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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Some Quick Thoughts on Tony and Phil

Neither Tony Romo or Phil Mickelson made the cut at the Safeway Open, but I think the reasons are very different.

Phil Mickelson

First, I'm giving Tony a passing grade. I know it's popular with golf fans to complain when Tony gets a sponsor invite, but it's easy to forget that Tony's struggles come in part because of fan complaints when he was still a quarterback. Cowboy fans complained that he spent too much time playing golf -- he was trying to qualify for the US Open back then -- so Tony backed off to focus on his football. (And, as it turned out, on recuperating from football injuries that eventually ended his career.)

Tony was pretty good back then. Now he's trying to get back to where he was before the refocus and the injuries. This week he had his best showing yet. The fact that he's showing improvement after just four starts is encouraging to me. (Bear in mind that his improvement in the celebrity events is even more marked.) And it was pretty clear from his post-round interview that the pressure to make the cut after his best tournament round yet got to him.

It just happened at a venue where everyone was going low. It's not all that often that the cut is -2.

I'll give Tony a pass on that. He'll learn to deal with it soon enough, just as he did when he was a quarterback.

But I think Phil's problem is much simpler, though it's a lot harder to fix.

Surely you've all noticed how much better Phil is looking these days. He's really trimmed down and I suspect he's a lot healthier. But we also know that when players make noticeable changes to their bodies, their games also change... and not always for the better.

There are exceptions for sure. I'd point to Scott Stallings as an example of someone whose body changes had a positive effect on his game. But Scott's game was suffering before the changes.

Not so for Phil. He's always had a great swing, and I suspect the slimmer body has thrown his timing off considerably. Among other things, when you lose weight you tend to become a bit more flexible; there's just less padding to obstruct your movements. The effort that used to turn you about this much now turns you a little farther, so your feel has changed just enough to mess you up.

Will Phil get it fixed? Perhaps. Some players successfully work through it. Many players end up just putting the weight back on, either because they decide that will give them their game back or just because they got depressed and started eating everything in sight! But either way, don't be surprised if Phil struggles for a while.

At least he won't struggle this weekend. I'll be interested to see how he plays next time he tees it up though.

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