On the way to his second title in as many weeks, Phil Mickelson took an all-too-familiar left-hand turn on the 72nd hole of the Nissan Open, pushing his drive into the left rough.
Riviera’s kikuya grass can kikillyou, and Lefty’s approach shot from a sidehill lie came up well short. The resulting bogey led to a playoff with Charles Howell III who made several clutch putts down the stretch to card a splendid 65.
Howell won on the third extra hole when Lefty failed to save par after his putt from the front fringe stopped six feet short.
The story line will be how Phil let another one slip away. Fair enough. I think Lefty will shrug it off and look ahead to the next tournament. No need for excessive hand wringing.
But don’t miss the other story line — a breakout win for Charles Howell III, a guy oozing with talent. He didn’t back off on Sunday and executed under intense pressure. And that’s good for golf.
The Armchair Golfer
3 thoughts on “Nissan Notebook: One Howell of a Finish”
Looks like Phil lost another close tournament, one he was leading for most of the week. It seems to me that for some reason, Phil just makes poor decisions under pressure, and some bad swings. For example, on his last put of the final round, yes, he was out, but he should have let the other players putt out. This is courteous for the other golfers for one thing, and it would give him time to really look that putt over, to focus, to take a bit of time..but I believe he said, Oh, ok, I can go, I am ready…of course he missed it…I don’t think he was ready, he seems to rush things under pressure. Then at the play-off, he seemed to rush his tee shot on the first playoff hole..I know he needs to prove nothing really, but I think he could win more, if he just took his time, and made better decisions..
I couldn’t agree more about Howell. I think it’s great for golf. Win or lose, everyone still wants to see Phil and Tiger battle it out but it’s great to see some of these young guys start making moves.
That was a difficult putt on 18. Not sure if Phil would’ve made it regardless, but it probably would have been wise to wait. Lefty definitely tends to come up out of those tee shots when the pressure is on. It makes me think he needs to develop a safe, get-it-in-the-fairway swing (like Tiger when he shortens up his swing and punches the ball down the fairway). Length isn’t a problem. Getting it in play on the closing holes when everyone is twitchy is the challenge.
Yes, the silver lining to Phil’s failure was CH III’s clutch play on Sunday. He definitely faced down those second-place demons.