PGA Monday: Serene At Southern Hills, More Strangeness Off The Course
ESPN tackles the Mickelson absence. Plus, the 17th hole takes on new dimensions, Nicklaus gripes about Trump's lost PGA, Quotes and Reads.
A better than most Monday! Players went about their Southern Hills prep, fans got their first glimpse at the impeccably maintained grounds and the course continued to dry out. Off the course, lunacy continued in the form of flaccid attempts at begrudging Trump Bedminster’s hosting demise and Phil Mickelson’s image collapse. Today’s Quad covers this and, on a lighter note, signs the charming 17th hole will be even more fascinating down the stretch.
ESPN Takes On How Everything Changed For Mickelson
The world of holding rights and working with partners tends to lead to sanitized content, willingly going above and beyond to avoid good television in the name of corporate relations. But with the defending champion only visible in one spot at Southern Hills (above), ESPN did not shy away with the uncomfortable topic of his downfall a year after winning at Kiawah.
Mark Schlabach and Kevin Van Valkenburg filed a must-read piece featuring players on the record wishing Mickelson would come back. And even willing to sound delusional in blaming the defending champion’s self-imposed exile on society at large.
"We're in a cancel culture right now," said Webb Simpson, who considers Mickelson a close friend and mentor. "If you say one thing, or somebody digs up something in your past, they cancel you. There have been many situations out here, and in sports, where a player might have done something wrong, sure we can all agree, but I would rather be in an environment where it's a forgiveness culture, not a cancel culture.”
But as the duo lay out in the piece, the now-infamous Huggan and Shipnuck interviews were only the final straws in the post-Kiawah unraveling when Mickelson should have been basking in the glory of a historic win. Here’s a paragraph for you:
He argued with random users about Jon Rahm's vaccination status; he attacked an investigative reporter from the Detroit News for writing an accurate, if unflattering, story about how a mob-connected bookie had refused to pay Mickelson a $500,000 gambling debt; he suggested his excessive coffee-drinking habit had protected him from catching COVID; he attacked the USGA for rule changes limiting the length of drivers to 46 inches; he criticized the PGA Tour policy board's ban on green-reading books; he claimed that the PGA Tour was holding on to $10-20 billion in "digital moments" that top pros had created; he thanked Elon Musk for grumbling about his $11 billion tax bill; he asked why we couldn't try achieving herd immunity with the omicron variant; he announced (incorrectly) that he'd won the $8 million first-place prize in the PGA Tour's Player Impact Program; he claimed he was considering leaving the PGA Tour because of its "obnoxious greed"; he chimed in to agree when Hoffman claimed an unfair ruling at the Waste Management Phoenix Open was an example of why players were considering other tours. All this occurred before the release of his interview with biographer Alan Shipnuck in which Mickelson implied he was playing LIV Golf and the tour against one another.
There was also this bit of unfortunate imagery given the Saudi Arabia regime’s affinity for lopping heads off in public.
"Obviously, there were some things he said that people didn't like," said Hoffman, who said he considers Mickelson a friend. "It is what it is. You can't take that back. He's a leader in this game, and unfortunately he stuck his neck out and it got chopped off. Hopefully, he learned from it, and everybody respects him and cheers him on.
On the television, side, ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski delivered this essay on the oddity of Mickelson not being here. It ran today on Sportscenter from the PGA and will likely have another airing. But it’s a strong 3-minutes that some media partners would have shied away from.
Golf Channel’s Live From actually offered several solid segments on Mickelson. The coverage kicked off with Rich Lerner’s interview of Alan Shipnuck on the release eve of his Mickelson unauthorized biography. That was followed by strong commentary from Brandel Chamblee, unfortunately offset by indecipherable thoughts from Brad Faxon on previous PGA Tour flirtations with a World Tour. None of the segments were posted at GolfChannel.com as The Quadrilateral went to press.
The Many Ways To Play 17
The drive-and-pitch 17th has long been viewed as one of the best holes at Southern Hills. Some of the sentiment was born out of the links-like fairway contours. But plenty more credit should go to the generally dreary setup of par-4’s during previous majors here—think lots of rough and forest.