by Jeff Skinner
It was another great day in the desert for Phil Mickelson. Nobody rules in the desert like Phil. Mickelson graduated from Arizona State and made his home here for a dozen years. While at school and still an amateur he won the Northern Telecom Open (Tucson) and has been beloved by the fans ever since.
Phil was up to his old tricks yesterday at The Waste Management Phoenix Open as he let his six stroke lead melt away to three but he worked his magic to make the day his own Super Sunday. With a new driver that regularly finds fairways and a confidence on the tee he hasn’t had in years Mickelson looked to be in total control of his game. From driver to irons to wedge he was sharp all week. While Phil is thrilled with his new driver it was his putter that fascinated us. From that 360 degree lip out on Thursday to the long bombs he sank on Sunday, Mickelson’s short stick seemed more like a magic wand than a golf club.
Afterwards Mickelson spoke of his new found confidence and used the phrase “I haven’t won in awhile.” Mickelson’s last win took place one year ago last season at Pebble Beach. Now that shows you the mind of an elite golfer, one win a year isn’t enough. Phil expects more from his game and if this week is any indication there is more to come.
Phil was asked “How big is a win this early in the year for the rest of your season?”
“It’s an important one for me, because it’s been a while since I won, been a while since I’ve been in contention. I was certainly nervous heading into today’s final round. I think the thing I’m most excited about was the way I was able to regain control of my thoughts after a few shots early on that I didn’t care for and come back and hit a number of good shots on the back 9 to do what I needed to do to win.
I think that sets up the tone for the rest of the year, because I really started to play well, but for me, the rest of the year took a turn on Tuesday when I got my new driver. It just changed my whole deal. When I stood up here at TPC Scottsdale, water is down the left on a lot of holes, down left on 10, on 15, on 17, and being able to hit those fairways and make birdies and play those holes aggressively, that’s a big thing for me.
The fact that this club is so easy to hit now, I think it’s going to change the rest of the year for me. I really do. My iron play has always been the strength of my game, and it was certainly good this week, but to drive it as easily as I did in play and to have the misses be so much less is going to set up for a very good year, I believe.”
Any golfer will tell you that confidence, or lack of it can be the difference between a winner and a loser. Mickelson is primed with a new driver and a confidence that will serve him well as he heads to Pebble Beach this week.
When Phil was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last year he said he wasn’t done and he had more wins in him. He is proving himself right. This just might be a super year for him.