Monday, February 23, 2009
Aside from the utter joy displayed, Amy Mickelson showed signs of relief and satisfaction after Phil rolled a six-foot putt to clinch the Northern Trust Open. To really understand the moment in question, all you had to do was to look at Phil's mother's face as she stood with eyes closed and fingers crossed, waiting for the roller-coaster ride to come to a halt.
The two were poised to watch Mickelson in a playoff, thinking that this may be a repeat of the 2007 experience at Riviera where Phil lost in a sudden death playoff to Charles Howell III. Steve Stricker lurking at the eighteenth and trying to psyche out Mickelson as he made his final putt didn't comfort the ladies either!
The pressure was off after Phil Mickelson's win but he noted that "it was not easy" letting his five-stroke lead slide out from under him. The good news is that Lefty learned from this experience. "I was able to fight hard. Even though I didn't have my best stuff, I was able to fight through it."
"I knew he was going to pull it off at some time, but he waited until the last couple of holes," said Fred Couples, who played in the final group with Mickelson and seemed to have more confidence in Lefty than Phil had in himself.
With his first win this season and the 35th of his career already under his belt, Mickelson will be building on his success from the Northern Trust Open looking for a possible three-peat at the Masters and, hopefully, may even perform a "Mickel-slam" this year.
This tune-up was a good test of Mickelson's confidence, to say the least, as well as his ability to perform under pressure. "I need to become a better front-runner, but it gives me confidence and something to build on for the rest of the year."
I wonder who feels the pressure more now, Phil or Amy, and how much will the tension build now that Tiger Woods is back on the scene?
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