Tiger and Phil – 40 is the new 20

I was working on this blog post and then the unexpected happen — Jack Nicklaus tweeted exactly what I had been thinking.

Jack Nicklaus Tweet

Jack Nicklaus Tweet after the Valspar Championship

I almost decided not to publish this post but then I thought, “great minds think alike” and my take on this is slightly different from Jack’s tweet.

In the last few years, as a golf fan who loved watching Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods for so many years, it was both fun and sad watching the changing of the guard as Jordan Spieth and other young players won majors and began making their mark on the sport I love.  I do enjoy the young guns. Jordan Spieth is my favorite but it seemed odd to me to think of Phil and Tiger as “old” and to hear so many golf analysts write them off.  After all other professionals won in their forties. In fact, Jack Nicklaus won the 1986 Masters at the age of 46.

So as a fan of Phil Mickelson, I was thrilled to see him play so well in February and early March. As you can see from the chart below, he had a great run and won the World Golf Championship in Mexico.

Phil 2018 Record

Phil’s finishes in the last four PGA Tour events

Everyone knows about the turmoil (on and off the course) that Tiger Woods has faced the last few years. I will admit that although I was amazed by Tiger’s talent, I was never a Tiger fan. I was always a Phil fan. I guess it was partly because Phil seemed more approachable and nice to his fans but mostly I loved “Phil the thrill” because you never knew what golf shot Phil would try when he got into trouble.  That being said, I have now become a golf fan that hopes Tiger does achieve success in his comeback because it appears he is a changed man and everyone deserves a second chance. In his 40’s, Tiger appears grateful to be healthy and able to play golf again.

So my hope for the rest of the 2018 golf season is that 40 is the new 20! I hope Phil and Tiger contend at the majors and win. I would love to see Tiger win The Master and Phil Mickelson win The U.S. Open (the one that Phil has yet to win).

And let the summer of 2018 be a reminder to all of us that “age is just a number” and “golf is a game for life!”

 

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The great, good, bad, and the ugly at the Masters

Everyone that watched the Masters will have an opinion on moments that were great, good, bad, and ugly. There is no shortage of examples but I’ve picked one player for each category and I also share the player I believe manages to fall into all four categories.

First, the greatest moment had to be Bubba Watson on the second hole of the sudden-death playoff.  His 40-foot hook-draw shot from the trees, off the pine needles, on to the green to put himself in position to win was awesome.  Of course it ended in the most touching moment when he was embraced by his mother (normally, the wife is there to share the moment; but his wife was at home with their new baby son).

My vote for the number one good moment — the run that Matt Kucher was making on Sunday to finish with a 69.  When Kucher made an eagle on the 15th hole (par 5) and went to 4 under par it was just fun to see a player so happy.  There was no arrogance, just joy, in his response.

Unfortunately, the bad moments in professional golf tournaments are not always bad shots but bad behavior.  Tiger woods wins the bad moment award for drop-kicking his putter. Tiger later apologized but I am tired of professional athletes misbehaving and apologizing later.  These are “adults” and need to stop acting like children when something goes wrong.

My favorite player, Phil Mickelson, had the ugliest moment. His effort to try to hack the ball out of the bushes at the 4th hole resulted in a triple-bogey. What was he thinking?  I mean that would be the kind of stupid shot I would try (not because I could make it but because I am an amateur and don’t always make good decisions).  On the other hand, I’m not totally surprised by his choice. I like Phil because he is a risk taker and is exciting to watch.  Unfortunately, this time it turned out ugly.

So what could possibly be great, good, bad, and ugly?  It is the final round score card of the low Amateur, Patrick Cantlay.  Look at the card below — birdies, bogeys, double-bogeys, a quadruple-bogey, and eagles!  Most golfers would have fallen apart after what Cantlay did on the 13th and 14th holes (quadruple-bogey and double-bogey) but he turned it around on 15 with an eagle.  What a great final four holes — eagle, birdie, birdie, par!

Patrick Cantlay Score Card

Cantlay is viewed by many as the best amateur in the game right now and getting the “low amateur” trophy is a good indicator of his future. By the way, other past “low amateur” winners include Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Fantasy Golf Results: Arnold Palmer Invitational

The big news from the final Florida event is that Tiger Woods won.  Everyone is saying “He’s back” and I think it is great he has won; but I don’t think he rates the statement “He’s back” until he wins a major (which might happen in two weeks at the Masters.)

(1)  Phil Mickelson — Finished Tied for 24th place at one under par.  Now I had said I would not pick Phil until the Masters but I could not help myself because I am such a fan.  However, It is frustrating that every time I pick him, he plays poorly; and when I do not pick him, he plays well.

(2)  Jason Dufner — He played well on Thursday and Friday (66 and 69).  He did not play well on the weekend (77 and 73).  I still really like Dufner and think that once he figures out how to keep the momentum going on the weekend he will win (and win consistently).

(3)  Sean O’Hair — Finished tied for 29th at even par.  He looked great on Thursday with a 69 but then seemed to fall apart on Sunday with a 77.  Now in fairness to O’Hair the course was very hard on Sunday and only two golfers shot in the 60’s.

(4)  Harris English — My “what the heck pick this week.”  Missed the cut.

Well, the only thing I am pondering today is whether to pick Mickelson for The Masters.  If I really want my favorite player to win, it might be better if I pick someone else for Fantasy Golf.

Fantasy Golf Results: Northern Trust Open

The final round of the Northern Trust Open was so exciting. The leaders going into the final round were Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.  No one really took control of the round and by the time they hit the 18th hole both of them needed to shoot a birdie to get in a playoff with Bill Hass (who had already finished his round).  It was amazing that both Mickelson and Bradley got their birdies and they went into a sudden-death playoff with Hass.

It was Hass who got a birdie on the 2nd playoff hole to win.  Great drama!  By the way, Bradley had his own drama with criticism of his slow play and spitting on the course.  You can read my opinion in the post “Why Spit on a Golf Course?”

Now on to my results — Each week at least one of my player picks really surprises me (and it is not always a happy surprise.)

This time I was shocked that Jason Day  missed the cut.  Jeff Maggert also missed the cut but it wasn’t as big a surprise to me.  Kevin Na was also a major disappointment with a 6 over par and ranked 76.

My only shining star was Jimmy Walker and he was my “what the heck pick” and he tied for 4th at 5 under par.

Maybe the “golf gods” are teaching me a lesson for not staying with my favorite player, Mickelson, whenever he is playing.  If I had picked Lefty in his last two outings I’d be much higher in my fantasy golf rank.  But he was playing horribly and so I felt I had to bench him.

Of course the thing I like about Mickelson is you never know what he will do.  Actually his risk taking on the course is what makes him exciting to watch but it also makes him inconsistent.  Even if I don’t have him as a pick I will always be happy when he plays well because that means he is “putting on a show” for all of his fans.

Fantasy Golf Results: Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Dubai Desert Classic

The big news from the Pebble Beach Pro-Am is that Phil Mickelson, my favorite player, won.  It was a big deal for Mickelson because it marks his 40th win. Only eight other PGA players have won 40 or more times in their careers.  Plus this was the 4th time he won at this tournament.  And he won “in style” with a great come from behind victory (i.e. he was eight shots behind the leader when he started his day.)

Yet, did I have him as a pick this week?  No, because he was playing so poorly.  But I don’t care if my fantasy results suffered because it was so much fun to see Lefty playing great shots.  I’m just hoping he plays as well at the Masters (which is when I planned to consider him again for fantasy golf).  I’m now hoping “four” is Lefty’s lucky number (at least this year) because he has won the Masters three times. If he wins this year, it would be his 4th Masters.

How did my picks do?  Well, Tiger Woods did not have a good Sunday shooting a 75 (which was a shame since he was under par for the rest of the tournament).  It was a double whammy for Tiger because he was playing with Mickelson who shot a 64 (11 shots better than Tiger).   Tiger ended tied for 15th which was better than D. A. Points (tied for 67).  Both Bud Cauley and James Driscoll missed the cut and did not play on the weekend.

My Omega Dubai Desert Classic picks did much better.  Stephen Gallacher tied for 2nd (which surprised me), Rory McIlroy tied for 5th at 14 under par (a disappointment since I was sure he would win), Branden Grace tied for 51st, and Ricardo Gonzalez tied for 66th (at least Grace and Gonzalez made the cut).

Not a great week for my predictions but watching the “Phil and Tiger” show was great!

Big Names Miss Big this Week in Golf

The big news this Friday evening is not who the leaders are at the two major golf events going into the weekend but the big names that missed the cut — Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson.

Martin Kaymer missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Open. This is shocking because he is ranked #4 in the world and has won the Abu Dhabi HSBC three times in the last four years.  Many of the “golf experts” predicted he would win. Boy, am I glad I did not select him as a fantasy golf pick.

The big shock for me was Phil Mickelson.  I knew he was struggling and unfortunately had a sinking feeling when he shot a 77 on Thursday.  In his post round interview, Mickelson called his round on Thursday “pathetic.”  That’s what I like about “Lefty” — not shy about calling it like it is (good or bad).

One thing the pros always talk about is how important it is to be focused on the course. According to a San Diego Union-Tribune one of Mickelson’s daughters had a “health scare” last week.  To his credit, in the interview I watched, he did not say anything about his daughter.  He just said “Yesterday’s round was shocking to me just because my expectations were so high because I knew I was playing well.”

I will always be a big fan of Phil Mickelson and cheer for him. Hopefully he will find his game again because viewing weekend golf coverage just isn’t the same when “Lefty” is not playing.

Fantasy Golf Results – Humana

Week three and I’m going down hill fast. This week my picks did worse than the last two weeks.  But it is a long season and I can still figure this out and rebound.  I have a new strategy — no more only being “sentimental gal” picking my favorites or picking based on personal stories. Of course, I don’t know all the players so I will still have my “what the heck” pick each week.

I knew that two of my picks were wild cards but my expectations for Mickelson and Howell (or Lefty and Chucky Three Sticks) where much higher and they did not deliver. Here are the results:

(1) Phil Mickelson — Tied for 49 at 10 under par.  The first round he shot a 74 (the leaders had a round of 63 or 9 under par.)  He shot under par the next three days but he could not make up the gap between his score and the leaders.  Mark Wilson won with a final score of 24 under par.

(2) Charles Howell III — Tied for 49 at 10 under par. He just did not play as well as he had in the Sony Open.

(3) Kyle Stanley — Missed the Cut. What can I say he was my “what the heck” pick.  However, I did base my pick on a golf commentator’s review.  Clearly I picked the wrong commentator to follow.

(4) Erik Compton — Tied for 42 at 11 under par.  Well, I was cheering for him given his amazing personal story — being a double heart transplant.  He started off well with a 67, 69 in the first two rounds but needed to go low on the weekend to compete and just didn’t have it.

My biggest disappointment was Mickelson because he had won this event twice before and was the all time money leader for this event so I thought he would be (at a minimum) in the top 10.  In an interview he said it was a long season and he likes to “assess his game” in this tournament.  Wow, if I had known that assessing his game was his goal I would not have picked him.   Attitude is everything and I’m glad he is optimistic about the year but I wish he had more of a fire in him to win this tournament.