by Jeff Skinner
While most of the golf world was sleeping on Saturday night Phil Mickelson was busy starting his 2010 golf season. The stage had been set for Phil and Tiger Woods to make it a two man show at The HSBC-Champions but Woods imploded on the front nine and yes, 39 on the front is a disaster for Woods. Phil was able to hang on and beat a reenergized Ernie Els and an up and coming Ryan Moore. Els had the lead until his approach at eighteen took a dip in the pond and he made bogey.
Phil wasn’t supposed to be worrying about Ernie, Tiger was supposed to make his patented charge and Phil and Tiger were sure to go low and make it a battle for the ages. But, “the best laid plans…” so when Woods faltered Phil was left to play in the last group with a Tiger that had no chance at beating him.
Phil probably didn’t realize it at the time but he was laying the ground work for a dramatic season next year. Mickelson has been so revitalized since his working with short game expert Dave Stockton that he is playing his best golf in a long time. Phil has now beaten Tiger in their last two meetings and both were red hot during The Presidents Cup. Tiger is no longer unbeatable when he has the lead, thanks to Y E Yang at the PGA and the HSBC was the first time Phil beat Tiger while playing together in the final pairing.
Next year couldn’t look brighter for Phil. With his 2009 year over and four wins under his belt, he’ll shut it down until next year at Torrey Pines and he couldn’t be more excited. “Well, I’m excited about 2010 because I’m starting to play the best golf of my career. And everything is starting to kind of come together as far as my driving, since working with Butch Harmon, my ball striking has been much better. My short game is better than it’s ever been. And going into 2010, not only am I excited about it, but I have very high expectations.”
Mickelson’s season is over and he finished with three straight wins; first at the Tour Championship, a team first at The Presidents Cup and a Tiger beat down at the HSBC. That’s a great way to go into the off season. Phil is looking forward to spending time with Amy and the kids and with Amy on the mend he should be more emotionally settled for his 2010 start.
Tiger has said that this was a very successful season and with six wins who can argue but he isn’t the only player that is confident with his game. Mickelson is playing superb golf and is in a very positive state of mind. With his team of coaches, his new found game, his great outlook and a schedule of majors at historic courses (Augusta, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews) 2010 could be a grand year for Phil. If 2010 could pick up where 2009 left off and Phil and Tiger can rekindle their rivalry, a true rivalry, 2010 will be an amazing year for golf.