I was on the 12th hole yesterday with my group of Trevor Immelman, Will MacKenzie and Josh Teater when I heard over the radio Phil Mickelson had withdrawn from the Valero Texas Open. Something about a pulled oblique muscle was the initial reason being talked about over the radio. Sure enough, word spread quickly around the course because over the next two holes, I had at least five spectators ask me if it was true Phil had withdrawn.
In all honestly, Phil was setting up this WD perfectly all week. In every interview this week, he always said he was trying to “hit the ball hard” in preparation of getting ready for The Masters coming up in two weeks. So right on cue, in the statement released after the WD, he said he was trying to “hit the ball hard” and pulled an oblique.
I pulled a muscle on my downswing trying to hit it hard on the first hole (the 10th of the round), It just killed and it wouldn’t subside for 10 or 12 seconds.
Also mentioned in the statement Phil says he’s heading back to San Diego for a couple days to get it looked at and he doesn’t know if he’ll be ready to play in the Shell Houston Open.
This withdraw is unfortunate for San Antonio and the Valero Texas Open. Phil Mickelson is the biggest name this tournament had in the last few years. Yes, Rory McIlroy was here last year but Phil Mickelson is still a bigger name that Rory in my opinion. I am also on the biased side here with being irritated with this WD because I am from San Antonio and I enjoy going to this tournament. I am a die hard golf fan so I will go to the tournament whether Phil is playing in it or not. But for the casual golf fan, they want to see stars.
It’s clear that Phil didn’t want to be here in San Antonio this week. I mean he as much admitted so when saying in interviews he’s just “not hitting shots conducive to this golf course.” What this means is he shoots 77 in the first round because all he cares about is trying to hit shots that he will need at Augusta, not San Antonio. He followed up his 77 on Thursday with a 70 on Friday, which ended up getting him to the weekend right on the cut number. (funny how that works right?)
Here’s the thing. I am tired of these guys withdrawing because of little injuries. Sure, they may all be legitimately hurt, but I am a cynic when it comes to these things. The big names in the game of golf, and I am talking about the top 20 players in the world, all care about the majors exclusively. That’s all they talk about and it’s all they design their schedules around.
The big name players withdrawing in the middle of a tournament absolutely devastate PGA Tour events. The marketing efforts surrounding these big names once they commit to a tournament are the same marketing efforts for Kobe Bryant and Lebron James coming to an NBA arena near you. When a fan or spectator find out these big names are coming, they buy tickets to see the big names and the big names only. The casual fan doesn’t care about seeing the 187th ranked player in the world, they want to see Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.
It’s time to make these guys realize their commitment to playing a tournament means something to the city, fans and charities supported by them coming. Here’s my solution.
If you withdraw from a tournament because of an injury, you have to automatically sit out for the next three events, and if that includes a major, then so be it. on top of that, you also should have to be examined by a PGA Tour doctor and follow a rehab program laid out by the doctor until after your three week hiatus is completed.
I know this proposal is outrageous and will never be implemented. But something dramatic has to be done to discourage these guys from withdrawing. Again, it devastates tournaments who go crazy when they land a big name. If Phil Mickelson would have dialed back his “swinging hard” yesterday after the oblique pull, he could have completed the round with a 75% effort swing. A 75% swing from Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are still better than completely leaving the tournament. He could have then gone to get treatment after the round and been examined by specialty doctors here in San Antonio who surely are on call if needed when someone like Phil Mickelson calls.
I can pretty much guarantee Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson would not be withdrawing from the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open or PGA Championship if they would have experienced the same “injury” as they did in the Valero or Honda Classic.
What do you think? Do you have a suggestion to discourage WD from these PGA Tour pros? Let me know below or hit us on Twitter @Front9Back9.