2020 Masters Choose Your Own Adventure, Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: Bad Luck


Harry How/Getty Images for The Match

Mickelson doesn’t make birdie.

Of all the heartbreaking losses in Mickelson’s career, perhaps none of them better symbolize his wince-inducing memories than the 2006 U.S. Open. Everyone remembers the story: Leading by a stroke at Winged Foot, he pushed his tee shot so far left that it came to rest near a hospitality tent. He tried to hit a hero shot through the trees with his second, but clipped a limb and advanced the ball only 25 yards. Four strokes later, he’d closed with a double-bogey – and lost by one.

“I am such an idiot,” he would say afterward.

That will be a familiar flashback on the highlight shows tonight, you think as you watch Mickelson make a mess of another final hole at a major.

Perhaps knowing his usual miss off the tee is left, Phil hooks his tee shot dead right. Memories abound of Angel Cabrera, who drove it to this spot during a playoff in 2009. Attempting to go for the green, Cabrera hit a tree limb, watched his ball ricochet into the fairway, then made par from there to extend a playoff that he would eventually win.

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It’s very possible his second shot hits that same tree limb, but Mickelson doesn’t get the same break.

Instead, it shoots to the right. Forget about birdie … par is almost out of the question from here.

Indeed, four strokes later, he closes with a double-bogey – and loses by two.

As you meander toward the exit afterward, you hear other spectators using that same word to describe Mickelson as he used about himself that day at Winged Foot, calling him an idiot for that final-hole double.

There are comparisons, sure – the same score in a similar situation – but there was more bad luck involved with this one than just plain idiocy.

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