Senior writer Alex Miceli, affectionately known as the Bulldog, will be in England and Scotland for nearly a month and will be keeping you updated with his latest tidbits in a daily blog for Golfweek. Here is his July 21 installment . . .
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GULLANE, Scotland – I’m sitting in the media center Sunday night. All the work for me is finally done, but my colleagues are going to be a while, so I thought it would be worthwhile to chronicle the day.
Today was one of the best major championship Sundays I’ve ever experienced. Seeing Phil Mickelson win a major championship that everyone – and I mean everyone – said he couldn’t is fantastic.
Of course he now can inherit the nickname of Sam Snead Jr., because Snead won three of the four majors with the exception of the U.S. Open. Snead’s four runner-up finishes in the American championship fall short of Mickelson’s six, including this year’s disappointment at Merion.
It must be clear from the broadcast in the U.S. that Muirfield was as hard and fast as anyone has ever seen of a links course, including Hoylake in 2006 when Tiger Woods used irons instead of woods off the tee and was in complete control.
Mickelson didn’t have complete control, but his back-nine 32 was as good as it gets.
I was standing next to Steve Loy, Mickelson’s agent for as long as he has been a pro. We both watched as Lefty’s final approach shot just skirted the left greenside bunker and finished 15 feet above the hole.
Loy looked in the air, looked at me and said “Its about time we get a break.”
Consequently, when Francesco Molinari hit a similar shot to Mickelson’s, the Italian’s suffered a different fate with his shot turning left versus right and found the bunker.
Loy was right: Mickelson has had some bad luck in majors and finally he found some good luck.
A final-round 66 is unheard of in major championships. Mickelson’s was maybe even better than the score considering how difficult the course played, especially the back nine – but Tiger Woods was unimpressed.
Woods was asked that, given the conditions, how impressive was Phil’s 66?
“It’s certainly gettable out there. The greens are slower and if you have, I guess, the feel to hit it far enough up there into the greens, you can get it done,” Woods said. “You can shoot between 3 and 5 under par today. But it’s having the confidence to throw it far enough in there, because all week they’ve been bouncing over, if you threw it that deep.
“Evidently he got a pretty good feel for it and made a few putts.”
Jim “Bones” Mackay, Mickelson’s caddie, was emotional and talked about how well Mickelson played. He said thinings like it’s the best round of Mickelson’s career and how well he had been playing since Quail Hollow in May.
Butch Harmon talked about how Mickelson was a little out of sorts and they worked on his tempo before the round. I guess it worked.
If things would have gone just a little differently and Mickelson could have handled the short, par-3 13th hole at Merion, the career Grand Slam would be his.
As I usually do during the final round of the Open Championship I break out my camera and take some pictures. It’s usually a bit of free for all, but it’s fun and I like having the mementos for the day when I won’t be making the annual pilgrimage to the Home of Golf.
On Monday I’m getting a chance to play Muirfield with Anthony ‘Tony’ Jacklin CBE, the English golfer who won the 1969 Open Championship and the 1970 U.S. Open.
Jacklin also captained two winning European Ryder Cup teams in 1985 and 1987.
– My next Bulldog’s Blog will be from Royal Birkdale during the Senior British Open.