Welcome to the "Meeting for People Who Continue to Be Awed, Baffled and Highly Entertained by Phil."
And that includes the guy who launched a cannonball off the grassy slope at Colonial and into the water by 18 just as Phil Mickelson's winning birdie putt dropped. The golf world hasn't seen a cannonball so pure since "Caddie Day" – from 1:00 to 1:15 p.m. – at Bushwood C.C.
Anyway, back to the golf.
First, Phil pulls a 180 from the media perception of his condescension and aloofness, and cuts the best string of athlete TV ads since Peyton Manning's "Priceless" advice campaign last year.
The "Meetings with Phil" spots do more than simply score free publicity for Crowne Plaza in this column space. They also help win some converts – namely, me – from those of us who long preferred Ernie Els' charismatic self-deprecation to what we perceived as Phil's cockiness, or those who preferred Retief Goosen's humble assassin to what we perceived as Phil's phony smile.
Riding that PR momentum into Colonial, Phil was ready for his next trick – the Signature Moment of the Masters-to-U.S. Open timeline.
If you missed the wedge on the 72nd hole from 140 yards out on a downhill, side-hill lie from the rough that ducked under one tree, skied over another and somehow found its way to nine comically close feet from the hole, you only missed the Shot of the Year. It took not just skill but also guts, and a sense of the moment, as well. There's only one other humanoid that can hit that shot at that moment, and he's the guy who just announced he won't be playing the Memorial this week, owing to the rehab on his bum knee.
Classic Phil: When asked, he told reporters it was probably "top five" in his career. If that sounds immodest, the catch is, he probably does have four other mind-blowers in his arsenal that matched the FW-Squared (Translation: "Fancy Wedge at Forth Worth").
Shoot, I can think of one already. At Pebble in '03, on the short par-4 4th, Lefty was in the back bunker in a brutal lie, plugged in the back face. He stood with his back to the hole and hit a sand wedge up over his head and backwards … landing on the green.
It was Carnival City. The only thing missing was the Bearded Lady and the Dog-Faced Boy. And here's the ultimate catch: Phil was on his way to shooting 80. That's right. Eighty.
And there's the rub. There's no phiguring Phil. It's the maddening thing about Phil, and why we're having this "Meeting for People Who Continue to Be Awed, Baffled and Highly Entertained By Phil."
While Anthony Kim's win at Charlotte means we likely witnessed the arrival of a bright young star, and while Sergio's win at Sawgrass means we can hold out a 10-percent hope that his putter might work at a major championship someday soon, Phil's second win of the season means absolutely nothing when it comes to predicting how it portends for future majors, specifically next month's U.S. Open at his hometown track of Torrey Pines. He could win it, or he could miss the cut by a half-dozen.
Phil is prediction-proof. Just as his FW-Squared landed those nine gorgeous feet from the pin, if you gave him another lash at it, he'd just as easily bang it off a tree limb.
He's unpredicta-Phil. For example, by winning at Colonial and Riviera this year, Lefty has pulled off the "Hogan Double," winning at Bantam Ben's two signature tracks. Mickelson and Hogan? In the same sentence? Their styles, personalities and games couldn't be more disparate – and yet, here we are, linking Phil and Ben in history.
I'm telling you, Phil is prediction-proof.
Here's another: With his win, Lefty becomes the only player to have multiple wins on the PGA Tour in each of the last five seasons.
Say what? First off, surely Tiger averages 10 wins a year every year for the last decade. And second off, you're telling me that Inconsistent Phil has notched multiple 'W's' for a half-decade running?
A check of the books shows: Phil won the Bob Hope and the Masters in '04; at Phoenix, Pebble, Atlanta and Baltusrol in '05; at Atlanta and the Masters in '06; and at Pebble, Sawgrass and the Deutsche Bank in '07. And are you ready for this mind-blowing double-dip? In 2004, Tiger Woods won only once on Tour, at the Match Play at La Costa.
So come one, come all. The meeting is open at the nearest Crowne Plaza. We'll even have a pool break at lunchtime. After all, when the heat index is 98 in Texas, you're allowed to cannonball into the nearest body of water.
Broadcast moment of the week
• "It goes well with the plaid boxers." – Ian Baker-Finch, 1989 Colonial winner, on the signature red tartan plaid jacket awarded to the winner.
A quality line from the "Dark Shark."
Still, the Colonial jacket continues to confound and confuse. Look, I'm a child of the '80s. I wore madras shorts just like you all did back in high school. But even given the fact that the cloth is imported from Scotland, and even that it's a "tradition," there's just no getting around it: The Colonial winner's jacket, aka the Al Czverik Special, is brutal, and has no place being seen in public.
Scorecard of the week
• 69-72-72-74 – Jay Haas, 1st place, 7-over 287, Senior PGA Championship, Oak Hill C.C, Rochester, N.Y.
Somewhere in this world, there may be a nicer man than Jay Haas. It may be Jim Nantz. It may be your local Franciscan monk.
To this Nicest Man was gifted a moment – a chance to avenge the 18th hole at Oak Hill, the site of his Ryder Cup demise to Philip Walton of Ireland in 1995, losing the point that cost America the Cup.
Who gets second chances in life? Answer: Nobody. Second answer: Nobody, except Jay Haas.
Given this shot at redemption, with a one-shot lead on the 72nd hole of a senior major, Haas piped it down the middle on 18. He made par and beat Bernhard Langer by a stroke – yes, the same Langer who was on the '95 Euro Ryder Cup team. Sometimes, almost by accident, karma works.
MULLIGAN OF THE WEEK
• Just a thought, but if we trotted Mickelson out to the 18th at Colonial, dropped that ball in the same place in the rough and asked him to navigate those trees again in the Yahoo! Mulligan of the Week – think he hits it to nine feet?
Some questions will never be answered.
Where do we go from here?
• To Muirfield Village, where Jack's sport coats are much more handsome than the sport coats at the Colonial.
Who's playing? Only Phil and Ernie and Vijay and Freddie and even Anthony Kim … but no Tiger. We'll have to get through it together, sports fans.