Sunday, April 11, 2010

Nice Guys Finish First

How’s that for class?

Phil Mickelson, with the hammer-close, to be greeted by his recovering cancer stricken wife and impossibly perfect children fringeside for green jacket #3.


I’ve taken my shots at Phil over the years. Phoney. Choker. Nippleson.

I’m gonna have to retire all that now, because no matter what he might do in the future to make me roll my eyes and say: “That’s it, I’m off the Phil wagon!” I’m going to have to come back to this week and remind myself what a beast he is.
On the course, and off.

Let’s be honest. We’re all jealous of Phil. We want his game, his smile, his money, his private jet, his family.

Jealousy is an ugly thing. Let’s appreciate him instead.

He’s the real deal, in every way.

He flat out dominated #’s 12, 13, 15 and 18. And to think he missed two makeable eagles in that stretch to boot.

For years, people ripped Phil for taking idiotic chances. Justifiably so. But on 13, his 6-iron from the straw was the stuff of pure champions. It was the kind of shot, full of risk and balls out with everything on the table, that will now become legend.

But had Phil lost it all on that play, or on the following holes, you know he would have lost with class. Its something that Tiger, er, Cheetah’s rehab stint has apparently failed to teach.

I just love how the entire CBS announce crew – minus Faldo, who appears to be the only rational thinker on the roster – tried to drag Cheetah’s disheveled game across the finish line on Sunday.

The hushed tones and excuses came early, as Woods bogeyed 3 of his first 6 holes.

“He’s not used to the new wedge grooves!”

“He’s exhausted from all the attention this week!”

“He’s rusty from not playing a warm up tournament!”

Funny, because these were nowhere to be found after Friday. Then, the meme was “He’s Just As Awesome As Ever!”

Then, miracle of miracles, he holes out for eagle on #7 and “zzzzziiiiiippppp!” there goes Peter Kostis’ pants!

When he birdied a stretch making the turn, you could hear the syrup in Nantz’s voice start to warm up like it was ready for the pancakes.

Then the idiotic flubbed 2-footer on #14 essentially excused anybody who needed to leave the set for supper.

Even after Cheetah’s eagle on #15, David Feherty couldn’t quite muster once again the nerve to imply that he was now again, “back in it.”

From the first nuclear snap-pull on #1 Sunday, through every pop up, chunker, yip and tree-clang, it was pretty clear that Woods was nowhere near in form to win the tournament. Forget how many shots he was behind at any moment, it was the multitude of world class players between him and the top of the leaderboard that mattered.

They weren’t all going to choke.

(SIDE NOTE: I don’t know what the “rules” are regarding how to list golfers who are TIED for a score on a television leaderboard, but when was the last time Tiger ever was tied with several golfers, but was NOT floated to the top of that list? Ever? I didn’t see that happen ONCE on CBS all weekend.)

But CBS made sure to play up the Tiger Is The Terminator angle because they know it keeps the extra 40% of non-golf-playing viewers stuck to the set.

Which made it alternately amusing or annoying for those of us who actually have hit a large bucket of stripers in our life and know when a guy is not going to win.

The shame was how it sucked the life out of every other story line, and denied a more proper focus on the final group of Mickelson and Westwood.

Had Cheetah somehow done what only Kostis and Co. go to sleep dreaming about and charged to victory on the back nine, it would have been the most disgraceful major winning performance ever.

Woods was a surly, whiny lot the entire way around.

To think he could finish as high as he did – with a duct taped swing, and body language that reminded parents of their 6 year old after getting denied at the supermarket checkout – only underscores how mentally unprepared he was to play this week.

Mentally… un….pre….pared.

Any decent golf coach would have scolded their player for acting like Woods did, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the profanities – although those were egregious as well.

When you “pop up” a drive like on #2, but it still goes 300 yards, don’t piss and moan like another mistress just came out and gave an exclusive to the Enquirer.

Stomp ahead, and bear down. Negative thoughts, breed negative emotions, which turn into negative body language and ultimately chumped sand shots.

Who the hell would want to cheer for a guy like that?

Where was the fierce dignity, the quiet determination, the lazer like focus, and the humble acceptance that this tournament might not be one in which he played his best?

Where, oh where, was Buddha?

And where was the television analyst with the balls to say what was obvious. His physical game is a long way from being right, but his mental game is even worse!

Could you imagine how Woods would have reacted to that “rogue stamen” that flew in from Decatur on a wind zephyr to land impossibly in Phil’s line on #2? My god, he would have exploded. Phil just shrugged and moved on.

Championship attitude.

Tiger’s post-round chat with Kostis pretty much sealed the deal. “People are making way too much of this” Cheetah explained when asked if he let his emotions sink his round.

Wrong answer. The question was did your tantrums hurt your performance, not “do you agree with what they are saying about you in the press?”

How much could Woods have re-habbed his image if he had just screwed on a pair of pursed lips and said afterward: “My swing is a wreck, but it was just great to be back out there in contention. I’m lucky to do this for a living, and I can’t wait for my next event. I’ll get it fixed, but all things considered, it was a helluva week.”

Never mind.

He’s the same guy.

Only Tiger’s image was totaled in that car crash. The guy who plays golf in the swoosh hat was largely unscathed.

He’s a total dick. Now we can drop any pretense.

If you like that kind of thing, then you can root for him all the way to Jack’s record. The rest of us will enjoy players with less talent, but far more class, step up to wax his ass like they did on Sunday.


  1. Yeah what lasted longer, Tiger's promise that he was a new golfer on the course, that he'd be friendly, no more cussing or club slamming...

    or any Obama promise :)

  2. I was feeling the same way about him WAYYYYY before we found out about his personal life... Never have liked his on course BS!

  3. I've always been a Phil fan. At the PGA in Twin Cities last summer, Phil stood and signed autographs for 60+ minutes after his practice round on Wednesday. He was happy, polite and A+ class. It was CRAZY hot and he just kept signing. My son got an autograph and I was way more excited than he was.

    Tiger yeling 'JC' after one of his terrible drives. I thought he was buddhist? Shouldn't he be taking the name of one of his dudes in vain. Leave my man, JC, out of this. All of his smirking and attitude that we all thought were his steely desire and resolve were really signs that he's just a mindless, snobby, jerk. I was never a Tiger hater. I am now. Way moreso after watching his demeanor and lack of any visible change on the course this weekend than after fake presser and confession.

    Today at Augusta, good triumphed in America. Is there any way Phil and his family and his attitude could be more different than Tiger and his family and his attitude? Way to go, Phil!

  4. Not a big golf fan, but I tuned in today just to root against Tiger. It's kind of like rooting against the Yankees or Duke. I didn't know about Phil's wife having cancer. Him winning and hugging his family was a feel good story if there ever was one. Of course, stuff like that won't make TMZ.

  5. Cheetah should also be lambasted for letting his bag ape strut around like Tom Jones at a debutante ball. Button up already! I haven't seen a carpet like that since touring the rumpus room at House on the Rock!

  6. not sure about the "etiquette" or rule for the leaderboard issue, either. i THOUGHT it was whichever golfer had moved up to that group (via a birdie or better) would be listed first. i don't think it's ever been alphabetical. regardless, my dad noticed it and said they do it for him all the time, although he has never been a fan of the cheetah.

  7. Mickelson went bogey free and had brass balls on 13, Westwood was trying to lockdown a major, KJ Choi was bearing down on Mickelson until he choked it away on 13, Couples making a run and Anthony Kim explodes from out of nowhere to make a run, and the overload of Tiger crap was ridiculous. All of the aforementioned were jobbed because of Tiger's desperate theatrics and the commentators trying to manufacture needless drama... there was plenty of compelling golf without dragging Tiger in to it

    Funny thing, hope you caught Faldo saying that Mickelson "Is now as good as me..." Good to see that Faldo is still a douche

  8. I don't believe there is a formal rule about the order of listing golfers who share the same score, and of course the networks want the bigger name at the top. As far as how the order works for tee times the next round, the golfer who finishes and posts the score first, is considered "ahead".

  9. So how long until the Mickelson /black stripper love child or MJ and Amy Mickelson affair hits the mainstream.....Both were top google searches last evening....Mickelson swingers parties were also in the "news"....should be interesting

  10. I opened the article - happy to think I was going to read about Phil - and shame on you Czabe - you had to bring Tiger back into it - i think you used more words on Woods than Phil - lets honor Phil's week by NOT TALKING ABOUT TIGER. I don't particularly like Phil or hate Tiger - but jeez - but this was PMs day!

  11. I can't believe I'm actually about to do this, because the guy is an ass, but I'm going to stand up for Tiger Woods. I guess more than that, I'm standing up against all the hypocrites out there.

    Yes, Tiger is a dick. This concept shouldn't come as an all-time newsflash, but those few people on the face of the earth who are the elite of whatever it is they do, often have shortcomings and constant missteps in their personal life. It doesn't matter the profession. Golfers, doctors, lawyers, whoever...that tiny fraction of a percentage of the best of the best, are that good because they can't compartmentalize and appropriately balance the different aspects of their lives.

    Everyone who wants to marvel in the majesty of Tiger racking off feats like four major titles in a row, but then turn around and bitch about him exploding after a bad shot, should either can it, or go find something else to watch. The pursuit of perfection and the hot head temper go hand in hand.

    Comparing Tiger to Phil is apples to oranges. They both play professional golf. It ends there. You won't see Phil throw a fit and slam his club head on the tee box after a bad drive, but you won't likely see him win any more than one third the number of major championships as Tiger...which would still be one hell of a career, mind you.

    Some strive for perfection, some strive to be good enough to win. You can argue the merits of either mindset. The bottom line is that Phil was good enough to win this weekend. However, Tiger reappeared on golf's biggest stage, amongst the game's elite, with his entire personal life in total shambles, and yet only three men performed better than him over the course of the championship. That's nothing short of incredible.

    Phil is a better person than Tiger. If I had to choose one of the two to be a friend of my family, and hang out for backyard cookouts, there's no question it's Phil. That's not what this is about. Call me crazy, but I watch sports for the sports. I don't give a damn about your wives, girlfriends, strippers, or hookers.

  12. amazing that no one is talking about TW's doosh-bagginess on 14. have a look at the replay, and notice how TW is moving behind Choi during his putt, and how TW's shadow crosses both Choi's line and ball during the stroke. can you imagine the controversy if those roles were reversed?? just a complete lack of respect for the game and his playing partner. so much for the "new and improved" TW - he acted like a petulant child the whole round on Sunday. here's to a missed cut at Pebble!

  13. I'd like to know who "waxed his ass"?? He was 11 under par. Go look back thru the winning scores past and see that score would have won more than lost. If he was 1 or 2 under, or ever over par, i could see taking shots at him.

  14. Tiger is Tiger

    A Dick and the best player in the world. You have to have that level of arrogance to be that good. Honestly he looked like the worst player in your weekend foursome and came in tied for fourth. Don't look to professional sports stars to be your role models. They aren't. Not even Saint Phil ... and he would be the first to tell you that.

    Phil flat out rocked, but I am still going to watch Tiger because he redefines the sport with every swing.

    I want Tiger to win at Pebble so the story line is no longer will he win since "it" happened and we can just watch golf.

    Ali was hated.
    Jorden was a dick.
    Bird was the dirtiest player in the NBA not named Phil Lambeer.
    Jack practically had an Army lynch him.

    The best is not there to be loved, just feared.

  15. The order of golf scores should be listed as the first to post the score. This is because the pairings for the next day are decided this way.

    (For example if 3 players are tied for the lead at the end of the third round, the first two to post are in the final group.)

    Yes CBS did it wrong to always list Tiger.

  16. czabe,

    I just love how you change your opinion just for the "flavor of the month". This is the same guy who continually slammed PM and always was the first to jeer him on the radio. You were also the one to just admire and sit back in amazement of Tiger's dominance in golf saying you were a fan of it. Now Phil wins in great fashion, and sure enough...Czabe is now a Phil-lover and bashing Tiger like he is your child. The same Czabe who ALWAYS acts professional right? The same Czabe who FSN thought Stephen A Smith was more compelling...right.

    Yeah that field really waxed his ass alright. He finished fourth

  17. Czabe-

    While I agree that Tiger is a world-class douche, and always has been, I believe there is a side to this discussion that you are missing.

    I have a close friend who worked the Greater Milwaukee Open (and US Bank Chamipionship as it was re-named) for a number of years getting on-course yardage. My friend has spent plenty of time around the players inside the ropes. He compares Phil Mickelson to Don Johnson's character in Tin Cup. Puts on a great face in front of the cameras and comes of as a great guy, family man, etc., when in reality he is a total jag.

    In my limited interactions with Mickelson at the GMO and Western Open, I didn't really have much of an opinion either way. However, what we need to focus on is that we don't know who any of these guys really are, and that you are just one phone call recording away from the other shoe being dropped.