by Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page

Lift

-This past week, all anybody wanted to ask me about was my thoughts on Phil Mickelson’s decision to putt his moving ball last Saturday at the U.S. Open. Should he have been disqualified? Was 2 strokes the appropriate penalty? Was he sending the USGA a message? Was his disrespecting the game? The following was my opinion then, and remains my opinion after his apology he delivered a few days after the tournament. 

I don’t believe for a minute that Phil knew he was going to do that before his first putt. He was trying to make a putt. When it missed, he walked around the hole, and then realized what was going to happen. He acted fast in chasing after that, and then make the rules infraction. It was odd to see one of the game’s greats do something out of character. Phil knows the rules, and has demonstrated the utmost respect for the game. Fellow players respect his knowledge of the rules, and I’ve witnessed young players ask him his opinion on rulings. He carries clout. 

All of that being said, he didn’t carry himself in the best manner that day. It was a bad moment. His remarks explaining afterwards were not taken well by many. Telling the media to toughen up never goes over well. While it’s not what I would have said, I get why he said it. He plays each tournament under the watchful eye of everyone, with great expectations, and a ton of pressure. He was frustrated at an event that has eluded him, coming so close so many times. He’s allowed to be human. 

I believe the penalty he incurred was enough. Disqualification was not appropriate, because I don’t believe he intended to do it going into the hole. The penalty gave him a 10 on the hole. A 10, and a whole lot of embarrassment. That wasn’t enough. He was not cheating, trying to get one over on the field. He did not do something and try to get away without anyone knowing. 

Was it disrespectful? Maybe, but that is a big leap to say about a Hall of Fame player that has earned a ton of respect. Was he sending a message to the USGA? If Phil wanted to do that, he would have done so with the media and done it directly. He doesn’t need to vail messages, but it has been interpreted that way. 

Phil Mickelson doesn’t need me or any other media member, announcer, or golf expert to defend him. He’s Phil Mickelson, and this will blow over, if it hasn’t already. 

-I have no problem with Bubba Watson winning The Travelers Championship for the 3rd time with a final round 63. I just hated seeing Paul Casey struggle in the final round with a +2 round of 72. Casey shot 10 strokes better on Saturday to take a four shot lead into the final round, but couldn’t find an ounce of that magic on Sunday. He is one of the best guys on tour, great attitude, and always fun to talk with. 

It’s hard to win on the PGA Tour, especially with a lead when everybody is chasing you. The pressure mounts. I think that, and a swing that was a bit off doomed Casey on Sunday. The good news is he’ll be in contention again, and likely this season, because he’s an excellent player. 

As for Bubba Watson, he’s the first 3 time winner this season on the PGA Tour. This Travelers win joins his victories at Riviera and Austin CC. All three wins have come on courses that favor shotmakers, of which Bubba is the best of right now. 

Clean

A great junior golf tournament takes place this week at East Aurora CC. The 66th edition of the International Jr. Masters starts Monday with practice rounds and the Ham-Am Tournament. First round action begins Tuesday morning, with the final matches on Friday. Kids from as far away as Australia come to compete in this event that features alumni on the PGA Tour. Among those that have participated in the past are Tour pros Dudley Hart, Jeff Sluman, Joey Sindelar, Jim Gallagher Jr, Billy Andrade, Camillo Villegas, Rory Sabbatini, Jim Furyk, Ryuji Imada, Tim Clark, Trevor Immelman, and Matt Every.  An impressive list. 

The event is free, parking is free, and the members take great pride in the course and the event. If you have a child that enjoys golf, this is a great opportunity to take him/her to an event where they can see kids playing at a high level, and perhaps serve as an inspiration. You see the complete schedule and learn more at  http://www.internationaljuniormasters.com

Place

-I recently got my clubs re-gripped, and what a world of difference. They were like new. Sometimes it’s as simple as a new $10 grip to give you a better feel about your game. Getting clubs re-gripped is not a long process, and you can even do it yourself. You can buy the kits and all the necessary supplies and do it in your garage or basement. However, I suggest you ask your club professional or go to Woods To Wedges in the Wehrle Golf Dome. 

When you go to a shop like Woods to Wedges or your pro shop, you’ll get to try the different options, and there are plenty of them. Do your hands sweat a lot? They have grips for that. Do you like corded or patterned? They have those too. Standard, mid-size, or oversized grips? If you don’t know then you better go and check them out. 

I mentioned $10 per grip. That’s the average. If you can’t afford to do all 13 clubs (your putter is the 14th), get the most frequently used clubs done. Driver, hybrid, 7 iron, and your wedges would be a good start. 

-The registration discount for The Duster Challenge will end soon. Don’t miss out on the savings and this fun charity event. Learn more and register here

Kevin Sylvester

Kevin Sylvester has over 20 years of experience in media, working for stations, professional sports teams, leagues, and national broadcast entities. This experience includes being an announcer for NHL, NBA, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, NCAA Hockey, and The PGA Tour. Kevin also served as the producer for the Buffalo Sabres post-game show, executive producer for a Sabres radio show, and started his own media production company, All Square Media LLC in 2008. All Square Media serves as the executive producer of the Tee 2 Green TV and Radio shows (created by Kevin), handling distribution, sponsorship sales, fulfillment, and production of the shows.

Kevin's business background extends beyond broadcasting. He served as the Director of Amateur Athletics for WNY Arena LLC (Key Bank Center in Buffalo), procuring major amateur sporting events for Buffalo, NY. The major highlights include two sold out NCAA Tournaments First and Second Rounds (2007, 2010), and the 2011 IIHF U20 World Championships (Kevin co-wrote the winning bid, and served on the organizing committee for USA Hockey). Kevin created The Duster Challenge in 2016, a local 18 hole putting competition, and serves as an advisor to WNY golf ball company, OnCore Golf.

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