Monday, June 19, 2006

Is Phil Mickelson An Idiot?

The way I figure it, Billy Buckner still has one over on Phil Mickelson.

Buckner, whose error blew Game 6 of the 1986 World Series for his Red Sox teammates, at least had the dignity of having his blunder over and done with in a split second. It was painful, but it was over quickly; if you blinked, you might have missed the ground ball slipping between his legs. Of course, there's always videotape, in case you missed it.

Mickelson, though, whose horrifying 18th hole Sunday relinquished the U.S. Open to Geoff Ogilvy, had his nightmare played out before everyone in slow-motion fashion. Lefty, in six gruesome shots, suddenly had Winged Foot jammed up his rear end, when it looked as if he'd be kissing it as the victor.

"I'm such an idiot. I can't believe I did that," Mickelson groaned to the reporters and media folks who wondered, hey, what happened?

Then again, we've all said that, haven't we?

"I'm such an idiot. I can't believe I did that."

If I had a dime for everytime I uttered that to Mrs. Eno, for example, I might be as rich as Mickelson or any other successful pro golfer.

But Mickelson's idiocy cost him some dough, not to mention the ignomity of having blown a major tournament.

Rare is it when a golfer wins a major championship while waiting in the clubhouse, but that's exactly what happened to Ogilvy. Mickelson's fold on #18 ensured that.

Shot #1: Tee shot flies over the crowd and ricochets off a hospitality tent.
Shot #2: An iron smacks a tree.
Shot #3: He clears the tree -- but lands in a sand trap.
Shot #4: On the green...but off again.
Shot #5: Out of the rough and onto the green for good.
Shot #6: Made putt.

No, those weren't my most recent six shots -- they were Mickelson's. And with them, he handed Geoff Ogilvy the U.S. Open on a silver tee.

The thing about golf -- especially when a hole turns into Hades -- is that there's nobody to blame but yourself. Each shot, as things get worse and worse, brings more and more winces and groans from a crowd that has turned from observers to a gallery full of parents watching their child walk for the first time. Or drive a car. One eye shut, the other open.

Bill Buckner's error was a Band-Aid being ripped off in one fell swoop. Phil Mickelson's fourth-round 18th hole was a centimeter-by-centimeter Band-Aid removal, with some salt and vinegar poured in for good measure.

Is Mickelson an idiot? Of course not. He's just a guy who had his worst hole of the tournament at the worst possible time. In slow motion. In front of millions. To lose a major.

Beware those winged feet. They'll get you every time.

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