Niagara Gazette


August 18, 2013

SINGER: Lefty: From Porter Cup to U.S. Open?


Niagara Gazette — Thankfully, he pried one major monkey off his back after another–winning three coveted Masters, one PGA, and finally, this summer of 2013, a British Open! Odd how it all came together at the latter–he’d first gotten over jet lag and warmed up in the U.K.’s cool north by winning the Scottish Open. And then at the British, Phil thankfully eluded the horrid, Norman-like position of leading after three rounds, going into the final day with expectations mounting vertiginously. Instead, poor Lee Westwood was peppered with the usual questions (another fine golfer awaiting a major), and then with crowd pressures on the final day.

Very conveniently, Mickelson at five shots back, and teeing off before the half-dozen or so ahead of him in the hunt, felt he could go for broke in the last round, and be somewhat the gambler, emerging from the weeds like Arnold or Stallone in an old action flick.

Which he did marvelously, and right to the end, even threading the needle by perilous traps at eighteen, curling his approach to about ten feet, and then draining one last putt for birdie–no half-way measures for him that fine day at Muirfield. All Mickelson did was fire a gaudy 66 to win by three, the only player in the field to break par in the 2013 Open.

He’d now won a fifth major and it was great to see. Am I making invidious comparisons here with Tiger? No way. Woods and Mickelson have been and remain the iconic American golfers of their era; but Tiger is definitely the tougher of the two, thanks in part to a strong father, who used to throw things at his kid while he was swinging to prepare him for the rigors of pro golf and what became massive, future stardom.

Sometimes there’s justice, right? Now if only Mickelson could quiet down that U.S. Open crowd, start from well behind in next year’s final round, and ...

Or does he have anything left to prove?

B.B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.

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