Right about now, in a normal year, Phil Mickelson would be chatting up his annual attempt to win the U.S. Open, the only major he hasn’t won, and that would be the only real topic, and he’d be charming, if you like his kind of shtick, like he was auditioning, as always, for the network analyst job he’s seemed forever poised to slide into when he retires from competitive golf.
This is not a normal year. He’s here in Brookline, playing in the Open this week for a 31st time, and all anybody wants to talk to him about is the LIV. He’ll play the Open Championship next month, too, but his next tournament on the PGA Tour or Champions Tour could be far in the future — or never.
He was charming, we suppose, in his news conference this week, and he stood up and owned it, more or less, without really answering why. Will we ever see him on our television sets with a headset on? The networks and their advertisers, and the sponsors who dropped him hard when he pitched his circus tent in the LIV, will have a lot to say about that.
So will Jay Monahan. Did you see the commissioner in his interview with CBS on Sunday? He was pissed.
Since you didn’t ask, we’ll go ahead and tell you the ultra-smart pick to win the U.S. Open is the only player in the World Top 300 whose surname is a third-person present-tense verb. The guy outlasted World No. 1 in a playoff three weeks ago for his fourth win in the last 14 months, which jumped him into the Top 10 in the world. His name is Sam, and he’s hot. You might even say he Burns.
Should Mickelson contemplate changing to a verb-y last name, he might think about Phil Shoots, like, his mouth. Or Phil Scores, as in the 200 million bills he glommed for leaping to the LIV. Or, if he was totally unoriginal and trying to borrow some mojo from a very good and much younger player, Phil might even try on Burns, representative of all the bridges he’s torched and might never rebuild.