GolfTube: Mickelson mic’d, Tirico’s forced call, and Flight Track

Sizing up the TV coverage from the British Open ... and away we go.

Phil Mickelson and caddie Jim Mackay are the epitome of an old married couple of the course. They bicker, yell at each other, and always think their other is in the wrong.

During Sunday's final round broadcast, ESPN's mic gave viewers at home a snapshot of what a typical conversation is like betweeen the two, as Mickelson and Mackay discussed driver or 3-wood off the 5th tee. Mickelson wanted to hit the driver, while Mackay pushed for the 3-wood.

Mickelson wanting to hit driver off the tee?! I'm shocked.

"I just remember the time we spent with [Dave Pelz]," Mickelson said. "He said when it's 15 knots or more downwind your 3-wood will go farther than your driver. You'll get it up in the air a little bit higher and you'll get a little more spin."

It was an interesting discussion, and gave viewers an insiders view into a critical moment in the final round. Mackay tried his best, but Mickelson still ended up hitting driver off the tee and making par.

While the casual golfer at home probably sided with Mickelson -- you always hit the driver! -- ESPN's Paul Azinger sided with the Mackay.

"I think Bones [Mackay] is right," Azinger said. "The hardest thing for Mickelson is to give in and he gave in here. Bones is exactly right. Less margin for error with the 3-wood."

Kudos to ESPN for catching their conversation and mic'ing it for viewers at home.

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The elegance of simplicity

ESPN's Curtis Strange is a straight shooter when it comes to his opinion on players and the game of golf in general So it shouldn't come as a surprise that he started to piece things together following Dustin Johnson's fanned approach shot that went out of bounds on the 14th hole, and ended his Open chances.

"This is three majors now he potentially could have won. Looks like maybe a bit of a pattern."

The best part about the comment? He didn't drop a Johnny Miller "choke" in there. It was a simple but powerful comment from Strange, and let casual viewers at home know this wasn't the first time Johnson had imploded at a major.

Tirico's forced call

The game of golf has some classy commentators, but ESPN's Mike Tirico might be one of the absolute best. Armed with deep golf knowledge and respect for the game, he gives viewers the information they're looking for, while allowing the coverage to stand on its own.

But for once Tirico was off his game, and it came at the absolute worst time. With Darren Clarke standing over a putt to win the tournament, you knew Tirico would make the winning call.

It's just too bad his call was one of the cheesiest in recent memory.

"Clarke wins in Kent; it was a super effort," Tirico said, as the putt fell into the hole.

Clarke, Kent, Super ... ah, I see what you did there! It's a play off Clark Kent and Superman. But seriously, is that the best you can do? I know the call is supposed to be memorable, but this one just seemed forced.

Sure, we all know who Clarke is, but this week and the months leading up to the Open, we knew the area around Royal St. George's as Sandwich, not Kent. It probably took a moment to realize Sandwich is the town, and Kent is the county.

Maybe the ball flight isn't the problem

If you were to ask someone why Phil Mickelson has so much trouble at the Open Championship, you'd probably get the response that he hits a high ball that doesn't translate to having success on link-style courses.

But as ESPN's Paul Azinger noted during Thursday's round, Phil doesn't have a problem flighting the ball into the wind.

"A lot's made of his ball flight and the fact he hits it too high to play here," Azinger said. "He can hit it as low as anybody. I'm surprised at that record. Shocked, really."

Short putting certainly is an issue

While Phil's ball striking was nearly perfect during the tournament, his short putting was his Achilles' heel. After missing a short putt on the back nine on Thursday, Paul Azinger ripped Mickelson for his inability to make the clutch short putts.

"What is it about Mickelson that that length of putt just makes us all so nervous to watch him? We all know he's going in the Hall of Fame, but he might end up being the worst short putter in the entire Hall of Fame."

Worst short putter in the entire Hall of Fame? That might be a little harsh, but when the week ended, it was clear Lefty's short putting doomed his Open chances.

Flight Track technology a major success

ESPN put ball tracer technology in place last year at the 2010 Open to track shots hit off the tee, and for the second year in a row, they brought the technology back, this time under a new name.

The Flight Track technology was a huge success, as golf fans were able to track the flight of the ball off the tee. You could see instantly if the ball was hooking or slicing too much, as well as the trajectory of the shot.

Not only that, the network sometimes showed every flight path on a particular hole, giving viewers at home a chance to see which line golfers were taking off the tee.

The technology was also a perfect companion on the weekend when the cloudy skies made it difficult to track the ball off the tee.

ESPN's Putt Zone? Not so much

For as much praise as Flight Track received at the Open, ESPN's Putt Zone was a complete waste. The line apparently allowed you to see line where the golfer should putt the ball on a particular hole.

The only problem was the gimmick didn't work. On countless occasions, the line was wrong, as players putted the ball directly on the marker, only to watch the ball move left or right at the last second.

What good is it to have a putt tracker if it can't even get things right?

Azinger's "Say What?!" moment

Leave it to ESPN's most opinionated golf announcer Paul Azinger to produce one of the most bizarre comments of the week. With Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy walking up the 18th fairway on Friday, Azinger tried to tell viewers at home about the golfers' body types.

"[Rory McIlroy's] big and powerful. Rickie's very small. Plays a different style of game."

McIlroy "big and powerful"? Fowler "very small"? One look at the tour's media guide would tell you they're almost the same size and weight. Sure, McIlroy is a little longer off the tee, but their games aren't that dissimilar.

Azinger's comments made it sound like he was trying to compare Gary Woodland to Fred Funk -- not two young bucks ranked near the top in driving distance.

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