Teed Off (18-11-2007)

Update: November, 19/2007 - 00:00



with Robert Bicknell

Before I start this week’s column, the funniest line I ever heard to describe Jim Furyk’s golf swing is... "it resembles an octopus falling out of a tree." I believe that was coined by David Feherty, but I’m not sure. Still... a very funny line.


What a difference a week makes could become the rallying cry for Phil Mickelson, but in truth, it should be "what a difference a change of climate makes.

Mickelson suffered a literal meltdown the week before at the Barclay’s tournament in Singapore due to the heat and humidity, then rallied to pick up a "hard-fought" win in China the following week.

The difference was the weather.

I would be the first one to agree that some players simply perform better under different conditions than others. Personally speaking, this time of year in Ha Noi is my peak playing condition. Other times of the year it is either too hot or too cold for me to play well.

When it gets to the point where I have to trade in the sweater for a jacket, its time to put the clubs into the closet for the year.

This was not the case when I was younger as I loved all seasons, hot, cold and muddy... especially muddy. Yet as you get older, your body changes a bit and cannot handle extreme temperatures as easily as it used to.

Carrying extra poundage doesn’t exactly help matters either.

I think another difference is the transition season because in New England, we have a few months of spring and autumn, whereas in Ha Noi the transition is about six hours... so you really never have time to slowly adapt.

Now, I put the words "hard-fought" in quotes earlier because the only person Mickelson was fighting against was himself after dropping five shots over the last seven holes, including one into the lake off the tee on 18, before finishing with a bogey and a 76.

Mickelson also got a little help from the official, who was too busy taking a pee to notice how slow their group was. They already got a warning at the 5th hole and could’ve easily received another one on the 13th when Mickelson took his sweet time hacking his way to a double bogey.

But he really should’ve gotten nailed after taking almost five minutes to decide what to do on the 15th green. After looking at the putt from every angle, Mickelson finally opted to hit a flop-shot from the green’s surface to the flagstick, which was way down at the bottom slope.

When watching it, all I could think of was some of our slower players here using it as a justification for their own slow play on the greens.

"Hey, Mickelson took five minutes to hit that shot in the tournament in China, so why are you in my face for taking three minutes to play mine?"

I really hesitate to say "the fix was in" because we all know that’s not the case, but rather a poor choice of decisions by some of the officials.

Such as when Vijay Singh, who finished tied fifth, was allowed to take what many believe was an incorrect penalty drop on the 18th hole during the third round.

His second shot landed in water some 30 yards right of the green but at no time did it cross the fairway, yet the officials allowed him to take a drop 90 yards from the flag but more than 150 yards from a spot further down the hole from where he should have played the penalty shot.

Sweden’s Niclas Fasth was so pissed off about it that he made the point during his last round of going over to study the position where Singh had been on the 18th a day earlier.

Such is life. Officials are human too...

Jeff Puchalski reminded me that "dropping shots and then battling back is what makes a champion" and I would normally agree, except when it involves Mickelson. There’s just something about this guy that aggravates me.

If you want to talk about "championship spirit, Westwood’s final-round 67 included six inward-nine birdies and four in succession from the 13th.

I’d like to see what Mickelson could do at the Gannon Viet Nam Open Championship in Phan Thiet...

He’d melt. — VNS