#AskAlan: Will Phil Mickelson ever win again?

February 22, 2017

Welcome to another edition of #AskAlan…Please keep the thoughtful questions coming…

“Will Phil Mickelson win a tournament ever again?” — S. Dunne (@warmheart_88)

The cruel thing about golf is that you never know when you’ve had your last victory. Phil has been playing at such a high level for the last 31/2 years, and yet he hasn’t been able to get it done. Think about some of the guys who have won on Tour in that stretch; Mickelson has way more game than many of them. But winning is a delicate, ephemeral thing. Arnold Palmer perfectly expressed the capriciousness in a 2011 interview with Charlie Rose: “Once you vary, and you lose that thing … What is it? Sometimes it’s hard to put in place. What is it? I’m not sure I know. I’m not sure Jack knows. … Can you get it back, can you get that thing you can’t put your finger on and get hold of it and choke it and keep it? Boy, that’s a tough deal. … It could be a psychological thing. You say, ‘Well, I’ve done it.’ Then you say, ‘I want to do it again.’ But it isn’t there. You can’t find it. You can’t grasp it. You can’t hold on to it.”

It’s hard to image Phil will never win again. He’s done it. He wants to do it again. But can he find it and grasp it and hold on to the magic that has carried him to 42 Tour wins? I’m not so sure.

“What is your favorite hole at Augusta and why?” — Ryan (@Therealsneek1)

I love standing behind the 3rd green, because you get to see a lot of fun, funky approach shots and can also peep the tee shot on 4. I’m a big fan of No. 5, because it’s a tough drive and a crazy green and that hole is never crowded. Laying in the grass on the hill below the tee at the par-3 6th used to be one of my fave spots, but it’s become too jammed up with seats and assorted jabronis. Still, it’s fun to watch the shots into that green as well as the putts on 16, which is adjacent. Standing behind the 7th green used to be more fun before the hole was stretched out because guys were hitting shorter clubs and could more effectively feed the ball down the slope; still, it’s a great vantage point, and now there are more chips and pitches, all of which require a sound understanding of gravity and geometry. Few fans make the trek to the 11th tee, and it’s a heckuva view from back there—the tee shot is so scary, and it’s a nice intimate spot. The amphitheater behind the 12th tee is quite grand, but the players are so far away while putting it’s tough spectating. I love the 13th hole, but it’s become too short for most of the pros, taking some of the excitement away. No, my favorite hole at Augusta National is the 15th. The second at the par-5 is the ultimate do-or-die shot; it seems like the ball is in the air forever, and the suspense is agonizing. Those who bail out long face one of the toughest pitches on the planet. I spend much of Masters week in the back row of the grandstand left of the green, which allows me to turn around and look down on the tee shots at the par-3 16th. Golf heaven.

“What are odds that DJ is actually the one tweeting from his own Twitter account?” — Anna (@AnnaH247)

Very close to zero.

“Do you feel bad for Joe LaCava?” — Sean (@Sean_Zak)

Given that he has a salary well into six figures and only has to work a few weeks a year, nah, I really don’t! Of course, LaCava could be on Dustin’s bag and enjoying another run like he had with Freddy circa 1992, but I don’t think he has any regrets. And if LaCava suddenly feels ambitious, he will have zero trouble finding a bag with a talented up-and-comer.

“If you were commissioner for a day, how would you improve the telecast? My kids love golf but can’t watch it for one minute.” — Chad (@KennyDaGambler)

1. All players and caddies must wear microphones, and their dialogue supersedes that of any paid commentator.
2. Tap-ins shall never be shown…unless they’re missed.
3. If the CEO of the title sponsor is interviewed in the 18th hole tower, we all get a free car.
4. ProTracer is mandatory for every tee shot.
5. Any fan who yells “Mashed potato” or other such nonsense will be taken to a guillotine behind the 18th green, and their execution will be shown live and then replayed with the Konika Minolta BizHub SwingVision.
6. Players are hooked up with heart monitors on Sundays.
7. Mandatory on-course interviews for the leaders, particularly after they’ve made bogey.
8. No question in said interview may begin with, “Talk about…”
9. Kelly Rohrbach shall be given a sponsor’s exemption to every tournament.

“Guess I actually need to be serious to make the cut so what chances do you give [Gary] Woodland winning a major this season? #AskAlan” — Chris (@ctimmerman)

I was deeply impressed with his play at the Clambake. Woodland couldn’t buy a putt over the first two rounds but just kept grinding, and then on the weekend he caught fire, torching Pebble for 16 birdies en route to rounds of 67-65 and a tie for fifth. When Woodland won his first PGA Tour event, the 2011 Transitions Championship, he took only 23 putts on Sunday. So clearly if his putter turns molten like that, he could overpower any course. Erin Hills, site of the U.S. Open, will play very long, and Quail Hollow will feel like a regular Tour event when it hosts the PGA Championship. That bodes well for a guy like Woodland. But given that he has only two career victories and zero top 10s in the majors it’s hard to imagine him breaking through. Yet.

“Best 18 holes across Pebble, Spyglass, and Cypress? #AskAlan” — Kevin (@vedderkj)

Oooooh, I like this one. To make it more interesting, I decided the holes have to keep their actual number, so of the three opening holes, clearly I’m taking No. 1 at Spyglass. I also wanted to bring it home in a total par close to 72. Let the disagreements begin:

No. 1 Spyglass, par-5
No. 2 Cypress Point, par-5
No. 3 Spyglass, par-3
No. 4 Spyglass, par-4
No. 5 Pebble Beach, par-3
No. 6 Pebble Beach, par-5
No. 7 Pebble Beach, par-3
No. 8 Pebble Beach, par-4
No. 9 Pebble Beach, par-4
No. 10 Pebble Beach, par-4
No. 11 Cypress Point, par-4
No. 12 Cypress Point, par-4
No. 13 Cypress Point, par-4
No. 14 Spyglass Hill, par-5
No. 15 Cypress Point, par-3
No. 16 Cypress Point, par-3
No. 17 Cypress Point, par-4
No. 18 Pebble Beach, par-5

Total par: 72
Joy this course would bring you: infinite