Phil Mickelson won’t be welcomed back to the Dean & DeLuca Invitational with open arms

Twice a winner at Colonial Country Club, Phil Mickelson famously swore off the course in 2011. 

If you take what Mac Engel from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has to say as representative, residents of the DFW area are none too keen to welcome Lefty back for the Dean & DeLuca Invitational coming up next week.

Mickelson hasn’t played the tournament since 2010, when he missed the cut. Why not? Well, check out these remarks.

“With the [course] redesign, I’m afraid I won’t be playing it [Colonial] anymore,” Mickelson said in 2012. “It doesn’t give me a power advantage. I know all the shotmakers will be there every year. But I don’t see any of the long hitters playing there anymore. There’s no decision-making now. It’s all irons, irons, irons.”

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In other words, Keith Foster’s reworking of several holes at Marvin Leonard’s venerable Texas track didn’t sit well with Mickelson. He didn’t feel the course suited his style of play and decided to drop it from his schedule.

Fine. But Mickelson was no ordinary competitor in the eyes of Colonial or area golf fans. Indeed, the feeling in Texas is Mickelson failed to show appropriate gratitude toward tournament organizers. And it’s a very touchy subject, because Amy Mickelson’s battle with cancer is wrapped up in the drama.

Here’s how: Mickelson, who won at Colonial in 2008, backed out in 2009 after learning of his wife’s cancer diagnosis. Colonial was understanding and bent over backwards to support Phil, organizing a “Pink Out” during the third round. They did it again in 2010 (this time Mickelson was playing, but he missed the cut).

Mickelson snubbing an event where he won millions of dollars and was the recipient of some very considerate touches isn’t sitting well in the Lonestar State.

The implied question here, and it’s one we deal with every year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is: “Should elite players feel compelled to tee it up in a tournament for reasons other than thinking they can win?” In this specific case, in Engel and company’s minds at least, the answer is “yes.”

And something else not sitting well with folks who have a deep respect for integrity: this exercise in duplicity. Mickelson, as mentioned, missed the cut at the then Crowne Plaza Invitational in 2010. This is what he had to say.

“I played terrible. I don’t know what to say. I hadn’t played the course since the changes and the changes were fabulous. The course was in great shape, there was no wind and there were a lot of birdies out there. I just played terrible.”

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No criticism of Keith Foster’s work there. However, once his deal with Crowne Plaza ended, Phil took a different tack regarding tournament and course changes, making his “I’m afraid I won’t be playing” remarks.

All this by way of saying, there’s a bit of backstory to Phil Mickelson’s return to Colonial. And you can expect some intrepid DFW-area journalist to ask him some tough questions about his 2012 remarks. Thus, Mickelson could find himself in trouble…both on-course and off.

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