KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — I was never cool enough to get invited to after parties, but I've heard that what goes on after a loser like me heads home is always the best part of the night. Maybe what I saw on Monday evening, as the mercury finally started to fall around the Ocean Course, qualifies as my first after-party experience.
Phil Mickelson and his caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, quietly began a practice round on the back nine around 6 p.m. Yardage books were opened and Bones gave Phil advice, pointing out where they wanted to go and what combination of clubs would most easily get them there, but the vibe was very casual.
As they walked onto the 11th tee, rowdy fans in a nearby house recognized the 2005 PGA champion and called out to him. Mickelson acknowledged them, waved, and laughed when one jumped from a terrace into a swimming pool.
"Laser me a yardage Bones, I want to hit a wedge over to them," Mickelson said.
One hundred twenty-two yards was the number, a three-quarter-swing pitching wedge shot for Phil.
He promptly dropped a ball and pitched a beautiful shot over the swamp grass and just right of the house. A moment later, cheers from the pool area could be heard and someone held the ball aloft.
"You know, if that kid had dived in the pool and gotten hurt, I'd have gotten sued," Phil laughed.
But no one got hurt. From start to finish, it all happened in about a minute. But in that minute, Mickelson created a very cool memory on a hot summer night for those of us lucky enough to see it.