Mickelson’s mountain-sized mistake

Kenny Roda will be writing a weekly blog on Cleveland Scores covering the entire Cleveland sports universe. Check back often for his updates!

If youre into sports you’ve probably heard the old saying, “Pressure bursts pipes or makes a diamond!” If that indeed is the case, then Phil Mickelson’s plumbing needs some serious work, while Dwayne Wades bling-bling collection is about to get bigger. It truly does amaze me how some athletes excel under pressure, while others choke miserably.

Take Mickelson for example. Hes a three-time major winner on the PGA tour. Sure he went 0 for 44 or 45 before he won his first major, but he finally was able to overcome the missed short putts, passed on the risky shots and finally ended his drought and got the monkey of his back. He seemed to have had a handle on pressure and was collecting diamond after diamond, while there was no leakage under his kitchen or bathroom sinks. Then the hefty lefty went out this past Sunday at Winged Foot, needing only a par on the 18th and final hole to win his first U.S. Open, and choked so bad that even Dr. Heimlich couldn’t save him. One report said that while watching the Open at home, the golfer formerly known as the “Big Collapse”, Jean Van de Velde, was even laughing hysterically at what Mickelson was attempting.

What was he thinking pulling a driver out on number 18 when he had only hit 2 of 17 fairways all day? Even “Tin Cup’s” Roy McAvoy knows you don’t let the big dog eat there. You pull out a 4-Wood or 4 iron and hit it right down the middle of the fairway. Then you take your 5 or 6 iron and play for the middle of the green. Lastly, you two-putt for par and win the United States Open. But that’s what pressure will do to you, especially when you think you’ve conquered pressure. That’s exactly what seemed to happen to Mickelson on Sunday.

Phil has always pushed the envelope. He has always been driven to win, but wanted the style points to go with it. He’s been a gambler all his life. Why else would you have reportedly bet on the Arizona Diamondbacks to win the World Series and the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl the way Phil did in Las Vegas?

Although he proved to win both of those bets, his gamble on Sunday could prove to be a career-threatening mistake. No, there’s no Vegas thug coming to break his legs because he can’t make good on his bet. There’s just that mental scar of standing on the 18th green at the U.S. Open with a one-shot lead, needing just a par to claim victory and then bouncing your drive off the hospitality tent so far left that it showed up on radar at the nearest airport in New York. Then instead of just chipping out to the fairway, Phil rolled the dice again. He went for the green, hit a tree, and saw the ball land only 25 feet in front of him. Finishing it off with a double bogey 6, Phil saw his dream turn into one of golf’s worst nightmares ever.

Here’s another sports saying I’ve heard many times about pressure. “Pressure Cooks A Ham!” Well if that is true, then right now there is no bigger ham in the sports world than Phil Mickelson. And that ham is well done! Pass the honey glaze, please.

Who do you think is the all-time greatest pressure performer in sports?

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