Phil Mickelson Needs a 3-Wood to the Head

I sat up last night watching the US Open on my PVR and decided that Phil Mickelson just does some things — like carrying two drivers, or in the instance of this US Open, well, no driver — just to be Phil.

But how does it make sense not to hit driver when you hit less than half the fairways with your 3-wood? This is the most asinine strategy I think I’ve seen, especially since Mickelson can’t find the short grass with a shorter club. Why not at least advance it farther with his driver? Or is Phil really that erratic with his driver? Oh, don’t answer that last one.

Phil the Thrill explains:

Mickelson opted to add an extra wedge and use an 11.5-degree 3-wood off the tee.

Mickelson loves to show he is smarter than everyone else (or so he thinks). He decided the 3-wood gave him plenty of distance for Torrey Pines, which is playing to 7,643 yards.

“My game plan was that I only want to hit a certain distance,” Mickelson said. “I don’t really want to hit it past 300 yards on most of the par 4s because it starts running into the rough.”

So far Mickelson hasn’t had to worry about balls rolling into the rough — most of his 3-woods have landed there.

While I’m ranting, I think the US Open site — on something called — is terrible. No stats, just scorecards. Makes look brilliant in comparison.

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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.

13 CommentsLeave a comment

  • If Phil keeps doing this over the weekend we will know he is not thinking clearly. Any normal person would change the
    “game plan” if it is not working!!

    Put the driver back in your bag Phil!!

  • This is the most asinine strategy I think I’ve seen…..Robert…what level of competitive golf have you played to make this evaluation? This is the number two player in the world, and you are questioning his strategy, implying that you have some expertise at playing golf at this level. What is the highest level of competition you have played? My guess is that you have trouble breaking 90 on a good day, on a 6500 golf course, so do you really do not know what it takes to compete at the US Open? I find your comment very naive at best and even idiotic. These players compete day in day out at the highest level, and they have coaches. They make make decisions to allow them to win. You have no idea what the reasoning is behind this strategy, but the fact remains that only Phil and his team are informed enough to make this decision.

  • You couldn’t be more right with the last post, I have seen RT golf twice this year and he thinks he is much better than he is. I would say he is about a 13 handicap with a wicked hook. Its so easy for writers to sit back and critique and give their opinion on players, courses, and base it on nothing. Phil has 3 majors, and is the number 2 player in the world. Who cares if the 3 wood strategy didn’t work? He’ll be back, just make sure you’re there to slam him again next time RT, it really shows you’re bia toward certain golfers (Weir). Why haven’t you wrote an article about how bad Weir played for 3 years? You touched on it but not to the degree that you love to slam Phil, call it fair RT you hack.

  • I agree with the last two comments. Robert Thompson would have trouble breaking 120 at Torrey Pines, under normal Open conditions, and he is critical of Phil’s decisions. Robert really has no idea what he is saying. I guess they have to put pen to paper each and every day, so that makes them experts evaluating the decisions of the very elite of the sport. Robert, tell your audience what is the HIGHEST level of competitive golf you have played. Did you ever play anything other than a 4 man scramble? Given that you know so much, perhaps you should meet with Phil and tell him how crazy his strategy is. Phil may very well welcome your completely uninformed commentary. Have you ever played in a competition where they did not use your handicap to award you a prize? What is the lowest score you have every recorded. Did you play in college? What makes you an expert in course reviews? Did you every design a course? What other subjects are you an expert in? You are very talented. You seem to know about competitive golf and strategy, about course design, and everything else.

  • I think the point with Mickelson is that is always tries to do something to look more clever than everyone else. Examples include, his 2 drivers, and no driver Furthermore, no one seems to play the chopped 3 wood out of rough more than Mickelson.

    It is pretty clear that Phil has made many huge mental blunders over his career. The 2006 Us Open was a clear example of him making a mental mistake on the 18th at the most critical moment. And you didn’t need hindsight to see that he was making a poor judgement at that time (similarly to Van Velde in the Open, you didn’t need to be a tour pro or scratch player to see how stupid his strategy was at the time)

    Phil is arguably on the outer end of his prime and these mental errors may result in him winning no more majors for the rest of his career. I would wager that at most he wins 1 more major for the rest of his career and these silly
    errors have cost him.


  • Come on guys, everyone is entitle to an opinion and they do not have to justify it by their playing prowess. Take a look at every sports reporter. Are they playing experts in their given field. NO!
    Robert, carry on. I got a chuckle out of this statement.

  • Dear Mr. Grow: I’m a little concerned that you are spending an inordinate amount of time watching my play golf, especially considering how little I’ve played in Ontario this year. I’m not quite a 13, and my problem isn’t a hook. Nice try though. I’m looking for some swing tips though.

    Mr. I Agree: Not a competitive golfer. Best round is a 68 at Pacific Dunes in 2004. Don’t play that well these days. I appreciate you applauding my talent though. Very kind.

    The basis is this — Phil likes to be, well, Phil. He moves to his own beat. In this instance the 3-wood experiment failed miserably. The two driver deal was better, but one has to wonder how successful that was if he never bothered with it again. One day this week he carried five wedges. I’m sure this makes sense to Team Phil, but it doesn’t make much sense to me.

    Of course, my lack of understanding of Team Mickelson really has little to do with my abilities as a golfer. By that theory, the only ones who could critique the Prime Minister would have been PM themselves. The only ones who could criticize a multi-platinum band would have to have sold millions themselves. The only ones that would have the right to critique the Leafs would have had to lose repeatedly for decades, and so on….

  • Good responses RT. I agree with you totally. It is your job to give your opinion on everything golf. You don’t have to be a great player to know golf.

  • Anyone know where us poor old Canadians can watch the playoff? My program guide hasn’t been updated and I’d really like to set the DVR to catch all of the round while I’m working. Ideally, I’d like the coverage in HD. NBC Sports webite says it’s on ESPN at 12 EST and NBC at 2 EST. Since we’re behind the Canadian firewall, the ESPN coverage can’t be seen (unless TSN picks it up, I guess).

  • Looks like it’s on TSN until 2 EST, then on to TSN Alternate (what the heck that is, I don’t know). Maybe it’ll be on the NBC HD feed we get from Detroit starting at 2 EST? I’m hoping so.

  • If I were a reporter on site at the US Open, I would ask Butch, Bones, and Pelz what they think of Lefty’s no-driver strategy.

  • Thanks Rob. Everyone has been so busy writing to you about this post that no one has any time to read my posts. Damn!

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