The first round of the 2011 Barclays Scottish Open was not pretty for Phil Mickelson. Sure, he shot a 73 in tough, windy-as-usual conditions and we all know that he’s not feeling well because of his arthritis and the fatigue brought on by the medication to treat it. We should just be happy that he’s still showing up and trying his best, right? It’s his soul that we love, not only his playing. Right?
Well, yes, but…Phil moved on past his somewhat mediocre Thursday to shoot a 67 during the second round and a 69 for the third and final round of the weather delayed warm-up to the Open Championship next week. Forget the numbers. He still didn’t win the tournament. What he did do, though, is remind us all of the courageous spirit that obviously still dwells in his champion’s heart. In danger of missing the cut, Phil stepped up and turned the bogeys into pars and the pars into birdies and an eagle, then finished the tourney in grand style by scoring four straight birdies on holes 18 through 3.
Like I said, he didn’t win…but he sure looked good not winning! One of the hardest things I have had to do lately is admit that Phil’s arthritis has changed his game. His “feel” around the greens has suffered particularly and that used to be the strongest aspect of his performance in any tournament. Okay, so he’s not that young, fresh-faced kid we all fell in love with back in the nineties, but he’s still Phil “The Thrill” and I’m convinced that he’s got a lot more thrilling to do before he hangs up his pitching wedge. I’m excited about the Open Championship. Go Phil!!
By the way, the tournament had to be shortened to 54 holes after torrential rainfalls rendered the course unplayable and wiped out play on Friday. World number one Luke Donald managed a convincing four-stroke victory over Sweden’s Frederik Andersson Hed at Castle Stuart Golf Links, thereby confirming his ranking atop the Official World Golf Ranking and his position as the clear favorite for this week’s British Open.