likes to say of her husband, "With Phil, it's all about the fun." With
Phil, it's all about the numbers, too. Both Phils were on display last week at
On Friday afternoon Numbers Phil was predicting that the winning score of this
year's tournament would be over par. Fun Phil spent hours hanging out in the
Augusta National clubhouse, often with his green jacket on, using
"mister" in conversations with the older members, giving soul shakes to
the locker-room attendants who stopped to greet him.
Numbers Phil was thinking, even after a front-nine 40 on Sunday, that if he
could play home in 30, get himself in at four over par, he might have a chance
of winning his third Masters and second in a row. Fun Phil chatted with the
winner, Zach Johnson, all through the awards ceremony, like a schoolboy in an
On display at
Augusta, for all to see, was the sum total of Phil: Fun Phil, Numbers Phil and
the Phil who can handle losing about as well as winning. He's plenty
experienced at both. At least this time he didn't have to put the winner's
jacket on Tiger Woods, as he has had to do once before, in 2005.
Tiger, of course,
has changed the way we look at other elite golfers. We expect them to be
machines. The truth is, others-- Mickelson included--win only when all the
pieces of their game fall into place. Phil, especially, can't do the machine
When he came off
the 18th green on Sunday, all Gary Playered out (black shoes, black socks,
black slacks, black belt, black shirt, black hat, glistening teeth), he did a
brief interview with Peter Kostis of CBS. The two men have known each other for
years, but that didn't stop Kostis from asking a real question.
critics will say you still haven't recovered from Winged Foot. To that end, did
that play any part at all, whatsoever?"
your performance this week."
don't see the correlation."
was rooted in a modern fixation, trying to guess when a player is finished. Why
not let the guy play out his career and see what happens? Mickelson is 36.
He'll likely have 30 or 40 more majors in which he'll still be competitive. His
game--to say nothing of his nature--doesn't lend itself to being in contention
time and again, the way Tiger's does. For one thing Mickelson drives it too
crookedly. For another, he's always so busy reinventing himself and the
composition of his bag. His energy level comes and goes, as does his short
putting. But you'd be a fool to bet against a player with such lavish talent
and such big ideas. Soon after hitting a low, screaming drive on 15 at Augusta
on Sunday, he was talking about how useful that shot will be at the British
Open at Carnoustie in July.
What Phil really
thinks of Tiger, we don't know, but he has figured out a graceful way to handle
the public Tiger-versus-Phil discussion. In his pretournament press conference
Mickelson repeated a line he used successfully with a writer from ESPN the
Magazine: "If I have a great rest of my career, and I go out and win 20
more tournaments and seven more majors to get to 50 wins and 10 majors, which
would be an awesome career, I still won't get to where he's at today. So I
don't try to compare myself against him." You have to admit, that's really