Mickelson Shines at Muirfield

Hey, congrats Phil, sorry it took me so long to appreciate your work though.

If you would have told me a year ago my debut post on Blog So Hard Sports would be about Golf, and much less Phil Mickelson I would have told you to pound sand. A year later, I’m going to do just that.

Phil Mickelson’s performance at Muirfield Golf Links in East Lothian, Scotland brought me out of hiding and was, in my opinion, an example of sports brilliance at its best.

The right-handed man commonly referred to as “Lefty” was down 5 strokes going into the final round of a Major Championship he had never won.

Who did he have to jump in order to come away with his first Claret Jug? Oh, only Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Hunter Mahan, Angel Cabrera, Zach Johnson and some guy named Tiger Woods.

Make no mistake though, it wasn’t just about who Phil passed on his way to his first British Open Championship, it was the way he did it. He shot a 66 and was the only player in the last 11 groups to break 70, doing so by 4 strokes, a round that put him 3 under par for the tournament — three shots clear of the field and if that wasn’t impressive enough how about birdieing 4 of his last 6 holes?

Prior to the round Mickelson’s swing coach, the legendary Butch Harmon, told him even par or one under would probably be enough to compete for the lead. Phil said he’d be better than that, and he was.

However, it’s not just the round of golf that Lefty played yesterday that makes this his signature victory in my mind, it’s everything that has led up to this point in his life.

We’re talking about a 20+ year professional who at the young age of 43 dominated a round of golf on a course that was eating up guys half his age and others that most assume possess far more talent than Phil.

This was the same man who two weeks ago imploded at the US Open which afterwards he called the worst loss of his career.

This is the same man who in 2009 within two months of each other found out his wife and mother both had breast cancer. A man who a year later himself would be diagnosed with Psoriatic arthritis – which if you have never heard is worth a read to appreciate the pain Mickelson has to overcome just to play golf.

Overcome: Phil Mickelson of the U.S. holds the Claret Jug as he celebrates with his wife Amy, and children Amanda, Sophia and Evan, after winning the British Open

In sports we tend to love the underdogs, the stories of athletes persevering through life obstacles to reach the pinnacles of their respective sports. It only took me two decades but I’m jumping on the Lefty Wagon and couldn’t wish for better things to happen to a guy like Phil.

How does this sound; if at first you don’t succeed try 17 more times. That’s the amount of times it took Mickelson to get his first British Open title, but in doing so at Muirfield he joined a pretty impressive group of Hall of Famers that included Hagen, Player, Nicklaus, Trevino, Watson, Faldo and Els.

Phil, a Hall of Famer himself, now has his three Masters titles (2004, 2006, 2010), the PGA Championship (2005) and his British Open titles in the bag. He’s a U.S. Open title away from a Golf Grand Slam which only 5 other players have ever done. With this win Mickelson jumped out of a tie for 20th place in Major victories and joined a tie for 14th place. Phil is now tied with Peter Thomson, John Henry Taylor, James Braid, Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson. His next Major victory will put him in a three-way tie with Trevino and Faldo.

It’s no surprise to those who know me that I love a great glass of wine or two and much like my wine I’ve come to appreciate a hell of a pro much later in his career than most others did. With this win and not that he needed it Lefty earned himself another fan and I look forward to watching the rest of his Hall of Fame career and his march towards legend status on the PGA Tour.

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