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Mickelson Does It Again

January 31, 2011 - Al Stephenson
At Augusta last spring, Phil Mickelson hit the most gutsy golf shot I have ever seen. When he went for the green from between those two trees knowing he had to carry the creek in front of the green from over 200 yards away - well, breathtaking might be an understatement.

I don't know how he managed to go between the trees to start with. I would have had to close my eyes full well knowing that the odds were good that I would hit one of the trees and likely have the ball carom back off my noggin. He not only put the ball in between that small space, the shot carried over the creek and settled less than ten feet from the pin. A miraculous shot in my mind. It takes a little audacity to even try a shot like that - let alone pull it off.

That shot was the most audacious thing I have ever seen a golfer try. At least it was until yesterday, when Mickelson one-upped himself. On the 18th hole at Torrey Pines, he needed to hole out from 72 yards to force a playoff. Talk about audacity. Mickelson walked all the way up to the flag surveying the contours of the green to determine where he had to hit the ball to have a chance at making the shot.

After walking back to his ball he was given a club by his caddy. Phil then sent "Bones" (his caddy) to the green to tend the pin. TO TEND THE PIN! For those not familiar with the rules of golf, you must understand that when the pin is tended, it must be pulled before the ball can legally go in the hole. Failure to do so would result in a penalty. You should also be aware that a professional golfer knows that a ball has a better chance of going in with the pin removed - thus Mickelson's strategy.

Rarely will you see a pin tended from that far out in the fairway. In fact, I have never seen it before. What you are suggesting to all watching (and there were plenty on hand not to mention millions more on TV) is that you really think you can make this shot. He wanted to land it just short of the hole, let it take one hop and then spin it back down the slope to the cup.

Mickelson struck the shot, the ball landed near the cup, took one bounce and stopped. It did not spin back and stood staring at the hole from three feet above the cup. The shot was "master"ful and actually a little unlucky. Normally the ball would have spun back further. The chance for embarassment was high, but that would not happen on this shot. It was equally as impressive as his shot at Augusta.

I can only imagine what I would have done in that situation. Actually I know for a fact that I would not have had the pin tended. I always leave the pin in the hole on chip shots in case the gun goes off and I ram one that needs the pin to stop it from going who knows where. Most likely I would have hit the ball into Devlin's Billabong in front of the green. That is if I didn't scull the shot over the green.

The view from my seat suggests that Phil Mickelson stands alone when it comes to gumption. That's one reason he is such a fan favorite.


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