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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Phil the Thrill Strikes Again

Armed with a new Phrankenwood (or is it three?) Phil Mickelson is making a run at the Wells Fargo Championship. Phil has never won here in North Carolina -- he came close in the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, the one he lost to Payne Stewart -- but here he is, tied for the lead going into the final round.

For a while there it looked like he was going to run away from the field. Then he hit one out-of-bounds on 15 for a double-bogey and added a bogey on 16. Even with all that -- shooting +1 for the day -- he still managed to tie Nick Watney for the lead. (Watney posted his own double at 17.)

Watney/Mickelson pairing

But was this just a case of Phil going wild? It doesn't look like it. Here's a link to the transcript of the interview Phil did after his round. He did talk about making some mistakes, but take a look at a couple of these excerpts -- first, part of an earlier answer:
But I grinded it out. I felt like this could be a final round deal where we're getting so much rain tomorrow and Monday that we may not be able to play. Much like when I won at BellSouth in the playoff when we got to the last round or two, it rained out. We ended up trying to get a par‑3 that was playable and play a playoff, and there is a good chance we might have that. So I was grinding it out there even though I didn't have my A‑game coming down the stretch just to be on top of the lead or tied for the lead in case that happens.
And then he went into more detail:
Q. Did today feel like it could perhaps be a final round for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely it did. I was grinding it out coming down the stretch because there is a high likelihood that we don't play tomorrow. And it reminds me of when we had a rain out at BellSouth in Atlanta years ago, and they just made a par‑3 somewhat playable. We went out and had a playoff, and I was fortunate enough to win. I thought there was a good chance we might have that scenario again if the weather comes in like it's supposed to today and the forecast is as bad on Monday.
And as if that wasn't enough:
Q. You're sort of playing the end of the round there like it's the final round?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I really was. I was leaking oil too and made some mistakes. But there is a high likelihood we don't get the final round in with the weather coming in tomorrow and Monday, and a good chance that we'll end up having a one‑hole playoff. You have to be prepared for both scenarios. But it was important that putt on the last hole to be tied for the lead because if the last round is rained out at least I still have a chance.
"There is a high likelihood that we don't play tomorrow." That storm Phil referred to looks to be a pretty big one. Everybody in my neighborhood -- a couple of hours north of Charlotte -- was out mowing lawns Saturday because of all the rain predicted here, starting today and continuing through tomorrow. According to weather.com, the temperature is going to drop into the 50s, there's an 80% chance of rain today and a stiff wind in the 20mph range is going to come up as well.

The Tour is taking it seriously. According to this post by PGATOUR.com's Helen Ross, groups are being sent out very early -- to quote, "Players will be sent off Nos. 1 and 10, and Mickelson, Watney and McNeill will bring up the rear at 8:46 a.m. ET." That may not be enough, since weather.com's hourly forecasts say the rain could start around 7am ET.

So is Phil right? We'll have to see. But it certainly looks as if today's round could get rained out... and if it does, Phil just might become the favorite. I'd sure like his chances in a playoff.

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