Left Out, Matt Benjamin breaks down all the happenings of Winged Foot.

Hondo S. Carpenter

Left Out

By Matt Benjamin


The collapse that Winged Foot housed on Sunday evening left viewers feeling nauseas. The difficulty of the course was supposed to cause catastrophic losses, not mental errors. After all, when the United States Open was held at Winged Foot in 1974 Hale Irwin walked away victorious at seven-over. The course was already difficult, the players new this, and would avoid adding insult to injury.


Phil Mickelson, chasing the Chris Berman proclaimed, “Mickel-Slam,” was about to win his first U.S. Open. It would have been his third major in a row, dating back to last seasons PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club. It was in his hands, trophy and all. All he needed was a par on the 18th to win the tournament and nothing worse than a bogey would secure a tee-time on Monday in an 18-hole playoff with Geoff Ogilvy.Â


“To be honest with you, it was one of the worst collapses in U.S. Open history,” Johnny Miller sighed. Â


Just like that, Mickelson had slammed the door on the “Mickel-Slam.”Â


“Just incredible. That’s the only word that describes it. I was already gearing up for the playoff,” Miller continued.


He was shocked. I was shocked. The gallery was shocked. Worst of all, Mickelson was shocked.Â


In a sport where individuals can control their fate by making good decisions, Mickelson was spinning in a downward spiral. He lead by two-strokes with three to play and one-stroke with one to play, but even with the lead, Phil’s normal calm, cool, collect mood turned to flustered disquietude. Even his full-Philled smile couldn’t hide it.Â


He was out of sorts. He took driver when he should have taken two-iron. Then, only after a lucky bounce off a hospitality tent, he hit into a tree when he should have been punching out to safer grounds in the fairway. He still could have punched out and attempted to extend the tournament to Monday with an up-and-down. But instead he decided to go for it all, and landed uncomfortably in the sand. Three strokes later he had lost the tournament and simultaneously gave it to Geoff Ogilvy.


Take nothing away from Ogilvy, he was consistent all weekend and deserved to win this tournament. He chipped in for par on hole seventeen and followed it up by chasing away his nerves on the eighteenth green by knocking down a fifteen-foot putt to save par.Â


“I never expected to win the Open at five-over, but funny things happen sometimes,” remarked Ogilvy, with his trophy held snug in his right hand.Â


“I can’t believe I did that,” Mickelson concluded.Â

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