Is it time to talk Lefty Slam?
1. WHAT HAPPENED SUNDAY WAS THE BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Without a doubt. Tiger’s Escalade and escapades brought the eyes, Phil’s guts and glory delivered the prize. Golf really couldn’t have asked for a better show for golf fans and Tiger Watchers alike, the People’s Champion delivering a round and a story for the ages, and for his wife, mother and family.
Golf def. Everything else, 10 and 8.
2. WAS THE THIRD ONE BETTER THAN THE FIRST? Sure, Phil had to deal with a lot of demons and dumb questions before finally winning his first major and Masters in 2004, but that’s nothing compared to what the Mickelsons have had to deal with over the last 11 months. “I think this is going to mean more than any other win he’s had,” said his caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay.
3. HOW HIGH CAN PHIL CLIMB? Sure, it sounds crazy to even suggest that Mickelson has a chance to one day overtake Tiger Woods in the major championship department. But, considering everything that’s happened lately, isn’t it possible? Mickelson is widely considered the greatest junior golfer and college golfer of all time for two reasons: 1.) He won everything; and 2.) He played as long as could, playing in junior tournaments until he was too old, and college tournaments until he graduated. He’s only 39, remember, and has all the original cartilage in his knees. Do you really think Tiger will play 10 more years?
4. LEAP YEAR: How quickly everyone forgot the end to the 2009 season, with Mickelson winning the Tour Championship and then the HSBC Champions and then everyone’s undivided attention. Everywhere you looked last November, people were talking about how big of a 2010 season Lefty was going to have. Then he struggled out of the gates, and eventually became as big of a question mark this week as Woods. Does this mean it is now time to talk LeftySlam 2010?
5. LASTING IMAGES, PART I: Phil and Amy, locked in embrace, behind the 18th green.
6. SAID PHIL: “I don’t know if we said anything, we just hugged,” said Mickelson. “We just hugged.”
7. LASTING IMAGES, PART II: Phil and his 6-iron, raised in the air in celebration, from behind a couple trees on the par-5 13th. Mickelson tried to downplay the shot – a 6-iron from the pine straw behind two trees that flew 207 yards before settling 4 feet from the hole – but it will still probably go down as the defining moment of this Masters. Brandel Chamblee called it “maybe the greatest shot in major championship history.”
8. DEFINE ‘GREAT’: “A great shot is when you pull it off,” said Mickelson. “A smart shot is when you don’t have the guts to try it.”
9. PROOF THAT THE ‘PHIL THE THRILL’ GENE HAS BEEN PASSED ON: Mickelson’s oldest daughter had her arm in an X-ray machine around 10 o’clock Saturday night after fracturing her wrist roller-skating.
“One of the doctors here was so nice to open the X-ray machine late at night…and get a splint for her,” Mickelson said.
10. CONQUERING THE 12TH: Last year, after making the turn in 30, Lefty rinsed his shot on No. 12 and watched his hopes of winning sink, too. This year, he attacked the pin and drained a tough 15-footer for birdie, showing more raw emotion than he probably did all day. It was probably Phil’s best fist-pump to date.
11. WE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING: But we can confirm that Mickelson did not “borrow” that X-ray machine to sneak out Saturday night and get a closer look of the 12th green.
12. LASTING IMAGES, PART III: A stamen, pollen pod, leaf, or whatever the heck you want to call it, falling from out of nowhere and into Mickelson’s line mid-putt on the second green, knocking his birdie putt off line.
“You have to say, is someone out to get me today?” Mickelson said.
13. QUICK, SOMEONE MAKE A JOKE: Said legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins, via Twitter: “I’ve never seen that before, but this is only my 60th Masters.”
14. HOW THE HECK DID IT HAPPEN? While the world will probably never know, we can almost guarantee that the Greenjackets are already working on installing special infrared cameras and lasers that disintegrate anything (pollen pod, leaf, dustmite, Howard Stern paratrooper) that gets closer than 7 feet to any green.
15. AWKWARD! Three-time green jacket winner and CBS color analyst Nick Faldo, while offering his “congratulations”: “Phil, you’re now as good as me at Augusta (laughter).”
16. WOW, REALLY? Have the Golf Gods ever done anything more cruel than this: Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera were paired together Sunday, one year after Perry choked down the stretch and Cabrera won in a playoff.
17. 37 SECONDS: That’s how long it took Adam Scott’s ball to fall into the hole for eagle on the par-4 7th hole after it hit the green. Thirty-seven seconds. If you haven’t seen the highlight, find it.
18. WHAT, NO REAL MENTION OF TIGER? He had a fun hole-out for eagle on No. 7, but he also lost by five. We’re more ashamed that we didn’t mention Lee Westwood – dare we say it – currently the Best Player to Have Never Won a Major.