What a loser Phil Mickelson is. The champ chump. Gagger Vance.
Yeah, so he skis double-black-diamond slopes. And is licensed to fly jets. And cashes more sports book winners than any boiler room full of 1-900 experts. But he has never won a major, and it just pisses you off.
He may be 0 for 38 in majors, but he has finished second twice and third three times, and even got beat by a guy who decided to play a 227-yard par-3 in one. And he's ranked No. 2 in the world behind possibly the greatest golfer who's ever lived, but he has never won the Masters, and that just chaps you.
True, he's the one who signs autographs 10 minutes past forever. He's the one with the manners of Jeeves and the charm of Bond, the one who looks more people in the eye than an optometrist. Once, in an all-out monsoon, he stopped the courtesy car he was riding in with his caddie and his wife, ran out in the rain, popped the trunk, got out his golf umbrella and gave it to a homeless guy slumped on a corner. But he has never won the U.S. Open, so screw him.
O.K., he's the guy who unfailingly shows up to face the nastiest questions—all the ones about what a loser he is for beating 154 guys but not 155. He gives his unblinking answers from the heart, even though he knows that they can and will be used against him later. How bad do you want this Masters, Phil? "Desperately," he answers. But does it happen? No. So we trot out "desperately" like a mirror to remind him of how he has failed himself.
Oh, he has won golf tournaments. Won 20 times on the PGA Tour. But none of them were the four tournaments some golf writer dreamily referred to as the "grand slam" on a slow column day, so he has failed all of us.
So what if he's a witch who does things to a golf ball that would have had him burned at the stake 300 years ago? So what if he's more fun to watch than demolition derby? So what if he had his layup gene removed at birth, which means he's the matador in Footjoys that golf so badly needs? He has never won the British Open, so he's lamer than Lawrence Welk.
Yeah, the dude's cooler than a penguin's freezer. Plays baccarat in Vegas. Slam-dunked a ball off a tramp at halftime of a Phoenix Suns game. One time he landed a Cessna twin engine with the instruments out. The three other people in the plane practically chewed off their armrests while Mickelson never got a hair out of place. But he has never won the PGA, so he's pure Alpo.
Everything about him torques you off. He has more money than Peru. He married a Suns dancer so gorgeous she'd make a bishop bite his hat, and they have two gorgeous kids, so after 9/11 he just dropped everything to focus on them—and you said he must be yellow.
He's Indiana Jones, the guy who would rather walk around the building's ledge than take the hallway. He loves the juice, needs the action and doesn't care what it costs him. "If I try to just hit fairways with irons, hit the middle of greens, it's no fun," Mickelson says. And so, as at Bay Hill three weeks ago, he'd rather try to punch-cut a choke-down four-iron 180 yards off bark, under limbs and over agua than chip out, because the only thing worse than losing is being bored.