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‘I love that side of Phil’: What Brandel Chamblee admires about Phil Mickelson

In the the latest episode of GOLF Originals, host Michael Bamberger leads NBC/Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee on a U.S. Open tour of sorts, making multiple stops at historic golfy spots in and around Philadelphia.

Those spots included Merion Golf Club, host of the 2013 U.S. Open won by Justin Rose and, you could argue, lost by Phil Mickelson. Indeed, you can’t talk about modern U.S. Opens without talking about Mickelson, whose six runner-up finishes continue to make him an intriguing storyline, even this year.

Chamblee has been critical of Mickelson for turning his back on the PGA Tour, but as he and Bamberger revisited the site of one of Mickelson’s most costly errors — his hooded wedge on the par-3 13th at Merion — Chamblee revealed that that moment encapsulated a lot of what he likes about Mickelson.

“The things that make you great, you can’t turn those off,” Chamblee said. “And with Phil, for all the criticism he gets about flushing that wedge over the back of the green — I mean, he won 45 times and six major championships. So to what credit do you give his curiosity and the incessant nature to know everything that you need to know about his game, is given to those 45 wins in six major championships. So if he loses one along the way, I would say it’s a net huge positive.

“That’s what sports are all about, you know, giving it your all, and data be damned.”

Chamblee said Mickelson’s go-for-broke style is becoming more of a rarity in the modern game, where players are more reliant on safety and taking less risk — and that’s kind of a shame, because players like Mickelson are more fun to watch.

“There’s less sense of bravado in the game,” Chamblee said. “And everybody’s more or less being coached to the middle. I’m not criticizing it. I understand it, but I think people pay to see, stop what they’re doing to watch, people who dare to be different. And that’s what Phil was.

“Look, I have my criticisms of Phil, but I’ll never criticize his golf, or him taking risks, or him trying to outsmart the game,” Chamblee continued. “As much as people want to criticize him for thinking he knows it all, I always found him to be very fascinating.

“I love that side of Phil, that curiosity.”

For more U.S. Open insights and commentary from Chamblee, check out the full episode of GOLF Originals below.

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