With 44 Wins, Phil Mickelson at That Awkward Age
Phil Mickelson is entering his second Champions Tour event this week. He won the first one, and for a time it may begin to look as though the fox has gained admission to the hen house. Mickelson has turned the magical age of 50. Actually, I’m not kidding. There is something magical to every age, and each one I’ve reached has allowed me to do more than I once though it would – including golf.
For a professional golfer, however, it isan awkward age. Bernhard Langer solved the problem by staying as young as possible and winning on a regular basis. The fun has never stopped for him. Likewise, as the late career change to the Seniors is creeping up on Tiger Woods, it is a life passage that isn’t always appreciated by the one going through it. No, we didn’t bargain for back surgeries or sciatica all those years ago, but golf and winning are just as much fun as ever. Phil is already learning that.
The awkwardness for Mickelson is a little different. For someone who has won over 40 times on tour, and has come close a lot of other times, his problem is that he is still young enough and good enough to contend. At least, that is the case on his better days. At the same time, he has the potential to lay waste to the Champions Tour for a little while. Distance is still with him, and his game bears the same hallmarks it has for years, It’s still Phil, make no mistake about it.
Of course everyone wants to stay young. Everyone wants to keep winning, but ‘the days of drives and DeChambeau, they are not long.’ In time, everyone has to relax and play a more lyrical, less testosteronic game – unless your name, perhaps, is Daley or one of a few others. It’s a perfect chance to make one’s game reflect the time of life, still competitive but more elegant.
The Champions Tour, to be plain, is no powder puff affair, One competes against the best of yesterday, and the ‘still pretty-goods.’ Age has changed. People like Tom Watson and Fred Couples have contended in majors in later golf life, Watson almost pulling it off.
What happens to our bodies with the advancement of time isn’t always as dire as it sometimes sounds from people who haven’t reached those ages yet, Yes, we need to stretch more, but even I take club back just as far as I always did, still hit it pretty hard, and rotate the hips harder than I used to. I will continue to do that until some big “Ouch!” says I shouldn’t anymore.
Putting is more rational than it once was, with a lifetime of stored experience. Judgment is at its best the older one gets, with only the occasional exception. There’s no more peer pressure to cut the dogleg or hit over the biggest willow tree in the state to impress our friends.
All of that a given, I’m sure Mickelson doesn’t want to say farewell to the glory days, but he is at an age where he can still sort of do it all, regardless of what course of action he might choose. Children are growing up, and there’s much to appreciate in what they are doing., One isn’t as bound to the slavish regularity of the pro game like it was in the ‘get your card’ days. Mickelson is worth $400 million anyway. There’s no economic catastrophe waiting on Sunday if he doesn’t hoist the trophy.
So, happy birthday, Phil. Instead of counting the ‘cant anymores,’ count the plethora of ‘cans’ sprinkled wit a few new ‘shoulds’ and ‘Nope, better nots.’ Maybe you can get into the Bernhard Langer rhythm, and keep the winning thing going for a long time. Better hurry, though. Tiger is no spring chicken anymore, and in 30 years, here comes DeChambeau. It’s ok, though. He’ll only be hitting about 320 by then,.