Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mickelson Can't Let Go of Driver

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mickelson Can't Let Go of Driver

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

Phil Mickelson apparently has the answer to his golf game: play other sports.

The day before the final round of the PGA Championship last week, Mickelson took a side trip a few minutes away from the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., to visit the Buffalo Bills training camp.

Mickelson hung out, and tossed a football around with some of the Bills players. If you're wondering where is my one-liner -- the ultimate major championship bridesmaid golfer hanging out with the ultimate Super Bowl bridesmaid team -- it's simply because it's too easy a shot.

(OK . . . I can't resist it: What's the difference between Scott Norwood's field-goal attempt against the New York Giants in the 1991 Super Bowl and a Mickelson tee shot down the stretch of a major? Norwood's kick at least landed on the same playing field).

Then, we learned on the eve of this week's World Golf Championship NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio, that Mickelson showed up a few hours before game time at the home park of the Akron Aeros, the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Mickelson took some swings in the cage, then asked Aeros manager Brad Komminsk if he could pitch batting practice.

Confident after a few throws, Mickelson pulled three $100 bills out of his pocket, and offered up the booty to any player who could take him deep. None did.

"They were swinging, they just couldn't hit it out," Komminsk said. "He mixed it up. He threw all kinds of pitches -- fastball, curveball, a little cutter, he had a split. And he wasn't telling them what was coming on top of that."

Would that Mickelson mix it up that well on a golf course. Instead, the PGA Championship showed that he's the same one-trick pony: if the deep drives stay straight, if the risky lob shots around the greens nestle close to the hole, he's a threat to win anywhere, with anyone in the field, Tiger Woods included.

That's what happened in the first round, when Mickelson shot a 4-under-par 66 that included a bogey on the final hole. …

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