Rozner: Mickelson in the booth a must for golf

  • Phil Mickelson watches his birdie attempt on the 13th green during the second round of the U.S. Open Friday at Winged Foot.

    Phil Mickelson watches his birdie attempt on the 13th green during the second round of the U.S. Open Friday at Winged Foot. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/18/2020 2:12 PM

Phil Mickelson has had one of the great careers in the history of golf.

This is not in dispute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He's a Top 15 golfer all-time, having had the misfortune of playing much of his 29 years on Tour chasing that Tiger Woods guy around the planet.

Still, with 44 wins only eight players have won more and with 5 majors only 13 are ahead of him.

Quite a career.

He is, however, 50 years old, and his opportunity to win on Tour will dwindle with every passing day, as evidenced by his 13-over par in two days at the U.S. Open. It is not for lack of skill or desire, and certainly not work ethic, but the calendar is undefeated.

It attacks a golfer's body, weakens the mind and frays the nerves.

Mickelson could play more on the Champions Tour, where he won in his first start a few weeks ago by a couple touchdowns, but you wonder if that will hold his attention.

Phil needs a thrill, the proof in his passion for gambling and insane lob wedges from impossible lies. Maybe the broadcast booth would give him a shot of adrenaline.

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It is the next logical step -- if he so desires.

Mickelson would be the Tony Romo of golf analysts and worth the millions he would demand for such a position in a game that desperately needs someone with his personality.

Nick Faldo is terrific on game day, but with Johnny Miller and his honesty in retirement, the landscape is rather barren. Golf Channel's "Live From" each major is magnificent, the likes of Brandel Chamblee, Justin Leonard and David Duval providing fearless analysis, but the tournaments themselves are missing Miller's sharp commentary.

Not only would Mickelson bring the truth, but he would bring humor and experience having just played all of these courses, and having played with all of the current players.

His former caddie, Bones Mackay, does that now, offering on-course assessments that are pointed and relevant.

Mickelson's stories would be incredible and occasionally cross the line, similar to Charles Barkley, an edge that most golf broadcasts seriously lack.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

One could easily imagine him working into the conversation the 2004 Masters, the Winged Foot disaster in 2006, the embarrassing meltdown at Shinnecock two years ago, or anything involving Woods.

He would know the odds on every player, probably talk matchups and Top 10 possibilities -- as they frequently do on European Tour broadcasts -- and with sports gambling becoming more prevalent by the day, golf can't have too much of that.

This is not to say his golf career is finished. If he hangs around another 10 years, there's likely to be another victory or two, and he may yet threaten in another major.

Tom Watson nearly won the British in 2009 at age 59, and would have if not for a bad bounce on the 18th green after hitting a perfect iron at Turnberry.

But to hear Mickelson break down a short-sided, 60-degree wedge from the rough over a bunker with no room to land it downhill would be worth whatever a network could pay him.

When he spent a few minutes in the booth with Faldo and Jim Nantz after his third round of the PGA Championship last month it was wildly entertaining and unpredictable, just like Mickelson every time he puts a peg in the ground.

You never know where it's going.

Put him in the booth and he'll still be hitting bombs all over the course, making doubles when all he needs is a par and sinking 40-foot, triple-breakers when it seems impossible.

There has rarely been a more obvious choice for a job the day he decides he wants it.

Of course, no athlete would rather talk about a game than play it. There is no substitute for competing and especially winning.

The question is whether he will ever want to give up golf, to give up a sport that thrills him and has thrilled his legion of fans for decades.

It can't be easy to give up something you've been great at for three decades, especially when they're still chanting your name as you walk from green to tee.

But as he gets older, one can certainly imagine him with early tee times at Augusta or the Open Championship, grabbing a shower and a quick lunch and then explaining in detail each hole as he heads to the booth for the afternoon wave with the leaders coming home.

How good would that be?

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