Only about 15 feet stood between Phil Mickelson and the bottom of the cup on the 18th hole, not to mention history. If Mickelson made that putt for birdie, he would have shot a nine-under 62, which would have been the lowest score at a major championship in its long history.
Phil put a nice stroke on the putt that looked like it was good the whole way — well, that is until the ball went into the center of the cup and then lipped out. And it wasn’t one of those situations where Mickelson had hit it too hard and the ball caught the edge, so it lipped out. It was actually quite incredible that the ball managed to stay out of the hole. Naturally, Mickelson felt robbed of setting the record for the lowest score at a major championship in the history of the game.
Here’s the video…
“I played one of the best rounds of my life but I feel like crying,” Mickelson said. “All these highlights and I feel like crying. I don’t know how that putt stayed out. I want to shed a tear right now. That putt on 18 was an opportunity to do something historical. I knew it and with a foot to go I thought I had done it. I saw that ball rolling right in the center.
“I went to go get it, I had that surge of adrenalin that I had just shot 62 and then I had the heartbreak that I didn’t and watched that ball lip out. It was, ‘wow, that stings’. The opportunity to shoot 62 and be the first one to do it, I just don’t think that’s going to come around again. That’s why I walk away so disappointed.”
Indeed. Mickelson, who won the Open in 2013 at Muirfield (also happens to be the last time he’s been in winner’s circle), was understandably disappointed because he hit a really good putt, but I supposed the golf gods just didn’t want him to break the scoring record at a major.
“If I had just hit a weak flail-off, the putt never had a chance and I left it short, so be it. But this ball was hunting right in the centre and didn’t go. It was just heartbreaking.”
Mickelson (obviously) took the first-round lead by three shots over Martin Kaymer and Patrick Reed. He became the 28th player to post a 63 at a major and only the ninth at the Open Championship. And he’s the only player to ever shoot a 63 at Royal Troon at this event. (In other words, it’s a tough track, but the conditions were as benign as they’ll ever be Thursday afternoon.)
[Aside: Wait, just remembered Phil was paired with Lee Westwood (and Ernie Els). Now it all makes sense! I’m sure Westwood was thrilled that his presence could help another player take the lead at a major. Well, at least it wasn’t Sunday, but the players should be hoping to be paired with Westy! As you may recall, Westwood was paired with Danny WIllett at the Masters and then he played with Dustin Johnson at Oakmont. I’m pretty sure he’s thrilled about the trend so far this year!]
Mickelson “joked” about the dreaded “curse” on keeping him from the record.
“Well, it was obvious right there, there’s a curse because that ball should have been in,” he said, laughing. “If there wasn’t a curse, that ball would have been in and I would have had that 62.”
But perhaps the best part of the whole scene on the 18th green on Thursday evening was Jim “Bones” Mackay’s reaction when the putt lipped out.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 14, 2016