Mickelson cruises to Waste Management win
Phil Mickelson’s opening round 60 set the tone for the whole week, as the four-time major winner never relinquished the lead en route to his 41st PGA Tour victory, and third at TPC Scottsdale.
As we documented on Thursday, Mickelson came perilously close to joining the rare “59 Club” in his opening round. He had to settle for an opening round 60, and was never ahead by less than three strokes at any point when he was on the course. I actually said to a few co-workers on Thursday that I thought he was going to give up the lead pretty quickly because I thought he’d have a tough time in Friday’s second round off of such a great day on Thursday. When he fired a second round 65, it was all over. He was driving the ball far too well, and his accuracy with his irons and putting was incredible. When he last won this event in 2005, his GIR was 62.5%, and this week it was 87.5%. His putting? He gained 1.85 strokes over the field this week. Brandt Snedeker led the PGA Tour last year with an average of 0.86 per event. Mickelson was so good this week, you can pretty much ignore how bad he was in his first two events of the year.
The Stupid Thing Johnny Miller Said This Week
With Jim Nantz and CBS doing the Super Bowl this week, NBC took control of the weekend coverage. Mickelson switched drivers this week to Callaway’s new RAZR Fit Xtreme, and he was tremendous with it, hitting tons of fairways all week. Of course, Johnny Miller has been a Callaway endorser since the early 90’s, and whenever a Callaway athlete has a successful week, we are treated to endless love for the company and product line from NBC’s lead analyst. With Mickelson’s driving this week, Miller started selling the product harder than ever.
I guess he’s just doing his part for the company that pays him, and it was worth noting that Mickelson switched clubs for this week, but Miller certainly didn’t need to be ram it down our throats as much as he did on the weekend.
The PGA Tour’s new social media policy
I’ve avoided comment on this for the past couple of weeks, but the idiotic policy change by the PGA Tour to attempt to silence the play-by-play of their events on Twitter was magnified on Thursday afternoon. For those unaware, the PGA Tour sent out a memo to all journalists covering the Tour that basically said that live play-by-play was now going to be banned, and those who disobeyed were going to have their access revoked. They later eased up a little bit saying that one tweet per hole was going to be allowed. The reason behind this, allegedly, is that the PGA Tour thinks that the tweets are taking away from their coverage on PGATour.com and their Shot Tracker.
Shot Tracker can be a useful tool, when it works. Unfortunately, it provides little in the way of context and is frequently unreliable when it comes to, you know, actually tracking shots. In a sport that is struggling to maintain its relevance in the North American sports scene, the most prolific organization in the world is trying to stop people from discussing its game and all of the great things about it. The worst part about the whole thing is that I’m not even surprised. Every negative stereotype that you can project about golf and its governing bodies comes to fruition with this policy, and it just shows once again how out of touch they are with reality. They’ve been getting ripped non-stop in the media, but so far, they haven’t really relented.
Now, Mickelson’s chase for 59 on Thursday was a big deal. Golf Channel cut away from their regular programming to jump in early, and my Twitter feed was getting pretty excited about the whole thing. The other reason I know it’s a big deal is because of the way my office reacted. I work in sports media, but golf is never the focus, especially on Thursdays of non-majors. Everyone was glued to the TV when Mickelson approached the 18th tee and it was magnified even more when he stepped up to attempt his putt that lipped out. Events like that are what Twitter was made for, and it’s when Twitter is at its best.
Trying to stop people who want to talk about the game from talking about it is about as asinine as it gets, but hey, it’s their decision. Can you imagine the NFL implementing something like this for the Super Bowl? Of course you can’t, because there’s no way that the NFL would ever do something that stupid.
Padraig Harrington’s field goal
Padraig Harrington was one of the many players this week to have a little fun with the fans on the 16th. One of Harrington’s sponsors is Wilson, who is the official manufacturer of the footballs used in the NFL, so in Saturday’s third round, Harrington decided to attempt a field goal into the crowd. For someone who has allegedly never kicked or thrown a football, he actually did pretty well. Video below:
Other notes from the tournament
- I don’t have a ton to say about Vijay Singh’s PED use or his withdrawal from the event this week with “back soreness”. What I will say is this: Vijay is either the dumbest person on the planet for not thinking there could be something illegal inside deer antler spray, or he thinks that we’re stupid enough to believe he’s innocent. Much like other sports, I’m simply tired of the whole discussion. Let me know when someone more relevant in the golf world is caught with something.
- Mickelson’s dominance is going to overshadow his performance, but Brandt Snedeker had a tremendous week. Rounds of 64-66-65-65 gave him his second consecutive runner-up finish. In fifteen rounds played this year, only one has been over par.
- Pat Perez was DQ’d after Friday’s second round for signing an incorrect scorecard.
- Lastly, we didn’t see anything too crazy at the 16th this week, but take a look at the below image. Always come prepared to heckle at TPC Scottsdale.
— Mike Fields (@MikeFieldsNE) February 1, 2013