Phil's short game guru debacle

I’m one of those writers that doesn’t think Phil Mickelson is as “nice a guy,” as he is sometimes portrayed. I’ve heard too many stories from too many sports writers, and largely think Phil’s TV image is a sham. He’s openly hostile to print reporters, though he turns on the 1000 Watt smile for the TV cameras.

Anyway, he’s in the midst of a Stephen Ames-like quote war at the moment after instructor Dave Pelz said that Phil’s short game was better than that of the best player in the world:

“When Phil’s at his best, I’m thinking nobody can beat him,” Pelz told the Chicago Tribune in an article Tuesday that stirred comment at Medinah Country Club, site of this week’s PGA Championship.

“If Phil’s long swing is good, his short game, I believe, is the best in the world. He doesn’t have a serious weakness inside 150 yards. I’m not saying Tiger’s short game is bad. He has a great short game. But I think Phil putts more consistently than Tiger does. He has more imagination and a few more shots around the green.”

Is Pelz looking to become the short game guru for another golfer? Why poke at someone like Tiger? Does he want his chubby pupil to become the next Stephen Ames? And does he actually believe this nonsense?

Arguably, Woods is the greatest clutch putter the game has ever witnessed. In contrast, Phil can be pretty hot and cold. He’s tried at least a half dozen different putters, and though he is near the top of the list of the PGA Tour’s good putters, there’s something about him that leads me to believe he is not a great putter.

This year Woods is 71st in putting and first in scoring average. His full stats are here. Phil’s putting is better this year (4th), and his overall stats are here.

So what was Pelz thinking? Maybe he was just trying to pump up his pupil who is struggling to recover following his meltdown at the U.S. Open. Who knows? But if Pelz’s status in the Mickelson camp has fallen after the U.S. Open, this can’t help his position.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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