WHO: Phil Mickelson
WHAT: 72-yard wedge to four feet
WHEN: Final round of the Farmers Insurance Open
WHERE: 520-yard par 5 18th hole at Torrey Pines
On Sunday evening I was watching the Farmers Insurance Open with my two sons, who are on the golf team at Maryland. We were all going crazy when the announcers said that Mickelson might be telling his caddie to walk to the green and tend the flag at 18. Mickelson needed to hole his lob wedge for an eagle to tie Watson, who’d just finished at 16 under par.
“That’s stupid,” I yelled.
“If he really wants to make it, then it’s a good idea,” said Stephen, a junior at Maryland. “What else should Phil do?”
“But who really thinks he’s going to make it?” I said.
“Phil thinks he can make it,” said Stephen.
Amazingly, Mickelson almost holed the shot. The ball landed a foot from the hole, took a big bounce forward, spun back a little and stopped four feet above the hole. I don’t think there’s another player on Tour who would’ve had his caddie tend the flag like Mickelson did at 18. But in retrospect, it doesn’t surprise me that Mickelson did that. It’s typical Mickelson, and it was a lot of fun to watch.
THE DRILL: There are two common problems with the half to three-quarter lob wedge:
1. Players take the club back way too far in the backswing.
2. Players slow down and decelerate through impact.
The result is hardly ever good.
The keys with this shot are to shorten your backswing, going half or two-thirds the way back, and to have a nice and constant acceleration through impact that leads you to an almost complete finish.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Steve Bosdosh is the director of instruction at The Members Club at Four Streams in Beallsville, Md.