By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It wasn't the ultimate victory for fans of Phil Mickelson, but it was awfully close.

"Phil-natics" were out in force early Sunday afternoon as he made a charge for the ages to win his first British Open, coming from seemingly nowhere to win going away.

And while Phil was draining birdie after unlikely birdie - he ended up as the only player in the field under par - Tiger Woods, the anti-Phil, was unraveling once again at a major championship.

It still feels weird to write that sentence, Tiger falling apart at a major (especially since he already has four wins this year at various faceless PGA Tour events), but it's true.

Tiger has lost his mojo and his quest to overcome Jack Nicklaus for the most major titles remains stalled at 14.

But for Tiger to fall apart, and to have Phil surge to the Claret Jug, had to drive Woods crazy.

Of course, he'll never admit it, and he praised Mickelson's stunning final- round 66, but it had to eat at him like bad haggis on a Saturday night.

Let Lee Westwood win his first major, or Ian Poulter, or even have Adam Scott win his second major of the season and that would have been OK.

But Phil? Anybody but Phil, Woods had to be thinking.

Perhaps Mike Tirico summed it up best early in Sunday's telecast when he compared the reactions of Mickelson and Woods to poor shots.

Tiger had an approach from the middle of the fairway, and before the ball was barely off his club, he let out one of his trademark expletives for the world to hear.

Seconds later, after a poor approach of his own, Mickelson turned to his caddie, Bones MacKay, and, for all the world to hear, blamed himself for the bad swing.

At that point, Tirico commented on the glaring differences between the two and he was spot on. Tiger drops a curse and Phil takes the blame for a bad shot of his own, but doesn't need foul language to do so.

Is it any wonder why America loves Phil and so many watch Tiger just hoping to see him lose?

Mickelson is real. He smiles, shrugs, slaps hands with the gallery and wears his emotions on both sleeves.

Tiger is a robot, albeit one with a potty mouth, that acts like the world is just getting in his way.

Alas, the only thing that didn't get in Tiger's way in Sunday's final round - a round he began just two shots back of Westwood for the lead - was the hole.

Woods limped in with a lumpy 74 and finished in a tie for sixth. For most any golfer, a tie for sixth in a major is cause for celebration. For Woods, stuck at 14 majors since winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, a tie for sixth might as well be a tie for 60th.

And then there was Phil.

It was only a little over a month ago at Merion where he fell apart in the final round of the U.S. Open and ended up in second place for the sixth time.

So, with that collapse still fresh in the minds of the "Phil-natics," could any of them see a 66 coming? A brilliant 66 that saw Mickelson birdie four of the last six holes, including a capping 10-footer for birdie on 18 that all but sealed the win.

From five shots back to start the final round to winning by three shots over a stunned and flustered field, Mickelson sewed up his fifth major title and further cemented his place in golf's hierarchy.

Plus, he has to go to Oak Hill for the PGA Championship (which is only a little over two weeks away) as the favorite to win.

The "Phil-natics" can't wait.

The Tiger faithful, well, they can't be thrilled with the way things are going.

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