ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Here's a story we could have written last night: Phil Mickelson, professional golfer, makes an incredible surge from off the first page of the leaderboard on a major Sunday, and falls just short after something weird and unfortunate transpires.
Mickelson was six under on the day, and 10 under for the tournament, when he approached the 17th tee. He was two behind the leaders, but with rumors of imminent wind, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that with another birdie or two, he might get off the course just in time to watch the carnage play out from a perch in the clubhouse, and luck his way into a playoff. With 18 conceding a lot of birdies all week, he just had to survive the Road Hole, and the difficult blind drive alongside the Old Course Hotel. With his quintessential wide-eyed star, he teed up and took the all-important swing. Then this happened:
That's so Phil. It wasn't enough to just go OB -- he had to land it on a hotel balcony. And if it was allowed, you know he'd try to play it. As evidence, I present Exhibit A:
Of all the complaints directed against the R&A this week, the organization's biggest sin is that they don't have a specific bylaw allowing Phil Mickelson to knock on a hotel door and politely ask the puzzled guests if he can play through on their balcony. That's an unforgivable oversight.
As for the aborted Sunday charge, we've seen this too many times to count, most recently at this year's Masters, when a series of spectacular birdies and even more spectacular bogeys sent him bouncing around the leaderboard, eventually finishing in a tie for second place as Jordan Spieth won his first major. Maybe history will repeat itself, and this is some kind of positive omen for the young gun. But the real takeaway here is that Phil Mickelson is the best kind of lunatic -- part genius, part gambler, part maverick, part tragic hero -- and we should all hope and pray that he continues doing crazy things on Sundays for years to come.