Fail of the Week 6

July 19, 2011

This week’s FAIL goes to our American golfers at the British Open, Phickelson and DJ. American golf has been hurting for the last several years (since Tiger’s surgery and subsequent tree-driving incident). We count on the big hitters, and they continually let us down.

Dustin Johnson has had chances at last year’s US Open, last year’s PGA, and this year’s British Open. But last year, he choked away the US Open with a final-round 82. Then he failed to read the rules and incurred a 2-shot penalty for grounding his club, taking him out of a playoff with headcase Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer, eventual winner. And this year, for some reason he just couldn’t keep himself from jacking his second shot OB to the right on a par 5 at the Open Championship, again incurring a 2-shot penalty and again losing a major for it. Although Darren Clarke definitely won the championship, DJ had a shot to put pressure on him; when the ball went out of bounds, Clarke was looking at a 4-shot lead with 5 holes, which is doable even for a hacker like me.

However, the bigger disappointment had to be Phil “Phickelson” Mickelson. Mickelson shot a five under par front nine of 30 (see http://sports.yahoo.com/golf/pga/players/Phil+Mickelson/29/scorecard/2011/29). He had birdies on holes 2, 4, 6, and 10 and an eagle on 7. He sat at -6 for the round on the 11th tee box when the lights went out. For some reason, Phickelson rushed his 2-footer for par 3 on the 11th and bogeyed, sending him into a tailspin, thereafter bogeying 13, 15, and 16 and failing to make birdies on some of the easiest holes on the course (14 and 17). It was like he was a different golfer after the 3-putt–and, really, for no reason other than his own head got in the way. For all the tournaments Phil has won, the old choker is still lurking in there.

Once again, American golf comes up short. So, to you Phil and DJ, you are this week’s FAIL.

Play of the Week 19

July 18, 2011

This week’s POTW goes to Darren Clarke, champion of the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. Clarke fired a final-round even par 70 to capture the Claret Jug, winning in style by 3 shots of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.

The 42-year old Clarke was playing in his 20th Open. After losing his wife to breast cancer, Clarke was the sentimental favorite. He played very consistent golf all day long, smiling and laughing for much of a final round that, at times, was very tense. Even though American Phil Mickelson caught him at one point during the round, Clarke played cool and collected golf, hitting countless artful shots to save pars, capture birdies, and distance himself from the field.

Moreover, Clarke is the kind of guy golf needs. Rarely do golfers seem like regular human beings, but here is Clarke: 42 years old, drinking a Guinness at the post-championship press conference and talking about how the champs back in N. Ireland would be pissing drunk. When interviewed about the Irish Open, Clarke said “I may not be sober, but I will be in Killarney.” He’s not a physical specimen, he doesn’t hit the ball 3,000 yards, and he doesn’t wear a size 30 pants–in fact, after working out to get into shape, his agent told him he played better when he was fat! He’s a regular guy, and that’s something we can all get into.

So here’s to you Darren. Have a Guinness–or 100–and enjoy your trophy. You’ve earned it.

Also, the PF would like to give a mini-POTW shout out to Dr. Bob Rotella, sports psychologist. Dr. Bob is the author of several books on the mental aspect of the game of golf, including Golf is Not a Game of Perfect. LG and I have both benefited greatly from Rotella’s take on the game, and Dr. Bob was mentioned during the Open broadcast for his Wednesday conversation with Darren Clarke. It paid off. Here’s to you.