The game of golf can be very humbling.
Just when you’ve put a string of pars together and think you have it all figured out, along comes a bad swing, a difficult lie or a daunting hazard to bring you back to reality. Yes, if I had a dollar for every double bogey I’ve made in my life, I’d be a very wealthy man.
Of course, the double bogeys I’ve made over the years have cost me a few bucks and most certainly wounded my pride, but never has a double bogey cost me the U.S. Open championship. That would really hurt and certainly golfers around the globe could feel the pain that Phil Mickelson felt as he double bogeyed the 18th hole Sunday to lose to Geoff Ogilvy by one stroke.
Mickelson wasn’t the only one who suffered with a double on the 18th. Co-leader Colin Montgomerie, who hasn’t won a major in 58 tries, also found a way to double botch the final hole, costing him the taste of victory as well. How Montgomerie missed the green with a 7-iron and then three-putted is mind-boggling. I’ll bet he will replay that shot in his mind and on the range a hundred times in the future.
Interestingly, Montgomerie had plenty of company when it came to faltering down the stretch. Padraig Harrington played bogey-free golf until he finished with three straight bogeys, which landed him one shotoff the lead. Also, Jim Furyk, a former Open champ, three-putted 15 and missed a short putt on 18 to finish one shot behind.
When you look at the fact that Mickelson hit only two of 14 fairways Sunday, you couldn’t help but ask, “Why isn’t he using a different club off the tee?” With three holes to play, all Phil needed to do was play the remaining holes in 1 over par and the U.S. Open crown was his. Was I the only one yelling at him through the television to use his 4-wood?
Time after time, drive after drive, Mickelson found himself in the rough. Then to compound matters, knowing a bogey would put him in a playoff but lying in the rough on 18, he chose to go for the win instead of playing it safe.
Yes, watching the greatest golfers in the world make mistake after mistake made me feel a little better about my own game. I can hit a tree or three-putt with the best of them.
And, of course, golfers everywhere could totally relate to the comment made by Mickelson to sum up his round: “I am such an idiot.” I’ve said the very same thing many times.
Former Warriors star and Hall of Famer Rick Barry hosts the noon-3 p.m. talk show on KNBR (680 AM). E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.