by Jeff Skinner
As Phil Mickelson teed off with a share of the lead at The BMW Championship his fans were primed for another win. But even though Phil the Thrill couldn’t deliver his 41st PGA Tour win, Phil’s Fanatic’s shouldn’t be discouraged. Phil isn’t.
Phil is very happy with the way his game right now. “I’m really pleased with the way my game has come around the last two weeks…I really know where I’m headed with my swing, with my ball-striking off the tee, iron play, distance control, wedge, putting — all that stuff feels really good.
“I look at a day like this as just a blip as opposed to a trend. The trend is going up.”
He’s right, the trend is going up. After a good start to the season with a win at Pebble Beach and a second in a playoff at the Northern Trust Open, Phil was primed for Augusta National. But the fourth hole disaster saw to that and he settled for a tie for third.
After that he got more inconsistent and after withdrawing from The Memorial he tied for 65th at The U.S. Open, missed his next two cuts and was back in the pack all the way through the Barclays.
But he made a change to the claw putting grip halfway through his tour of Bethpage Black and that seemed to invigorate him. Since then he has been adamant about his game being very close, just about there. And the past two outings have shown it with a T4 at The Deutsche Bank and his T2 at The BMW.
Sometimes it only takes a little something to get Phil going and it looks like that has done the trick.
He wasn’t happy with his ball striking or his putting yesterday and it cost him. “Everything was just a fraction off,” Mickelson said. “My irons weren’t quite at the pin. They were off a little bit. My putter was 2, 3 inches off my line, just a fraction, just enough to miss.
“I just wasn’t getting in the hole like it was yesterday, so I was fighting it a little bit.”
“The parts of my game are getting better, each one,” Mickelson said, “so hopefully at East Lake I’ll improve the last spot or two and see if I can get the win.”
Phil is in good shape as he sits in fourth place in the FedEx Cup points race and anyone in the top five will claim the FedEx Cup and the ten million with a win at The Tour Championship. Phil has a week off to fine tune his game and find that “fraction” and correct it.
He, and all the players have recognized how significant the playoffs have become. He wants it bad, and so do his fans.