Phil Mickelson’s fall from grace highlighted by US Open troubles | US Open


An unintentionally comedic moment was delivered when Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen and Shane Lowry wandered to their second strokes at the country club’s opening hole on Friday.

“Hey Louis,” a Bostonian yelled. “Great work in winning last week.”

It was Charl Schwartzel who prevailed in the inaugural LIV golf event at the Centurion Club. As easy as it may be to confuse South African golfers – neither Schwartzel nor Oosthuizen have much profile – this turned out to be a subtle nod to general or willful ignorance of the LIV scene. It’s taking place somewhere in the ether, but the paying public doesn’t bother with further details. Unless, of course, the player made a notable reference to LIV’s team event, which is even further down the public consciousness.

At the time of the misguided cry in the gallery – this group played the back nine first – Mickelson was 11 over par at the 122nd US Open. Just 13 months after Mickelson stole hearts and minds with a glorious US PGA Championship triumph, he’s closed become irrelevant in competition. He is destined never to win his domestic Opens, a notable lapse in an otherwise iconic career. Even now it is a clouded one.

There’s a lot more to Mickelson’s situation than what’s in his trophy cabinet. He committed such an incredible act of self-sabotage that he was almost pitied as he limped toward the second-lap finish line. He reached that point after shooting a penalty-strewn 73 for a total of 11 over par. This was a third missed cut in Mickelson’s last six appearances at the US Open. He also hit a spectator on the head with his tee shot on the 3rd, which pretty much summed up his wayward play.

Any feeling that Mickelson, the poster child for Saudi Arabia’s ongoing gulf disruption model, would approach Brookline proved unfounded. “Go get her Phil” and “You’re the man Phil” were the usual shouts. But everything was rather restrained, as if the backers didn’t know exactly how to shape their attitude towards the 52-year-old.

It may be that much of this crowd thinks Mickelson has suffered enough after being questioned for several weeks about his thoughts on Saudi human rights abuses and 9/11. Perhaps some of the US Open crowd – men of a certain age – have encountered problems with gambling and sympathize with Mickelson’s admission of the same. However, there is a marked difference between the welcome Mickelson received at Brookline and the flattering praise he once met at every step. For the six-time Major winner who was once such a great manipulator of public sentiment, things will never be the same again. His 36 holes looked completely cheerless.

Mickelson, banned from the PGA Tour, appears weakened in character. There is sadness behind the sunglasses. He hasn’t covered himself in glory in front of the media, but the $200 million question is whether Mickelson regrets starting negotiations with the Saudis, which he says were a “bargaining” ploy before he had reached the point where he had himself ostracized by the Saudis on the PGA Tour. Maybe he doesn’t care; Behavior and loss of sponsors speak against it.

While Mickelson struggled, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler marauded through the field thanks to a 67. It’s Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and others who are firmly in the PGA Tour camp against the LIV threat. As long as this remains the case, LIV will remain in the background rather than occupying a prominent position in the sport.

LIV, led by Greg Norman, is expected to announce the signing of more players on Monday. Next week the DP World Tour will also reaffirm its position on the existential threat. The smart money would be an increased alliance between those at Wentworth and the PGA Tour.

Mickelson will appear next when the LIV circus — 54 holes, no cut, dollars guaranteed — arrives in Oregon later this month. By then he hopes to have solved glaring putting problems. In addition, he must somehow make peace with himself. According to all available evidence at Brookline, he’s a long way from achieving that position.

You May Also Like