One for the books,
another one for the family
2013 Open, Round 4: What The Phil Just Happened??!!
By Torleif Sorenson on 7/21/13
The 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield was, shockingly, over before it ended. And honestly, how many of you saw this coming? Your humble correspondent certainly didn't.

The champion

The way Phil Mickelson played today, he deserved this one. His final-round 66 (the low round of the day) was stained only by one bogey at the 10th, but when other golfers in contention either couldn't make birdies on the closing nine, or otherwise came apart, Mickelson held true. Coming after a crushing loss at the U.S. Open at Merion, this comes as a violent swing of both emotion and fortune.

Mickelson made birdies at 5 and 9, then beginning at 11, lit it up like a Christmas tree. He made birdies at 13 and 14, made a magnificent par-save at 16, then birdied the final two holes — including a birdie at 18, the picture of which will stick in the memory of millions of golf fans.
"Today was one of the best rounds I've ever played — and it's the best I've ever putted. I was seeing the line, the ball was rolling, it was going in the hole."
Mickelson's game and his general approach to championships are such that most of us never expected him to do especially well on a hard, fast links course like Muirfield. But his win one week ago at the Scottish Open shows that Mickelson changed his game and his tactical approach, in advance of the Open Championship.

Lefty is already in the Hall of Fame. None of his three Masters victories were a fluke. His heartbreaking losses at the U.S. Open are a spectacle, but they do not mitigate Mickelson's rightful place among the greats in Saint Augustine, Florida. But having won the Open Championship on a punishing layout like Muirfield erases at least one lingering doubt about his overall accomplishments.

Congratulations, Phil — you played more than well enough to deserve this one.

Amateur hour

You probably haven't heard of Matthew Fitzpatrick before now, but there's a strong possibility you will hear and read more about him in future years. He won the R&A's 2012 Boys Amateur Championship, but Fitzpatrick still had to qualify to get into the Open. He shot 73-76-73-72 to finish at +10, good enough for a silver medal as Low Amateur of the championship. For an 18-year-old to play as well as he did on a brutal layout like Muirfield is plenty impressive.

Fitzpatrick will play in the English Men's Amateur Championship later this month at Frilford Heath, and then the 18-year-old will head to Chicago to attend college and play NCAA golf for Northwestern University:
"Going to university is a big thing. Mum and Dad made sure education came first, so I have something to fall back on if the golf doesn't work out. Northwestern is a great academic school. It's 19th in the world or something, so that should hold me in good stead."
Shades of Luke Donald!

Swedish Strongman

The best male golfer to emerge from Sweden, Henrik Stenson got very hot between 2008 and 2010, but tailed off the last two years. His solo-second at Muirfield (70-70-74-70 = 284, level par) doesn't just represent a return to major championship form — it is also his best finish ever in a major, just ahead of a pair of T-3s at the Open Championship in 2008 and 2010, and three other top-tens. Stenson has 12 professional victories, including the 2007 WGC Match Play and the 2010 Players, along with Ryder Cup appearances in 2006 and 2008.

Annika Sorenstam is, far and away, Sweden's most famous and most successful professional golfer, with ten major championships, 80 other professional tour victories, and eight Solheim Cup appearances. And while Stenson has yet to become equally famous, if he can break through and win a major, all of Sweden will make double-$%#@ sure you know all about this fine player afterward.

Three for Third

Yesterday, this writer predicted that Lee Westwood would hang on and win his first major. And after one bogey and one birdie through six holes, it was looking pretty good. Then came consecutive bogeys at 7 and 8... and now, it's eight top-3 finishes in the major championships since the 2008 U.S. Open. Can Westwood pull a "Lefty" and win at Oak Hill?

Ian Poulter didn't win the Open, either, but after shooting 75 on Saturday, he has to be pleased with a two-bogey, four-birdie 67 that featured an eagle at the 9th. This is just a WAG (wild-@$$ guess) on my part, but this writer predicts that Poults will capture a major before Westwood does.

And then, there's Adam Scott. Ugh. After bogeys at 1 and 4, the current Masters championship reeled off four birdies in five holes from 7 through 11. With just seven holes to go, Scott found himself in the lead!

And then, just like last year, the wheels fell off. A bad shot at 13 found the dunes to the right of the green, then his par putt burned the lip. Then came the bogeys at 14, 15, and 16. His closing 20-foot putt for birdie at 18 was not only hollow succor, but by then, utterly meaningless. This game can be so cruel...


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Image via TheOpen.com


[ comments ]
golfingbumunderpar64 says:
One word.... AWESOME!!,!!!!!
7/21/13
 
GolfSmith7 says:
He played great and I am not even a fan...
7/21/13
 
Jattruia says:
Slacker.
7/21/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
I hate on Phil as much as anyone but I am glad for him, he really outclassed all the contenders today. Maybe his game is improving with age, which is scary. He still pounds it, and probably plays with more confidence than anyone over the last year. Kind of scary how this Muirfield course has a way of producing a hall of fame champion.
7/21/13
 
joe jones says:
I feel sorry for Westwood & Scott. They both have a history of being iffy putters and that is what failed them today. For some reason Westwood has a habit of missing putts to the left under pressure. He thought he had it under control with the help of Ian-Baker Finch but it reared it's head again today. Scott has the opposite problem He seems to pull pressure putts. It appears to me that he doesn't extend his right hand down the shaft to full extent.I have tried his method and along with him not having the ball under his eyes that might be the problem. On the other hand Phil said he found the putting secret. I hope he shares it with everyone.
7/21/13
 
joe jones says:
Phil's round was one of the greatest I have ever seen. For once he played with control and by doing that Phil The Thrill never showed up in a negative way. Those two three woods on 17 were unbelievable & his putting was magical. I have had the feeling that his arthritis was starting to hinder his play but he seems to have found a treatment that allows him to function well. I hope it continues.
7/21/13
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
Joe Jones: I somehow forgot about Phil's psoriatic arthritis - thanks for remembering! It makes Phil's victory that much more impressive.
7/21/13
 
PKT says:
Classy round by Phil - I would have preferred to see Westwood or Scott win, but Phil took it away while the others faltered. I also appreciated the way Phil handled bad breaks during the round; a stark contrast to the way Tiger seethed and cursed.
7/21/13
 
falcon50driver says:
It was an exceptionally pleasing day to see my favorite player win so convincingly, and see Adam Scott and Zach Johnson finish well also. Congratulations Phil.
7/21/13
 
metnorm says:
Never thought I would see Phil win the Open. Heck I didn't even pick him on the best ball challenge because his style isn't right for those type of courses. I am totally happy that he won though. Btw Torleif I don't know if the info was there when you posted this but Phil is now number 2 in the world again.
7/21/13
 
joe jones says:
After a day of trying to absorb what happened it suddenly dawned on me that other than his first British Open Phil has never even been discussed as being a potential winner. For a great player to not even be given a chance to do well in a tournament it is that much more remarkable the way he has changed his thought processes and game to put him even in the discussion.He has surrounded himself with the correct people to enable him to succeed. Bones, Butch Harmon and Dave Pelz all share in his success and his love of family comes through as a true mark of his solid life. For those detractors over the years, all I can say is what do you say now.He treats his fans with more respect than just about anyone on the tour and they love him for it.
7/22/13
 
mustang6560 says:
It was fun to watch Phil do work down the stretch, however, it always sucks (for the fans) when the finish isn't dramatic.

The only thing that annoys me about Phil's win is the fact "He won without a driver in the bag". So many people want to act like his win is more impressive. The reality is he won't BECAUSE he didn't have a driver in the bag. Lefty's terrible off the tee, so the fact he couldn't hit a driver helped him. Plus, his "3-wood" (or whatever it is) is nearly a driver in terms of loft.
7/22/13
 
DougE says:
I'm still waiting to hear ToddRobb's take. The Scottish Open and now THE Open, back to back wins. Slacker? I think not Todd. Where are you Todd? Again, I say, 4, now 5 majors puts him in a pretty elite group. Great job Phil.
7/22/13
 
mustang6560 says:
DougE: Not to brag or anything but I did call Phil's win :)

www.oobgolf.com/content/fore+play/today+in+golf/
7/22/13
 
DougE says:
No driver=course management, one of the most important aspects of winning on any course. Sorry Nathan. It's not about distance, but I guess you just realized that after your round from the front tees. Ouch!
7/22/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
Phil just played what he considers the greatest round of his life, and the whole world got to watch it. That makes us all winners as far as I am concerned.
7/22/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
I'm sure the wine and the lobster raviolis were flowing freely last night.
7/22/13
 
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