THIS SHANGHAI ADVENTURE had everything in it except Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu. You had a lurking Tiger. You had a hard-charging Big Easy. You had a strong cast of young stars: Nick Watney, Rory McIlroy and Ryan (don’t call me Roger) Moore. It was one incredible Phil ride, with plot twists and a highly charged ending. Could it be any other way with Lefty in the mix?
And if you live on the U.S. East Coast (like I do), you had to stay up until 3 a.m. to see the finish. I only made it to 1 a.m. but caught part of the replay on Sunday afternoon.
Phil Mickelson’s victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday brought his 2009 win total to four. The last time Lefty had a four-win season was in 2005 when he won the PGA Championship. He appears to relish his opportunities to go head to head with Tiger. He certainly doesn’t appear to be intimidated. Actually, Phil showed the kind of resilience in the final round that we’re used to seeing from Tiger, who struggled mightily on the opening nine and was never a factor. He finished in a tie for sixth with Martin Kaymer.
What’s up with Tiger? The putts aren’t dropping. He’s supremely hacked off. That’s certain.
It was Ernie Els who could have, should have, would have stolen the prize had he been able to negotiate the lake fronting the 18th green. His play was brilliant up until that point. He was on his way to a 62 or 61. Of his 5-wood shot that splashed down well short of the putting surface, Ernie said he “basically duffed it.”
The event was a huge hit in Shanghai. Massive galleries lined the fairways on Sunday at the Sheshan International Golf Club.
“Sunday’s was the largest crowd to watch a professional golf tournament in China—by far,” wrote Shanghai-based writer Dan Washburn at ESPN.com. “Some estimates put the total at around 18,000 fans, more than double the official number for Saturday.”
According to reports I read and from what I saw on the telecast, the Chinese fell hard for Phil. He might now be more popular than Chan and Liu put together. Stay tuned. There will be a sequel.
−The Armchair Golfer
(Image: van der Chijs/Flickr)