After his Safeway Open second round Phil Mickelson made clear he’s going to play less in 2018-19.
Reason one, as reported by PGATour.com’s Cameron Morfit, centers around fatigue and managing his energy levels as a 48-year-old.
Then there was layer two of his views, expressed after experiencing light rough in Napa following the excess of Le Golf National where silly wedge-out, injury-inducing nonsense was harvested successfully to mess with Team USA. Kevin Casey at Golfweek with the quotes:
“It’s a unique situation in that the way the Europeans did a great thing, they did the opposite of what we do when we have the Ryder Cup here. The fairways were 14 to 16 yards wide. Ben Hogan, who is the greatest ball-striker of all time, had a five percent margin of error. So if you hit the ball 300 yards, which we all hit it more than that, you need to have a 30-yard fairway to be able to hit it.”
Let’s put the breaks on here for a minute. I don’t recall many 14 to 16 yard wide areas in the main landing areas, or anything under 20 yards. I paced off about 10 landing areas and the Europeans generally gave one are of width, though they also engaged in chintzy (perfectly kosher) tactics of rolling an area like the left side of the first fairway to reduce a swatch of 30 yards to effectively playing 25.
Here’s where Mickelson and Team USA do deserve some credit: the setup was structured so that an extremely errant drive—except down across the 7th hole OB as Patrick Reed found out—could find the spectator areas.
They very easily could have taken tee shots on multiple holes at the chalets and spectator areas well off play, taken a free drop on the hardpan, and shown up the European setup. Thankfully, they did not in the interest of sportsmanship and given the horrible injury suffered by a spectator.
The second point by Mickelson is a gift. For those who have explained how distance gains are a burden on golf courses, he effective explains how more width is needed to accommodate drives over 300 yards. More width means more acreage for turf, more acreage means more cost.
As for his scheduling around high rough, this does not bode well for a Torrey Pines start to the 2019 season given that it has some of the highest on the PGA Tour:
“And I’m 48. I’m not going to play tournaments with rough like that anymore. It’s a waste of my time. I’m going to play courses that are playable and that I can play aggressive, attacking, make a lot of birdies, (the) style of golf I like to play.”
He certainly is wise to schedule that way.