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19th Hole

Danny Willett wanted to quit golf during dark period after Masters win

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Danny Willett hasn’t won since his surprise 2016 Masters victory. His recent form has been horrendous, missing the cut or withdrawing in eight of his last 13 starts.

He’s changed swing coaches, battled injury, and admits in a blog post for the European Tour there have been times since winning the green jacket that he “just didn’t want to play golf.”

Here’s are a few of the more interesting morsels from Willett’s blog.

On the aftermath of his Masters win…

“What’s funny is that we, as golfers, spend so much time practicing for those moments, working on our swings, those chip shots, pressure putts, how to deal with being in contention mentally but no one ever really prepares you for what happens next, after you achieve greatness like that. Ultimately I’ll be able to look back on that day and be thankful for all that it has given me but it’s not always easier dealing with the aftermath.”

“After the Masters, every time I went to the range, every time I was on a putting green or in a practice round, there were cameras on you and everything’s being filmed and recorded. That magnifies everything to the nth degree.”

“People that know me, know that I wear my heart on my sleeve and if I’m having a bad day on the course, I’ll show it and if I’m playing well and everything’s great in the world, you can tell. That’s just who I am. When the spotlight was on me constantly, I felt I had to dull that side of me down a little. It’s much harder to show some of that emotion, good or bad, when everyone’s eyes are on you.”

On low points…

“There’s been quite a few low points over the last few months. At the end of 2016 I was in contention in the Race to Dubai and I just didn’t want to play golf. Think about that. It’s utterly ridiculous.”

On remembering his Masters win often…

“After Augusta, I began opening up to friends and people around me and trying to take a look at what I could do to improve. It wouldn’t be an easy few months but I still look back on that dinner and tell myself there was a reason I had a name card and a place at that table. I had earned an invitation and I often find myself remembering that meal.”

“I’d find myself watching YouTube videos. The number of times I’ve watched clips of my final round at Augusta is ridiculous.”

On his ailing back…

“I had to pull out of a couple of events and it became a problem. It was annoying as working out didn’t hurt it, drills didn’t hurt it but firing into the ball at full speed and just being a little off could cause a lot of pain.”

“It ended up taking over my game as I’d be taking painkillers in the morning after waking up in pain, getting an hour of physio before each round, playing the round with a swing that hurt, then needing an hour of physio after the round. I was just knackered.”

On the nature of professional tournament golf..

“Golf is a strange sport. When you’re playing well, it seems very easy but when you’re struggling it feels like all the time on the range makes no difference out on the course. That can be a hard challenge to deal with mentally, especially when you’re traveling week-to-week trying to find that form against some of the best players and toughest courses in the world.

“That being said I’m very lucky to have friends and family off the course that do what they can to keep my on that path to success and help put things in perspective.”

Willet’s entire blog post is more than worth a read. Check it out here.

Few players are truly candid about the ups and downs of the professional game. Willett, going from relative obscurity (in the U.S. at least) to Masters winner, then failing win in the 18 months since is an extreme case.

Certainly, plenty of critics will cite his privilege as a tour pro and suggest he should never complain. Many will question his underlying desire and hammer him for admitting there were times he didn’t want to play golf.

Here’s the thing: Willett is not alone in this experience. Don’t you think Shaun Micheel experienced something similar? Ben Curtis? Willett is singular in having the courage to be transparent about his struggles as he continues his effort to improve and follow up his Masters win.

You’ve gotta root for him to do just that.

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19th Hole

WATCH: Phil Mickelson gets the Happy Gilmore meme treatment

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Maybe it’s too soon to find humor in the Phil Mickelson’s behavior on the 13th green during Saturday’s third round of the U.S. Open.

That said, the initial image of one of the game’s greats running after his golf ball and playing hockey in the manner of a child at mini golf was both shocking and humorous to most observers.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the meme producers at SPUN have put together this riff on Mickelson’s putting and post-round remarks, leveraging footage from the great golf masterpiece “Happy Gilmore.”

Check it out.

 

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19th Hole

Hot takes on Phil Mickelson’s Saturday antics continue to fly

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Yesterday, Phil Mickelson played a bit of field hockey on Shinnecock’s 13th green that continues to be the talk of the golf world… Mickelson didn’t do much to quiet the murmurs with his refusal to talk to the media following his final round and his celebratory antics after a made putt at that hole, Sunday.

Regarding the left-hander’s violation of Rule 14-5, we have a thread that’s 18 pages long and 516 replies deep at the time of this writing. It spans the full spectrum of opinions, from staunch support for Phil to outright condemnation.

A poll among golf WRXers saw 41 percent of responders say Mickelson should have been disqualified. 49 percent said he shouldn’t have. 9 percent said Mickelson should withdraw.

MtlJeff had this take

“Imagine if a young player did it. We’d be ready to euthanize all millennials for their horrible tantrums.”

Ssfranny said

“I have to kinda think Phil just gave a big middle finger to the USGA and pin placements.”

Teetogreen

“Frustrated as he may have been, he’s no better than the field. Everyone has to play the same course. I know Phil’s a fan-favorite, but that was wrong and disgraceful.”

Nessism said

“Pure frustration. I feel sorry for him. A momentary lapse of awareness will now cost him endless scritany for years to come.”

Golfgirlrobin quickly perceived what would be Mickelson’s eventual explanation

“Or maybe brilliant. Ball goes all the way down the green into the fairway and taking the penalty might actually have ended up being the better play.”

HolyMoses said

“Phil said he hit the moving ball intentionally so it wouldn’t get behind the bunker again. If he’s that defiant, he should be DQ’d. That’s cheating, plain and simple.”

Moving from WRXers’ takes to a few from other realms.

On Twitter, Lee Westwood played the devil’s advocate with this slippery slope (appropriately) argument.

“Here’s a scenario…Thoughts everyone??? here you go….. over the back on 15 at Augusta. Chip it too hard, run over before it gets to the water and knock it on the green so you don’t have to hit it again or go the drop zone!”

Writer Alan Bastable introduced the specter of Rule 1-2.

“Meanwhile, just two years after the DJ rules fiasco at Oakmont, the USGA blue coats were left to explain to the world why Mickelson hadn’t been disqualified for such an egregious breach of the rules. Indeed, under Rule 1-2, the Committee could have deemed that Mickelson’s actions gave him “a significant advantage,” and therefore warranted a DQ. “I would have lobbied for disqualification,” former USGA executive director David Fay said on the Fox telecast.”

The portion of Rule 1-2 Bastable referenced states.

“A player is deemed to have committed a serious breach of Rule 1-2 if the Committee considers that the action taken in breach of this Rule has allowed him or another player to gain a significant advantage or has placed another player, other than his partner, at a significant disadvantage.”

Golf Channel’s Randall Mell discussed Mickelson’s communication with Mike Davis late Saturday after some scribes floated the idea that the golfer ought to be disqualified.

“Phil really did want to understand how the rule operates,” Davis said. “Frankly, as he said to me, `Mike, I don’t want to play in this championship if I should have been disqualified.’” Davis said he assured Mickelson that Rule 14-5 was correctly applied, and that a two-stroke penalty is all that was required.”

With respect to the claims that Mickelson ought to withdraw, ESPN’s Ian O’Connor wrote this.

“There was a problem with Lefty’s story — a fairly big one. His playing partner, Andrew “Beef” Johnston, said he told Mickelson, “Sorry, but I can’t help but laugh at that. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.” Johnston also had this to say of his exchange with Mickelson: “He said, ‘I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what score that is or what happens now.’ And he started speaking to the rules official. It was one strange moment.”

“The standard-bearer with the group, Connor Buff, a 19-year-old from Smithtown and a student at the University at Albany, said he heard Mickelson tell the rules official, “Whatever I get, I get. Just let me know what it is.”

In other words, according to O’Connor Mickelson was both attempting to gain advantage and, for what it’s worth, lying about his thoughts during the field hockey moment.

And of course, Global Golf Post’s John Hopkins.

Amy Mickelson told Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols

“He has been pretty under fire,” she said. “A lot of people have been pretty rough. … . It’s not like we’re in his shoes and understand what he has gone through. You and me, we are looking at it from the outside, sitting in the press room or family dining. … They’re playing sports for a living, but still in the moment it’s a very heavy week, an intense week. A lot happens over the course of 24 hours every day.

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall wrote this about Mickelson’s mock celebration at the 13th, Sunday. He could just as well have written it Mickelson’s explanation and the whole ordeal

“His critics would call it the act of a charlatan. His fans would say he was being an entertainer. Part of the Phil Mickelson Experience is not knowing which is right.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Is there more to be said about the matter? Or, with the U.S. Open wrapped up, should be draw the curtain on all this as well? Do any other takes merit mention?

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19th Hole

See what today’s stars look like with Corey Pavin’s 1995 mustache. Hilarious!

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Surely, you’re familiar with Skratch TV’s efforts.

Launched in 2015, the PGA Tour/Bedrocket joint venture was billed as “golf’s first internet video network,” and it has grown into something pretty special in the golf mediaverse.

However, the producers of Adventures in Golf and a buffet of entertaining social media content have truly outdone themselves with the following.

Well played, Skratch. Well played.

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19th Hole

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