Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Report: Caddie defends Lefty's use of driver on 18
ESPN.com news services
Phil Mickelson has been criticized for hitting driver on the 18th hole in Sunday's final round of the U.S. Open, but Lefty's caddie told the New York Post that there was never any consideration of hitting 4-wood instead.
Mickelson's implosion on 18 will be the enduring memory of the 2006 U.S. Open.
"There was never even a consideration about hitting anything but driver," Jim "Bones" Mackay told the newspaper. "Phil hits his 4-wood no more than about 240 yards. A 4-wood into a 10- to 15-mile-per-hour wind uphill is going to go about 225 yards. There was no possible way to hit 4-wood long enough to reach the dogleg if he missed the fairway."
Mickelson went for a par that would have won at Winged Foot, but wound up with a double bogey that made Geoff Ogilvy the first Australian to win the U.S. Open in 25 years.
Mickelson's tee shot on the 18th went so far left that it clattered through the trees by a hospitality tent, into the trampled rough. Instead of playing out to the fairway and trying to get par he went after the green and hit a tree, the ball advancing only 25 yards.
The third shot sailed left of the green and buried in the bunker, plugged so badly that Mickelson had no chance to get close to the flag because the green ran away from him. He blasted out and through the green, into more rough, then chipped back 8 feet past the hole before making the last putt to close with double bogey.
Mackay told the Post that Mickelson kept hitting driver Sunday because it gave him the best chance to get the ball on the green, and said that he and Mickelson were aware of Ogilvy's progress ahead of them.
"We saw Ogilvy hit his second shot and were guessing that he hadn't put it on the green because he didn't look thrilled with it and we never heard the crowd roar," Mackay told the newspaper. "With [Colin Montgomerie], we heard from TV guys that he had a 10-foot putt for a five, and 60 seconds later we heard the crowd groan.
"So we knew that 4-over was going to win the tournament, and Phil was not playing for a tie."
Afterward, Mickelson handled the loss with poise, even calling himself "an idiot," but MacKay told the Post that Mickelson took the loss hard.
"I talked to him for about 15 seconds afterward. I don't think he's doing well at all. It was absolutely devastating."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.