04 Jul 2022

Opinion: Forget Rory McIlroy - Phil Mickelson should be in Lahinch for Irish Open

Opinion: Forget Rory McIlroy - Phil Mickelson should be in Lahinch for Irish Open

Phil Mickelson, a life member of Lahinch, should be at the Irish Open

THIS week, I will attempt to give you the benefit of my own, hard-hitting golf wisdom instead of quoting others. If you don't agree, so what? I'll count my lucky stars I am not running for election. The majority of people who attend major events like the Irish Open know little about what they are there to see. Watching the golf action is secondary. It is far more important to be seen than what they see.

Professional golf is like a circus; it travels from country to country in the hope of sucking it dry of whatever money is made available. In my opinion, it is rarely worth the disruption.

Any benefits are not long lasting such as: watching players better than me, at work on the practice ground; studying their routines, set ups and rhythm and doing my best to 'steal' what I observe for my own benefit.

That is all I ever get from a professional golfer without paying a fee. Golfing excellence is relative. You don't have to be a professional to know quite a lot, especially if you have been a player and observer for sixty years.

Those who say you cannot appreciate the pressure the pros have to contend with are plain wrong. You don't have to have competed at the highest level to appreciate top professional players.

Just because I can't do something doesn't mean I don't understand it. Pressure is pressure and nerves are nerves! If pros felt more of either than a humble Pierce Purcell player under the gun they'd implode and be unable to function.

In fact, pros shouldn't be that nervous for the simple reason they know they can play the shot - a 'Purceller' mightn't. That is why my advice is stick to what you know you can do - no heroics. Instead of throwing darts at the absent Rory McIlroy who has no emotional connection whatsoever with Lahinch, never having competed in the South of Ireland (probably because golfers from Ulster have tended to look on it as the 'weakest' of the Irish Provincial Championships, which was certainly the case when the format was all match play) why is it that we do not hear a word about Lahinch's honorary life member, Phil Mickelson, being pursued more vigorously by the Tournament Host, Paul McGinley, to play in the upcoming Irish Open?

It's Phil (far more than Rory) who 'owes' Lahinch a favour. Surely, the onus is on Phil to show some gratitude. Honorary Life Membership is the highest honour a Golf Club can bestow, and it would be an appropriate gesture if Phil played in the Irish Open to acknowledge it?

While, I am no big fan of Mickelson and often refer to him (sarcastically) as 'Fickle, the Cheshire Cat', he does deserve to be recognised as No. 2 only to Tiger Woods as the best golfer in the last thirty years or so and if he came to Lahinch it would light the place up.

The defining factor in a professional golfer (or any sportsman, for that matter) is mentality. I don't know how exactly you can study 'mentality' from a distance but if I could that is what I would do.

If only I did not always focus on my score and the competitive side of golf, I would not be let down time after time. Why is it that I am so slow not to recognise that score is only one part of a multi-faceted game?

If I could focus on the fun aspect, a great shot, a great putt, the outdoors, the wildlife, the fresh air, the camaraderie, the good play of my companions I would not go home feeling frustrated so often.

If I had any sense, every round would be a great round - even with a poor score! If my score was good, I should think of it as a bonus. If I didn't zone in on my score so much golf would never let me down.

If golf was all about fairness and justice the game would be too predictable and deadly dull to watch or play. The essence of the game is bad shots can end up good and good shots can end up bad, some of the time but not all of the time.

It’s easy to be high-minded about a strict adherence towards the rules but, as I have found, it’s not a good way to make friends and influence people. Our modern (sure, everything is grand) spin culture is at odds with what golf is supposed to stand for.

I'm particularly alarmed to see increased incursions into amateur golf by professional bookmaking companies. Once again, our administrators let us down by not placing this unwelcome development out of bounds when it would have been a lot easier to do.

As the Captain of a golf team, I would want fiery and competitive personalities, fellows unafraid to spill blood (their own as well as the opposition's) - fellows prepared to stand up and back themselves.

In golf, you need to become good at not reading too much into results. The goal (should always be) to keep (trying to get) better and see where that takes you. If you get 'enough better' the good results will come.

I agree with what the great Julius Boros once said: By the time you get to your ball, if you don’t know what to do with it, try another sport.

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.