British OpenJuly 16, 2015

Phil Mickelson wants gale-force winds for his enemies Friday afternoon

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- It's a shame that Phil Mickelson doesn't play a team sport like basketball, because based on his penchant for psychological dominance, he'd probably work the refs like a champion. After posting a two-under 70 Thursday, a round that included a brilliant 64-degree wedge from a downhill lie that set up a birdie on the 18th, he hit the flash area and immediately transitioned into what I'm calling "influence mode." After an enthusiastic endorsement of both the course and links golf, he got down to business.

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"I wish everybody had that same challenge," he said, of the increased winds faced by the afternoon wave. "It looks like it may even out tomorrow if the winds pick up in the afternoon. It may even out."

He went on to speak at length about luck, and how it's impossible to win the British Open from the wrong side of an unfavorable draw -- as we saw at Hoylake last year. To that point, everything he said was fair enough, and it makes sense that he'd want the afternoon wave tomorrow to face a difficult course, especially after the calm conditions that benefited them this morning. But then someone asked him the magic question -- what if the R&A stopped play? Would he be as angry as he was in 2010, when a similar situation transpired on Friday?

"The winds are going to pick up tomorrow, and if they call play, I'll probably have the same reaction as I did five years ago," he said. "We were at a significant disadvantage today."

He emphasized that the greens were plenty soft enough to handle harsh winds, and that the ball would not likely be disturbed. In other words, play must go on!

Phil is hardly alone in hoping for the full Scottish golf experience Friday -- half the field completely agrees with him -- but the way he makes his point is, as usual, totally unique. For his parting shot, he might as well have addressed himself straight to the R&A:

"If it picks up and blows and gusts like it could very well in the afternoon, it could even itself out, but if they call play, that would be very disappointing."

The ability to exert soft pressure is a handy talent, and it's worth noting that we saw Jordan Spieth exercise it at the U.S. Open with his constructive complaints after the 18th hole played as a par-4 on Friday. It's impossible to know what influence Spieth had, but the USGA made the 18th a par-5 on both weekend days. In a similar fashion, you can bet the R&A will have Phil's words in mind when the wind starts howling tomorrow afternoon, and they wonder whether to blow the horn.

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