What I'll Remember About 2013: Phil's shot at history

November 24, 2013
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM

PGATOUR.COM asked its staffers and writers what they will remember about the 2013 season. For the archived list of essays and a complete review of the season, click here.

Ten months later, it’s hard to recall a more memorable moment in golf from 2013.

Phil Mickelson positions himself over his golf ball in front of thousands of anxious fans, not a peep among them, knowing that golf’s iconic number hangs in the balance on this final Thursday in January. You can hear the desert wind blow and a random siren echo in the background. That’s it.


The crowd at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is on their tiptoes, angling to take in history. A group of employees at the PGATOUR.COM offices, myself included – and undoubtedly employees in a host of offices across the country – lean toward the edge of their seats expecting to witness history from one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game.

Mickelson finally swings his putter back and through 25 feet from the hole.

“Get in the hole! Gooo!” the crowd shouts as the noise grows exponentially by each foot the ball travels toward the cup. Mickelson points his putter squarely at the hole and starts walking – this is it, everyone thought – before the unthinkable happens.


Mickelson’s putt for a 59 catches the right-side of the cup and circles 180 degrees around the hole before settling an inch away. He grabs his head in disbelief. His caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, falls to his knees in shock.

"Six feet to go, it was in the center," Mickelson, who tapped in for a first-round 60 en route to winning the tournament three days later, said. "Three feet to go, it was in the center. A foot to go, it was in the center, and even as it's approaching the hole, I couldn't envision which side of the hole it could possibly miss on, and it ended up somehow just dying off at the end, catching the lip."

With the possible exception of watching one of the game’s best strike a putt to win a big tournament, I can’t imagine anything more exciting than watching one of the best putting for a 59, a feat that was accomplished later in 2013 by Jim Furyk.

Mickelson, who played at nearby Arizona State, had the crowd in the palm of his hand that Thursday. Looking back, I can’t help but think how similar watching Mickelson’s penultimate putt tracking toward the cup with 59 on the line is to watching Kobe Bryant or LeBron James taking a final shot or Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady lofting a last-second pass into the end zone.

Win or lose, make or miss, that’s sport at its finest.