I have been a Phil Mickelson fan from the day my fellow San Diegan turned pro in 1992. I have stuck with him through the lows, the illnesses, and the assorted meltdowns that have cost him three or more majors.
Lately, however, I have become fearful that Lefty has lost his mind. The first sign came when he befriend Keegan Bradley, the real golfer’s public enemy #1. While under Keegan’s spell, Phil switched to the belly putter for a brief trial at the end of last season. After switching back to the short putter, he then went to the claw grip even though, statistically speaking, he was having one of the best season’s in 2012 with the flat stick.
Phil got positively giddy about Keegan’s driving when playing as his partner at the Ryder Cup, which may further clouded his judgment on the game. According to Phil, “I saw an opportunity to where if I could drive the ball the way Keegan did, I would really have some opportunities and chances to do something special in my career and have some of my best finishes.”
Excuse me Phil, but didn’t you hire Butch Harmon over six years ago to straighten out your driving? And now here you are, at age 42, coming to the realization (again) that your driving is a weakness that desperately needs your attention? Either Phil has the world’s worst memory, is in complete denial, or is the world’s slowest learner.
And now, as we are nearing the big day when anchoring will be banned, Phil has once again jumped to the defense of this ethically challenged technique even though he is clearly on the wrong side of this issue. “It’s just that I don’t think you can take away what you’ve allowed players to use, practice and play with for 30 years. I think it is grossly unfair,” said Mickelson.
His argument might have some weight if 30, 50, or 80 percent of tour players, and a like number of amateurs, had been anchoring for the last 10 to 30 years. The acid test, however, is majors won by players who anchored, and the first one came at the 2011 PGA, only 15 months ago. Furthermore, only a handful of PGA Tour events have been won by players who anchor. And, from every account that I’ve read, only a small percentage of recreational players are wedging a broomstick into their belly.
So, should we be protecting the right to anchor of a handful of players who have been doing it for less than decade? Or, should we look to the long term and do what is best for the game for the next 50 to 100 years or more? Given how much resistance and downright hatred there is for anchoring, the answer is obvious.