“I’m such an idiot…” Par 5

I can still hear that lament, coming from the mouth of Phil Mickelson as he sat—eyes glassy and cheeks a deep ruddy red—responding to the sports writers in the press area after finishing his final round of the 2006 U.S. Open Championship at Winged Foot.

Extra Golf - Mickelson 2006 Untitled                                                                                                                                                                           Heinz Kluetmeier/SI

Phil Mickelson dejected on 18th hole after losing the 2006 U.S. Open

with a double bogey on the final hole at Winged Foot.

 The question on the mind of every writer in the press tent was…What in the world were you thinking??? That’s a bold and painful question to ask a man when he’s down and having had little time to collect his thoughts —especially if its posed to one of the most well respected and accomplished players on the PGA tour.

To understand the need for the question we must revisit the final three holes of the tournament. Mickelson had been cruising along and had creatively crafted a three shot lead over his closest challenger, Jeff Ogilvy, as he walked on to the sixteenth tee, where the “drama” began to unfold.

He had a two shot lead with three holes to play.  All he needed to do was par out—a feat well within his capabilities as he had averaged par or better over the first three rounds on these particular holes. He didn’t need to play aggressive, just steady. By the time he reached the eighteenth tee, however, his lead had narrowed to just one stroke—a situation calling for caution and wisdom.

What happened next was astonishing to all who were watching.  Standing in the tee box, Phil discussed his options and strategy with Jim “Bones” Mckay—his caddy. To everyone’s amazement, perhaps even Bones, Phil, disregarding both caution and wisdom  opted for his Driver over his 4 wood or a long iron for greater accuracy.Driver? All he has to do is keep the ball in the fairway, give himself a shot at the green, two putt and the tournament is his.”

The incredulity in the booth arose because Phil had hit only two of his first 13 fairways, yet his imagination and his shot making had kept him in the lead. “Why tempt the fates and go to the Driver now?”

Amidst the flurry of challenging observations by those “in the know”, Phil stepped into position, set up and launched his drive, scoring a direct hit on a spectator tent located off the course. The ball took a fortunate bounce back into play, landing in the deep rough to the left of the fairway, which had been trampled down by spectators.

Now, he was faced with another choice—go for the green or play it safe? He chose to attempt to carve the ball around a tree to reach the green—bulls eye—the ball struck the tree he was trying to avoid and came to rest—again in the rough, 185 yards from the pin and the tree he had just hit still standing between him and the green.


With a margin of three strokes to take the round to a next day play off, he lofted his third shot over the offending tree but far left and into a green-side bunker. From there he blasted out of the bunker and watched as the ball rolled by the pin in route to the short grass just off the green. His next shot missed the cup and he went on to finish with a double bogey six—death by a thousand razor cuts.

As a result of the turn of events in those last three holes, Phil will forever live with a euphemistic * (asterisk) by his name signifying one of the worst collapses in U.S. Open history. It continues to be remembered as * “the Open Phil Mickelson let slip away” more frequently than “the Open Jeff Ogilvy won.”

So, lets go back to the question:  “What were you thinking”?  and Phil’s response “I am such an Idiot.”  What does any of this have to do with you and me?

Have you ever had a “Phil” experience where you really blew it? Perhaps it was an assignment you blew or perhaps a marriage you really made a mess of. Maybe it was/is an addiction you thought you could conquer that has, at least for the moment, derailed your life.

Anything happen in your life for which you want to cry out “I am/was such an idiot”? I know I have.

Truth be told, I have a whole bucket full of **********’s  (asterisks) in my life for things I’ve messed up.  But, the “good news” is that I have a Savior who has promised to erase all my asterisks…if I ask Him to. And, I have.

Aren’t you glad all our asterisks will have been erased when we join our maker for the adventure of eternity?  I sure am!

 You are joining us for that adventure…aren’t you?



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by John Smith on June 12, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Wow, it’s one thing for me blow it in relative obscurity, but an entirely different thing to blow it for the whole world to see! In either case, we do have a very forgiving God!


    • You got that right! The scary thing to me is when my collapse occurs in private. Do I go to God for forgiveness and then choose not to forgive myself and carry my shame like a boat anchor or do I accept Gods forgiveness and grace and move on minus the anchor?


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