Phil Mickelson came to the stunning West Virginia mountains of White Sulphur Springs hoping to “make some birdies” but was frustrated by a golf course that had undergone a major greens renovation since Stuart Appleby’s -22 victory in last year’s tournament. Admittedly rusty after two weeks of inactivity, Phil hit the ball well with some booming drives but, nonetheless, struggled on the new, hard-as-rock greens and missed the cut for the first time in 17 appearances.
The White Course still offered an exciting weekend, though, and provided a feel-good ending when Scott Stallings recovered from a front nine +4 to force a playoff with a birdie on the final hole, following that with another birdie on the first extra hole to beat Bill Haas and Bob Estes for his first PGA Tour victory. Stallings, Haas and Estes each shot -10 during regulation play.
This was the second year of PGA action at the famed Greenbriar Hotel resort and looks to be just the beginning of a long partnership. Designed and built at a time of lavish, architecturally driven golf courses in the early 20th century, the White Course compares favorably with such masterpieces as Riviera, Augusta and the Atlantic Athletic Club, host to the PGA Championship in two weeks time.
Although disappointed by missing the cut, Phil was still happy to have spent the week with his wife, Amy, and their three children in the natural beauty of the Greenbriar National Forest. The Mickelson family heads home to California for a couple days of rest and then on to Akron, Ohio, where Phil will compete in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational against a field that includes Tiger Woods, back in action since withdrawing from The Player’s Championship in May due to injury.
Landon Cocks (43) lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a lifelong golfer. Read more of his golfing thoughts and opinions at www.jlandoncocks.com