don't know what they were measuring, but it couldn't have been more than 11. On a Sunday afternoon in June (when it hadn't been raining every day for three months and the greens were stripped right down), they would have been borderline unplayable in places.

Put it this way - the scary downhill / crosshill putts I had were a chance to show great touch and feel and cosy the ball down to the hole. At US Open pace, I couldn't have kept any of them on the green, unless they'd gone in.

I wasn't likening my experience to Phil's (or even Monty's), just saying that at the time on TV, what he was trying to do (bomb it round the corner) made some sense given what I could see and what the commentators were saying, but when you stand on the tee you realise that a) he didn't need to bomb it anywhere - it's a 450 yard hole, so even a solid 3 wood off the tee wouldn't have left him much more than a 5 or 6-iron in, and b) having hit it into the trees, he had all the room in the world to hit it back into the fairway at his chosen distance from the green anywhere from 70 to 120 yards depending on what he likes.

Maybe if he had a bit more faith in his short game, he might have done that.

In fairness, the thing that killed him in a way was 17. He hit a crap drive there two and hit a miracle hard cut with a 3-iron that helped him make a very unlikely par. If he hadn't just hit that shot ten minutes previously, he might have thought twice about trying it on 18.

And before I go and terrorise the local links yet again I'll add one more thing - my experience was not entirely unlike Phil's. I didn't win either. At least Phil didn't have the ignominy of having to lose to his own father.

posted by JJ at 11:35 AM on July 02

Yeah but did he make the putt?

posted by dbt302 at 12:22 PM on July 02

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