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Monday, June 19, 2006

Painful Ending at Winged Foot

One of the most tired cliches is about how people love to watch a car crash or a train wreck; they say they don't want to watch, but they can't tear themselves away from it. Some people actually go to NASCAR in hopes of seeing a crash. I don't understand that mentality.

Yesterday's crash and burns by Mickelson, Monty, Furyk, and Harrington were awful to watch. I was in shock, in pain, and nearly ill watching them botch it up down the stretch of the U.S. Open. As an amateur hack, I have done what those guys did many times. Maybe that's why it hurt so much to watch.

However, when I do it, there's little or nothing on the line. For each of those top players, especially Phil and Monty, there was a ton on the line. And the worst part about it was that their errors were more mental than physical.

All Monty had to do was get down in three from the fairway. He seized up and blocked it short and right. It was a bad place to miss. However, he still could have managed a spot in a playoff. His brain got in the way, and he three-putted to put himself out of the playoff. It was a terrible mental gaffe. He looked like he thought he had to one-putt it to have a chance. He was not thinking straight. His U.S. Open experience should have made him think properly, but I guess the pressure got the better of him. I felt really sorry for Colin.

Phil was even worse. His tee shot on 18 could have been OB if they weren't playing a tournament. He slices it off a hospitality tent on the 72nd hole?? C'mon!! Even your worst hacker wouldn't have hit it that far off line. You could argue that it was a bad swing, and thus it was a physical error. But, he should have backed off and hit 4-wood. Mental error #1.

Mental error #2 came when he tried to slice his second shot around a tree instead of pitching it safely onto the fairway. Had he lain up, he most likely would have done no worse than bogey, securing himself a spot in a playoff with Ogilvy. Better yet, he would have given himself a decent shot at par and an outright victory. Instead, he ripped it into the bunker and couldn't get up and down for the tie. It was agonizing.

Collapses happen all the time in sports. But in golf, it's just you against yourself. Phil, Monty, Furyk, and Harrington didn't really lose to Winged Foot or Geoff Ogilvy, they lost to themselves.


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