Phil Mickelson – Hot Start at the U.S. Open
Ardmore, Pennsylvania is the center of the golf universe this week, and in celebration of the event, Mother Nature dropped a few mega-buckets of water on the course, before allowing the sun to peep through and allow at least partial play. That means that the leaderboard isn’t as final a story as it should be, and this is written before everyone is in. Still, here’s what it’s beginning to look like:
If this were Sunday, Phil Mickelson would be the winner of the U.S. Open Championship, and Father/Family Man of the Year, just by doing what a father does when his head is on straight. It’s not as if it was ever crooked. When Amanda was born, Mickelson played with a beeper at Pinehurst, and the self-directive was to leave the course at the moment it went off. It never did, and Phil almost won a major, surrendering to Payne Stewart in the end.
Amanda graduated from the eighth grade, and was a speaker at the ceremony. Many adults wouldn’t interpret that correctly, and say, “Well, it wasn’t college or PhD or something like that.” Phil understood two things – first, that it doesn’t matter what it looks or feels like to you – it matters what it looks and feels like to them. Second, he seems to have understood before many catch on that these moments and events with children are finite. Someday, you’ll run out of them, so it’s a good idea to see as many as you can. For me, many of those events are fuzzy in the memory, except that I remember my parents faces in the audience. That’s what sticks.
The Mickelsons have had enough reminders of how precious life is with difficult, life-threatening births and breast cancer. If you weren’t before, that will sober you up in a big hurry. Perhaps it was good karma for keeping priorities straight that gave him such a good swing today, as he ended up at 3 under, not bad at all after a shaky start with a bogey on #1.
Sometimes, it’s too easy to forget about Mickelson when it comes to predicting the weekend. He has dry spells, true, but when he ignites, it’s with a vengeance, and no one knows when it will happen. We don’t associate him with the rugged athletic type, like Tiger, and I’ve found myself wondering how a guy in his mid-forties with a touch of Pillsbury Dough Boy ever manages to overcome the lean, mean swinging machine that is Woods. Of course, I can hear my nephew screaming, “Golf is not a sport! It’s a game! Sort of good shape people can beat great shape people!”
This year’s Open has given us a wonderful cast of characters, any of which might figure in the outcome, and that’s the fun of it. I point to myself with pride for yesterday’s article, reminding us that Mike Weir still has game. He ended up at +2, but was under for much of the day. Rory McIllroy comes in at minus 1, and if he goes off like a rocket and nobody else does, forget it. Lee Westwood, my candidate for Mr. Runner-Up, is in contention, and it could go his way any week. Webb Simpson’s done this major stuff before, and Adam Scott merely won the Masters – that should qualify him for some attention.
But, sizzling six-irons, Batman – Sergio Garcia is sitting at plus 3, with his nemesis at plus 1. Playing brilliantly and catching Tiger may be the only way he can catch up to apologize yet once again. What a party that would be on day 4 if that strange alliance is paired together.
Meanwhile, here’s to Phil Mickelson, Good Guy of mid-June. Now do a few push-ups and go win this thing.