Open Championship 2013 blog: magical Mickelson
GREAT Open, nearly fantastic but, disappointingly, it lacked that final piece of drama. Plenty of bang for three and a threequarter days and then a bit of a whimper.
Actually a lot of whimper but this low noise came from the collective groaning of Lee Westwood, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott each of whom had the chance to win this Open, each of whom made a mess of it. This was partly because Muirfield was tough but mostly because mone of them was tough enough when big push came to enormous shove.
Westwood started like the yeoman he so often is but then began to crumble a bit, his ambition brought low by his high desire to win one of these flipping things. Johnson and Cabrera flirted with the possibility of victory and then piushed it away. Tiger putted poorly while Scott lived up to his vow never again to fall apart over the closing holes as he did last year. Instead he folded a few holes earlier this time.
Meanwhile Phil Mickelson was enjoying what he now describes as the best moments of his career. Good luck to him. The American has worked hard to adapt his game to links golf, has asked the greats how it’s done, has practised and worked. In theory he should have been perfect for a stage that requires more imagination and creativity than any other but now it has worked out in practice for him.
A final round of 66, only the second of the week (Zach Johnson opened with one) is good enough to win any major. Factor in the other stat that he birdied four of the last six holes on a closing stretch that is as forgiving as an irritated mother-in-law and the Calidornian deserves everything he now has.
What he has, of course, is five majors, three Masters, a PGA and now the biggest of them all. Only the US Open remains as a target and he has been runner-up six times in that.
Talking about runner-up…what now for Westwood? This was a gilt-edged chance for a maiden victory, leader after three rounds with a brace of shots between him and the field. For six holes he was solid but then he flashed his ball into a bunker at the third, found the lip and his carefull barricaded world began to crumble.
It was all a pity for while this may not be his last chance it is hard to see where the next one is coming from and how he will cope with it. His one consolation is that he has just turned 40 while Mickelson is 43. There is not a great deal of time left for the Englishman but, clearly, there is some. I hope so anyway.