08/31/2013

He’s the wedge wizard – a chipping mastermind. It’s no secret in professional golf that Phil Mickelson is a short game savant. Aside from his 5 major championships and most recent British Open Championship, Phil Mickelson is well-known for his complete and utter control with his spinning, lofted pieces of forged artistry. Some would argue Phil is the artist.

Phil is fantastic on television and envied by peers. He is dissected by golf analysts and admired by amateurs. But how does his legendary short game stack up in the historical realm?

Seve Ballesteros lived as one of the most creative and raw shotmakers of not only a generation, but of golf history. He was the inventor of the extraordinary. At times, his shot making almost seemed forced, as if he was trying to prove the caliber of his exquisite touch. Other times, it was pure majesty to watch. Remember Seve’s front nine of his Ryder Cup match against Tom Lehman? I mean, I think I was 5 when it happened, but still.

When gauging shots from the sand, who better to emulate than one of the best golfers of all-time, Lee Trevino. A man of Mexican decent – a nation comprised of sand and desert regions – taught the world how to play from the sand. His flair was easy to notice, but hard to duplicate. He joins Gary Player atop the list of all-time great bunker players. The array of shots they could not only play, but play under pressure was noted by the world. They are revered for their skills from the sand.

What about Tom Watson’s ability to play any type of shot, from any condition of lie with any club in his bag? Tom’s practice routines included mass amounts of practice from difficult, seemingly impossible lies. Tom would see how he would fare against those lies with his goal being ‘never be surprised by a shot’. Tom was the one who did the surprising (click and FWD to 3:10).

What does Phil have in common with these greats? Quite frankly, Phil has something in common with every one of them. Phil is this generation’s representative in the short game sector. He’s natural touch, coupled with earnest work and exceptional creativity gives him an edge around the greens many golfers would die for.

It’s been a fun 2013 for Phil and Phil fans alike. Next time you watch Phil Mickelson either wow the galleries or shock the masses, pay attention to the way he uses his wedges. You might notice something from some of the game’s greats.

Troy Klongerbo