Phil takes on the 6th at Riviera
At a maximum of 199 yards, the par-3 6th at Rivera doesn’t play as a super long hole these days and with a scoring average of 2.983, it’s not recognized as being overly easy or difficult. However, it is one of the most interesting holes on the PGA Tour, and we saw exactly why during play on Saturday at the Genesis Open thanks to Phil Mickelson.
What makes the 6th hole at Riviera unique is the bunker that is situated right smack in the middle of the green. For a great write up of the course, along with a ton of stunning photos, including the 6th, I highly recommend checking out Andy Johnson’s piece on Riviera for the Fried Egg. During Saturday’s second round, the 6th was playing at 169 yards with the pin left of the bunker. Over the years, we’ve seen lots of players who have made the unfortunate mistake of playing to the opposite side of the bunker, leading to a decision of trying to putt around the bunker, or taking out a wedge and attempting to play over the bunker while on the green.
Enter Phil Mickelson. Phil was having his standard up and down round on Saturday as he approached the 6th. To give you an idea of what he was facing from the tee, this is what he was looking at:
He tried to bring it in from left to right:
But, as David Duval pointed out, he overcooked it and it hit the green near the back bunker. Unfortunately, the 6th features a ton of back to front slope, which ensured that Phil’s ball would be nowhere near that spot when it finished, and instead of being in the middle of the green, it funnelled all the way down to the right side of the green. Phil had a decision to make, but with where he was, there was no point in putting it, so the wedge was really the only play.
On top of that, this actually wasn’t the first time that Phil has had to take the wedge out on the 6th at Riviera. Look at this flop from about a decade ago:
As an amateur, there’s no shot that I can think of that I’d be less comfortable taking on than this one. There’s pretty much no way that it would turn out to be a positive, but for Phil, this is going to be right up his alley and there’s no one that you’d rather see attempt it than him, right? Duval and Terry Gannon were positively giddy about the possibilities.
- Duval: “We’re probably going to get to see a carnival ride type golf shot here where he throws it almost over the green and brings it off the slope.”
- Gannon: “I mean, this is why we watch Phil, isn’t it?”
- Duval: “Precisely. What’s going to happen, right? And now, we’re going to get to see the full effects and breadth of his imagination to figure out how to get his second shot close to the hole.”
After a few more shots were shown, Golf Channel went back to Phil:
- Gannon: “Alright, here we go. You’ve done this a few times here?”
- Duval: “I have had to do this, yes. It’s a bit nerve wracking.”
With Bones tending the flag, Phil went to work and the result was as spectacular as you’d expect.
Yes, he had a perfect lie and Phil would probably tell you that the shot wasn’t that hard because he knew how to hit, but this is ridiculously good. To top it all off, he would end up making bogey because he missed the five footer for par, giving us a solid runner-up to the 13th on Sunday at the 2010 Masters in the “most Phil hole ever” contest.
Never change, Phil.