Notes from the North

Life must be hard for Phil Mickelson.

Lefty withdrew from this past weekend's Memorial Tournament, Jack Nicklaus' tournament, after the first round, citing "mental fatigue". Seems he'd done a little bit of extra-curricular travelling in the weeks leading up to the Memorial and couldn't quite keep his head in the game.

Rumours immediately circulated that Mickelson's "mental fatigue" was fed by the click and whirr of cellphone cameras out on the course, as his many fans tried to record their big moment standing near their golfing hero. I guess the cricket-like clicking got under Phil's skin, especially since cellphone cameras are banned on the course.

So he quit. And expected, I think, for the world to accept his decision and move on.

Only then we were treated to one Tiger Woods, the golfer who has cast a massive shadow over Mickelson almost throughout his entire career. Woods hasn't been playing too well of late, has struggled momentously in fact, but came to Memorial as much to honour one of his own golf heroes, the Golden Bear, as to continue to work on his game.

Tiger showed some spark in the first two rounds and then, battling a fever that apparently topped out at 102 degrees, played himself in, then out, then back into contention on Saturday.

Woods was so sick he probably should have been home in bed with a doctor hovering nearby. Instead, he was out on the course, playing for Jack, for himself, and for us.

I wonder if Mickelson watched that third round? Saw Tiger sweating and shaking as he gave it his all. I wonder if Phil watched the final round of the tournament? Do you think he did? Did he watch and mutter to himself as the day progressed: "I can't see how anyone can play golf with all that clicking going on?"

Did he watch as his nemesis, Tiger Woods, are up the back nine to put himself in striking distance, then hit that ridiculous shot on 16 that brought a roar from the crowd, a Tiger roar of a kind no other golfer seems able to inspire?

I wonder how poor Phil is feeling this morning. The U.S. Open is coming up in two weeks and he certainly can't miss that one, even if that annoying cellphone camera clicking problem hasn't been dealt with. He's got to tee it up and play golf, despite this incredible distraction.

My question is this: if Mickelson can't play golf when there's a little bit of clicking going on, how in the world can we expect him to play when Tiger has the gallery roaring?

June 4, 2012  01:04 PM ET

I don't know the answer to your question, but Mickelson has two weeks to figure it out.

That shot on 16 was incredible.

June 4, 2012  04:20 PM ET

What Mickelson did was inexcusable. He withdrew from Jack Nicklaus' tournament due to fatigue, following a trip to Paris with his wife. I can't fault someone for wanting to take their wife on a nice trip, but he should've scheduled it at a different time. All the pros today owe Jack Nicklaus a huge debt of gratitude, as Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are probably the persons most responsible for the popularity of golf and the huge paychecks these guys collect.

And the shot on 16 was even better than any of the flop shots Mickelson has become famous for.

June 4, 2012  05:04 PM ET

Great point on the flop shot. Nothing like beating Lefty at his own game. We may not all like him but we have to admit: Tiger's got style.

June 5, 2012  02:27 PM ET

tiger wins his what second tournament in a few yrs and phil is a deadbeat? LOL.... tiger still won't be competitive in the majors and it's funny to hear all the negative talk about ole phil. have we forgotten what tiger did already? what short memories we have. both of these guys are past their prime and although each will still get some wins in here and there, the younger generation is chomping at their heals and they can feel it!

June 5, 2012  02:29 PM ET

and i'll add these guys were incredibly fun to watch and i'm a fan of both (although a little less of tiger.... his personality makes it hard to like him beyond his talent.)


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