Phil Mickelson is wearing all black on Sunday at the Masters because he hopes it will spur him to hunt down flagsticks.
“It also helps me get more aggressive,” Mickelson said Saturday after a third-round 5-under 67 that has him five shots behind leader Jordan Spieth at 11 under par. “Studies have shown, like NFL teams. When they wear black, they have more penalties. That’s what I need to do tomorrow – play more aggressive.”
Mickelson wasn’t trying to B.S. The science he cited is real.
A 1988 study conducted by Cornell University found that football and hockey teams that wore all black uniforms were penalized more than teams that had uniforms that weren’t monochromatic black. When those teams that had worn all black switched to a different color scheme, the number of penalties called on them went down significantly. That increase in penalties had as much to do with how the referees in each sport perceived the teams wearing all black as how the players saw themselves.
Perhaps that’s why Mickelson has worn at least a black shirt in all five of his major title wins, donning all black Sunday outfits for the 2010 Masters and 2013 Open Championship.