Mickelson credits Tiger for helping him reach his ‘level of success’

Tiger Woods’ impact on the game of golf is undeniable. According to one of Woods’ biggest rivals, however, his impact on the games’ players was equally indelible.

On Tuesday, Mickelson was candid about the influence Woods had on his game, fitness, and overall success.

“I feel as though had Tiger not come around, I don’t feel I would have pushed myself to achieve what I ended up achieving,” Mickelson said, according to Golf.com’s Kevin Cunningham. “He forced everybody to get the best out of themselves. He forced everybody to work a little bit harder.”

Tiger’s dedication to fitness and his commitment to staying in the best shape possible led Mickelson to change his own approach on the physical side of the game, leading Lefty to a career littered with trophies.

“I don’t think I would have had the same level of success had he not come around.”

Thursday’s opening-round action of the PGA Championship from Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., will mark the 100th major tournament of Mickelson’s storied career.

courtesy of Flip Livingstone (The Score)

Thanks for the memories: the 14 greatest Phil-Bones moments

May 26, 2017; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Phil Mickelson gets direction from his caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay before teeing off on the 9th hole during the second round of the Dean & Deluca Invitational golf tournament at Colonial Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-327610 ORIG FILE ID: 20170526_pjc_si4_894.JPG

Twenty-five years and 41 Tour wins later, one of golf’s most enduring relationships is over. As Phil Mickelson and his longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay part ways, we look back at 14 of their most memorable moments together.

PHIL, BONES. BONES, PHIL

As in a Hollywood bromance, the two meet cutely during a practice round at the 1992 Players Championship. Bones is caddying for Scott Simpson, who is playing with Gary McCord and a certain four-time All-American out of Arizona State. Phil has his father, Phil Sr., on his bag. After the round, Phil is signing autographs when he turns to Bones. “Are you interested?”  Um, you think?  “I mean, everybody was,” Bones recalls.

AN AUSPICIOUS DEBUT

Their first on-course action together takes place during the sectional qualifiers in Memphis for the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Qualify, schmalify. Phil shatters the course record with Bones at his side.

THE FIRST WIN OF MANY

Phil already has one Tour win to his name: the 1991 Telecom Open, which he captured as an amateur. His first victory with Bones, though, comes soon enough. It’s at the 1993 Buick Invitational at Riviera, where Phil closes with a 65 to win by four.

WHAT A CATCH

Mickelson swings left but he throws right. A reminder comes before the final round of the 2001 PGA Championship, where he and Bones, like father and son, play catch in the parking lot.

FROM ONE GOLF NERD TO ANOTHER

“Caddying at a molecular level,” David Feherty calls it, after microphones capture a not-atypical conversation between Bones and his man at the 2012 Northern Trust Open in L.A. Should Phil hit a normal hook? A rounded hook? A standard “Pelz”? What about the wind? The ball could come it hot, or “side-slash” toward the flagstick. On and on it goes. Their chat is catnip for golf nerds. As for the shot itself? Ho-hum. Six feet from the cup.

FAMILY FIRST, BUT PHIL A CLOSE SECOND

It’s 2008, and Mackay’s brother, Tom, is getting married in Vermont—on the Saturday of the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. Phil tells Bones to take the week off. Yeah, right. Instead, Mackay attends the morning wedding, then charters a flight back to Boston so he can loop for Phil that afternoon.

IT IS HIS TIME? YES! (AND BONES’S TIME, TOO)

After 12 years together and many close calls, it finally happens: trailing by three on the back nine on Sunday, Mickelson puts on a closing charge that culminates with a dramatic birdie bid on 18. The putt drops. Phil and Bones embrace in celebration of Mickelson’s first major win.

THE BREAKING POINT?

In announcing their split, Mickelson emphasized that no single incident led to the decision. But you know the Internet: people speculate. One moment commentators have zeroed in on took place on the 17th tee at TPC Sawgrass during the second round of this year’s Players Championship, where Phil and Bones engaged in a testy exchange over club selection. (“I understand what I need to do,” Phil said at one point. “I need numbers right now.”) Mickelson wound up hitting a hard wedge. Bones had reportedly suggested nine-iron. The ball found the water behind the island green.

A READ HE’D LIKE TO DO OVER

If caddies could take mulligans, Bones says he would like to take another crack at reading Phil’s birdie putt on the 17th hole at Pinehurst during Sunday’s final round. Bones thinks it will roll straight. The ball breaks right. Bye-bye, birdie. Mickelson winds up losing to Payne Stewart by one.

THE SELF-INFLICTED MASSACRE AT WINGED FOOT

On the cusp of winning the U.S. Open, Phil pulls driver on the 18th tee and blasts an errant shot into the trees. A failed attempt at an aggressive recovery shot later, and Mickelson is on his way to a double bogey, his title hopes dashed. “I’m such an idiot,” Phil says afterwards. Asked about the incident later, Bones says that given a second chance, he wouldn’t advise his man any differently.

THE SHOT

Sunday at the 2010 Masters. Phil’s tee shot finds the pine straw to the right of the 13th fairway. Two-hundred seven yards from the pin. A narrow gap between the trees. Rae’s Creek awaiting a sloppy shot. Bones raises the possibility of laying up. Mickelson is having none of it. “So I back off,” Bones recalled later, “and now we’re waiting for the green to clear.” The rest is history. A six-iron rifled to four feet, and a shot that lives on in Masters lore.

THE TEND HEARD ‘ROUND THE WORLD

Is Phil kidding? No, he’s not. During the second round of the 2017 Masters, Mickelson asks Bones to tend the flagstick for him as he plays a 61-yard wedge shot on the 13th hole, something he also famously did on the closing hole at Torrey Pines in 2011.

MONTEZUMA’S REVENGE

Under ordinary circumstances, Mackay would no sooner miss a tee time than John Daly would miss a meal. But circumstances aren’t normal at the 2017 WGC-Mexico Championship, where a stomach virus strikes Bones before the start of play on Friday. Bones starts the round but is too ill to finish. “You can’t replace somebody like Bones,” Phil says. But in what looks in retrospect like foreshadowing, Phil’s brother, Tim, fills in for Bones on the bag.

A WEEPY END TO AN OPEN

There’s not a dry eye on the 18th green at Muirfield as Mickelson captures the Claret Jug. After an emotional embrace, player and caddie walk off the course together, arms over each other’s shoulder. Phil is obviously choked up. Bones is shown on camera, wiping away tears. You were probably dewy-eyed, too.

  • Courtesy of Josh Sens (golf.com)

Mickelson details what needs to happen for him to play U.S. Open, and now we wait

Phil Mickelson closed the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a 68.

Phil Mickelson closed the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a two-under 68 on Sunday, but when he plays next is anyone’s guess.

Mickelson said earlier this month he plans to skip next week’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills in order to attend his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation in California, which is the same day as the opening round in Wisconsin. Mickelson is a U.S. Open victory away from the career grand slam and has finished as the runner-up in the event six times.

After his round on Sunday, CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis asked Mickelson what needs to happen for him to make his tee time on Thursday, which is 3:20 p.m. EST.

“I need a four-hour delay,” Mickelson said. “I need a minimum four-hour delay most likely. That’s the way I kind of mapped it out. I should get into the air right around my tee time or just prior, it’s about a three-hour-and-twenty-minute flight, and by the time I get to the course I would need a four-hour delay. Last night there was a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms on Thursday; right now it’s 20 percent. Who knows. … It’s not looking good, but it’s totally fine.”

Mickelson, who hasn’t seen or played Erin Hills, added that he plans to keep his game sharp the next few days just in case.

courtesy of Josh Berhow (golf.com)

Phil Mickelson thrills crowd with over-the-trees shot

Phil Mickelson had some high-flying thrills for fans during Round 3 of the WGC-Mexico Championship.

We’ll never get tired of Phil Mickelson doing Phil Mickelson things. He didn’t disappoint during the third round of the WGC-Mexico Championship, either.

Mickelson treated crowds to two chip-ins for birdie earlier in his round, but it was his high-flying tree shots that really got the fans riled up.

Sitting one shot off the lead at the turn, Mickelson sent his tee shot on the 10th way left towards an adjacent fairway. But upon going to search for his ball, neither he, nor caddie Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay, nor officials could locate it. It was determined that a fan had picked up his ball, so Mickelson was free to take a drop without penalty. The challenge? There were rows of people and impossibly high trees in the way.

No problem for Mickelson. He sent his second shot high over the top, landing it just feet away from the hole. Unfortunately, he missed his birdie putt — but the par save was one for the Lefty books.

courtesy of EXTRA SPIN STAFF

“Bones, hold the pin.”

At the par-5 finishing hole during the 2011 Farmer’s Insurance Open, Phil Mickelson did something that made everyone’s jaw drop.

He had his caddie, Bones, tend the pin.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “What’s the big deal? He always tends the pin for Lefty with longer putts.”

But this wasn’t a long putt. In fact, this wasn’t a putt at ALL.

This was a 72-yard wedge, over water, to a hole tucked front left of the green. And Phil was so confident in his yardage, he had Bones tend the pin.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But when he pulled the trigger, Phil put that shot within a foot or two of the hole.

When asked later about it, this is how he responded:

“I wanted to give it 2 chances to go in. I’m trying to fly it in, and if it doesn’t fly in, it’s going to skip and I want to bring it back in. When I get a wedge shot of 72 yards, I can usually fly it to within a yard 95% of the time.”

Unbelievable.

But that’s Phil. His short game is one of the best ever, and that’s a HUGE reason why: he knows, without a doubt, his yardage with a wedge to within just a few feet.

So let me ask…do YOU?

Because if you’re struggling with your distances, here’s 3 quick tips to help you dial it in better.

* First of all, have all your lofts checked by a professional. Even a degree or two off can mean a big-time difference in how far you could be hitting.

* Then get on the range and hit 10 balls with each club to a specific yardage target, carefully monitoring how far each shot goes. Eliminate the shortest and the farthest shots, then add up the distances of the remaining balls and divide that number by 8 to get an average for every club.

* Finally, dial in your scoring clubs by marking off your distances from 8-iron to your highest lofted wedge and hitting 10 balls with each club to a target within those distances. After a few weeks, you should be able to get within 10 yards of each target pretty consistently.

This is how the pros like Phil do it. They hit thousands of balls to discover the perfect yardage for every club. And not with just a full swing either, but with half swings, knock downs, wind, muddy lies, sand, deep rough, hard pan, you name it.

And that’s a lot of work!

However, there’s an easier way to dial in your distances–without having to pound balls until your hands are bleeding and your back is screaming in pain.

It’s called the Swing Caddie, and you can find out more about this amazing new technology right here.

Phil Mickelson on how Tiger Woods has changed

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods go way back as one of the most beloved and fiery golf rivalries of all time. But as veterans of the game, they’ve come to respect and like each other both as competitors and teammates. And according to Mickelson, that was no more apparent than at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated’s Alan Shipnuck for a GOLF.com podcast, Mickelson practically gushed about Woods’ transformation off the course, especially in the Ryder Cup team room.

“He’s really fun to be around now,” Mickelson said. “He’s very thoughtful and detail oriented, but more than that, he’s been very approachable and helpful with a lot of the guys.

“I think for a number of years, he felt – and I don’t know this – but I think he felt as if he were to open up in these team events, he would be breaking down that aura that he’s built and the intimidation he’s built and could affect his career in some of these tournaments by that one week, and so has always been kind of held back or reluctant.”

According to Mickelson, Woods’ ideas during the Ryder Cup were instrumental in the game plan that helped deliver the Cup to the Americans after eight years of European domination. One example Mickelson mentioned was moving the tees back on par-5s when shorter hitters were playing, so they could take advantage with their strong wedge play. And, for the bigger hitters, moving the tees up so they could attack the green in two.

“I don’t know what it is but the last three or four years he’s been much more approachable and engaging with the guys and really fun to be around,” Mickelson said. “Guys grew up, on the team, idolizing him and watching him, and to have him support you and talk to you and be with you has been really fulfilling.”

It’s not just the personable Woods that Mickelson admires. Asked whether or not Mickelson thinks Woods will win again, he didn’t hesitate.

“Oh yeah,” Mickelson said. “He’s too good not to, unless physically something holds him back. He’d just out-ball-strike guys and he would win tournaments that way even not putting that great. He would win tournaments out putting everybody even if he didn’t strike it that great, because he was such a great putter and (had a) great short game. But when he did them both together, he just spanked everybody and won by 15 like the 2000 US Open.

“He doesn’t have to be the best he’s ever been at to win tournaments because his talent level is so high and I think it’s much easier to do it again than it is to do it for the first time.”

TOUR & NEWS Phil Mickelson Will Bag Major No. 6: Bold Prediction For 2017

Phil Mickelson 13th tee
Golf: 2016 British Open
Round 4 Sunday
Royal Troon/Ayrshire Scotland
07/16/2016
GFP-22 TK5
Credit: Kohjiro Kinno

Phil Mickelson will play the 2016-17 season as a 46- and 47-year-old PGA Tour veteran, but age won’t stop him from winning a major in 2017.

He hasn’t won a major (or Tour event) since the British Open at Muirfield in July 2013, but that will change in the coming months. A player with his resume, which includes 42 career Tour wins, isn’t going to get skunked for the remainder of his 40s. Mickelson is too good for that, and his recent play justifies it.

Just last year he ranked eighth on Tour in total strokes gained (1.364), ninth in strokes gained putting (.565) and fifth in strokes gained approach to green (.726). His scoring average (69.582) ranked fifth and was his best since 2008, and he was seventh in birdie average (4.06).

At this point in Mickelson’s career, the sharpie comes out and circles the same events every year. He wants to win majors; his game skyrockets on the big stage. He fired scintillating rounds of 63 and 65 at the Open at Royal Troon (where he was second to only Henrik Stenson’s marvelous display), and who could forget his 10-birdie, nine-under 63 versus Sergio Garcia in Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup?

There is a slight reason for concern since Mickelson had a second surgery to repair a sports hernia in mid-December, which followed the first operation in October. Still, it was taken care of this offseason and, assuming there are no more setbacks, Mickelson should have enough time to regain his form in the coming months. Mickelson’s spokesperson T.R. Reinman said on Monday that, “Phil is feeling fine,” but he couldn’t say with certainty if Mickelson would be ready for his next expected start, the CareerBuilder Challenge on Jan. 19-22, where Mickelson is the ambassador. Reinman added that he fully expects Mickelson to be ready for the Masters.

Speaking of the Masters, Mickelson’s missed cut at last year’s event means little. Except for a tree planted here or a tee box shifted there, Augusta National rarely changes. It’s still essentially the same course where Mickelson won three times and tied for second in 2015. He has 11 Top 10s there.

If he triumphed at Augusta, Mickelson would be the oldest Masters winner ever. Nicklaus won his 18th and final major at Augusta in 1986 at 46 years, two months and 23 days old. Mickelson, if he were to win the 2017 Masters, would be two months shy of his 47th birthday (June 16). He’d also join Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer with four green jackets apiece, tied for the second-most behind Nicklaus.

As for the other majors of 2017: U.S. Open site Erin Hills is a bit of an unknown to pros, but a victory there would allow Mickelson to complete the career grand slam. The British Open is at Royal Birkdale in England, and Mickelson finished T19 at the 2008 Open there (done in by a first-round 79). The PGA Championship will be at Quail Hallow Club in Charlotte — which has hosted a Tour event since 2003 — and it should present a golden opportunity for Mickelson. He’s played 13 events at Quail Hollow since 2004, and he has nine Top 10 and six Top 5s. He’s finished worse than T12 just twice and has never missed a cut. In three of the last four years he’s finished tied for fourth twice — the past two tournaments — and third once (he was one shot out of a playoff in 2013).

But a major motivator for Mickelson should be the return of Woods. His rival for the majority of his career, Woods’s return will steal pre-tournament headlines everywhere he goes. The prideful Mickelson doesn’t want to be an afterthought. And in 2017, he won’t be.

BY JOSH BERHOW. Courtesy of golf.com

 

After Split with Butch, Phil Mickelson Is Already Working With New Coach

Getson-9Well, that didn’t take long.

On Wednesday, GOLF.com reported that Phil Mickelson and Butch Harmon had split up after eight years of working together. They had been the most high-profile player/coach duo on Tour—and a highly successful one, netting 12 wins, including two majors, in their time together. By Thursday morning, a report had surfaced about Mickelson’s potential new teacher.

GolfDigest.com first reported through sources that Mickelson and Andrew Getson, an instructor at Greyhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., have been working together since Mickelson and Harmon separated. The report did not include confirmation of the partnership from either Mickelson or Getson, and it was initially unclear whether Mickelson has coronated Getson as his official swing coach or if they’ve just been working together casually. GOLF.com has indepedently confirmed that Mickelson will be working with Getson as the five-time major champ preps for his 26th year on Tour.

So … who is Andrew Getson?

The 41-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, has worked at Grayhawk since 2009. After a standout record as a teenager, Getson accepted an invitation to attend the Victorian Institute of Sport’s golf program (like other accomplished Aussies such as Geoff Ogilvy and Stuart Appleby.) He turned pro in 1999 at age 25 and played all around the world on several Tours, joining the Nationwide (now the Web.com) Tour in 2006. In his bio on his website, he says Greg Norman is golfing hero and that he likes to eat M&M’s the night before a big round.

He lists playing golf with President Bill Clinton as his biggest thrill in golf.

That part of his bio might soon need updating.

courtesy of Coleman McDowell (golf.com)

Phil Mickelson Splits From Longtime Coach Butch Harmon

butch harmonPhil Mickelson and his longtime swing coach Butch Harmon are parting ways.

“I’ve learned a great deal from him in our eight years together,” Mickelson said in a statement to Golf.com. “It’s just that at the moment I need to hear new ideas from a different perspective.”

Mickelson and Harmon had been a formidable team since 2007. Soon after joining Harmon’s stable, Mickelson won the 2007 Players Championship. He went on to win 11 more PGA Tour events under Harmon’s watch, including the 2010 Masters and 2013 British Open.

Since raising the Claret Jug more than two years ago, however, Mickelson has struggled to find his form. He is winless during that stretch, with just five top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour. He has plummeted to 25th in the World Ranking and required a captain’s pick to make the 2015 Presidents Cup team.

Mickelson is rarely anything but optimistic about the state of his game, but in recent months he has had to field an increasing number of questions about his struggles inside the ropes.

“It’s more than having just the physical game to win golf tournaments,” Mickelson said at the PGA Championship in August. “You have to be mentally focused, manage your game well. All those factors you have to put together to be able to compete at this level because now the level is so high and the misses are not as big as they used to be with the equipment. You have to be on. You’re not going to get by with anything less than your best.”

The split represents a rare hiccup for the 72-year-old Harmon, whose superstar stable has grown in recent years to include the likes of Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Jimmy Walker.

In a statement issued by Mickelson’s camp, Harmon said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Phil and we’ve had great success together. Helping him win the Open Championship in 2013 was one of the pinnacles of my career. I see nothing wrong with him seeking advice from another source. We’re great friends and always will be.”

Despite the split, Mickelson remained complimentary of his former coach, noting, “Butch is one of the great teachers in the history of the game and I believe he deserves to be in the World Golf Hall of Fame.”

courtesy of Alan Bastable (golf.com)

 

 

Hank Haney Backs Tiger, Phil as Future Ryder Cup Captains

tiger_philBrandel Chamblee Says Tiger, Phil Are ‘Undeserving’ of Ryder Captain
Golf analyst Brandel Chamblee knocked the notion of granting Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson Ryder Cup captaincy, calling them ‘undeserving’ of the role.

Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee might think Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson don’t deserve to be Ryder Cup captains, but Woods’ former coach Hank Haney could not disagree more.

During his SiriusXM radio show on Friday, Haney joined 2016 Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III in support of Woods and Mickelson as future leaders in the event.

“Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are just such iconic figures in U.S. golf and golf, period,” Haney said. “If they wanted to be the captain of the Ryder Cup, at any time, I wouldn’t even hesitate for two seconds, and they would be the captain.”

Haney did say the two future Hall of Famers should take separate turns as assistant captains rather than serving together, but that, of course, depends on their success as players in the coming years. Both aging stars struggled in 2015, and Woods announced in September that he will not return to the PGA Tour until 2016 as he recovers from another surgery on his ailing back.

Haney, however, still has plenty of confidence in his former client.

“I think Tiger can still win a golf tournament for sure,” he said. “I don’t know how you don’t pick him [for a Ryder Cup team].”

courtesy of golf.com

Phil Mickelson Uses Wrong Ball, U.S. Penalized 2 Holes

Phil2The International team won two holes in one at the Presidents Cup on Friday thanks to two mistakes involving Phil Mickelson.

The first mistake belonged to Mickelson, who used a different type of golf ball than he had been using in his fourballs match with Zach Johnson against Jason Day and Adam Scott. The second mistake belonged to the rules committee, who told Mickelson he was disqualified from the hole.

The result? The International team went from all square to 2 up in one hole.

“It’s a strange situation,” said Mark Russell, the vice president of rules and competition for the PGA Tour.

The one-ball condition means that players cannot switch golf ball models during the round. The penalty is known as a one-hole adjustment. So when Mickelson realized he was playing with a different ball, the International team was to be awarded one hole at the conclusion of the one they played.

Match referee Gary Young consulted with the rules committee, and Russell said he told him that Mickelson was disqualified from the hole. Russell said he checked with other officials on the committee and they concurred.

Only later did the committee realize it had given Young the wrong information. Because the penalty already had been assessed – the one-hole adjustment – Mickelson should have been allowed to finish the hole. He was in the fairway, 292 yards away on the par 5.

Day wound up making birdie to win the hole, and the match was all square after six.

Russell said once a shot had been played, the committee could not go back and have Mickelson finish the hole because “allowing a correction could potentially undermine the strategy” already in play by both teams.

“It’s just unfortunate that he was told he had to pick up the ball,” U.S. captain Jay Haas said. “Had he been able to play out and make a 4 and tie the hole, then it would only have been 1 down instead of 2 down. But that didn’t happen, so nothing you can do about it.”

What’s yet to be determined is why Mickelson had two different models of golf balls in his bag.

“He was not angry,” Haas said. “Just, ‘Hey, rookie mistake, my fault, captain.’”

Phil Mickelson Called Suzann Pettersen After Solheim Cup

The Presidents Cup - Singles MatchesAmong those who reached out to Suzann Pettersen after the Solheim Cup controversy was someone who knows international drama all too well, U.S. fan favorite Phil Mickelson.

And, according to Pettersen, it was a lengthy conversation.

In an interview on Golf Channel’s “Golf Central” Wednesday night, Pettersen reflected on the incident that ruled the aftermath of the Solheim Cup, when U.S. player Alison Lee thought a putt on the 17th green was conceded only to have Pettersen argue it wasn’t. Pettersen and Charley Hull won the fourball match 2 up, but the U.S. won the cup 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.

During the interview, Pettersen said Mickelson called her Sunday night — not long after the matches concluded — and they talked for “hours.” They both work with Butch Harmon.

“One of the first players to reach out to me was Phil on Sunday night,” Pettersen said. “I don’t know how I can thank him enough for the words and the hours on the phone, the conversations we had for the good and bad. This went both ways. He wasn’t just trying to pat me on the shoulder, ‘like this will be fine.’ He asked me some critical questions, and I had to answer them. We all kind of ended on a good note.”

Mickelson, who will play in next week’s Presidents Cup, is no stranger to controversy during international events.

courtesy of Josh Berhow (golf.com)

 

Can Phil Mickelson Reclaim His Game at the Presidents Cup?

The Presidents Cup - Singles MatchesWhen Jay Haas used his final captain’s pick to add Phil Mickelson to the U.S. Presidents Cup team, he cited Mickelson’s vast experience in team events and the outpouring of support from other pros on the squad. Phil’s reputation and popularity may have been enough to punch his ticket to Korea next month, but can he recapture his old form when it counts?

Between 2004 and 2008, Mickelson won three major championships and nine other PGA Tour events, finishing in the top six in scoring average every season. During this peak from age 33 to 38, Phil was clearly one of the three best golfers in the world, and while he fell to 10th between 2009 to 2013, he still won two majors and six other tournaments over those five seasons and remained an obvious contributor to team competitions. But since his 2013 Open Championship victory, Mickelson hasn’t won a single event in 45 attempts and rarely finds himself in the hunt.

A good way to measure overall performance is to look at how often a golfer beats the field average by 15 or more strokes over the course of an event. Past research indicates that players win an average of roughly a third of tournaments in which they play that well. Between 2009 and 2013, Mickelson reached this elite level fifteen times on both the PGA and European Tours (about 13 percent of his starts). In 2014 and 2015, he only played that well twice in 40 events (about 5 percent of his starts) and both of those performances came in majors — at the 2014 PGA Championship and 2015 Masters.

Of course, this level of decline is not uncommon among golfers in their 40s, as the average player tends to lose one full stroke between ages 35 and 45. Mickelson’s scoring average has gone from 69.3 between 2004 to 2008 to 70.4 in 2014 and 2015. Thus, his decline with age has been exactly what we would expect based on the career trajectories of other golfers.

Phil%20Mickelson%20-%20Scoring%20Average

Also typical of most aging players, Mickelson’s decline has been concentrated in his long game (approach shots and drives). Based on Mark Broadie’s Strokes Gained stats from PGATour.com, Mickelson declined from +0.9 strokes gained per round on tee to green shots in 2009-11, to +0.7 strokes gained per round in 2012-13, to +0.4 strokes gained per round in 2014-15.

Mickelson’s touch with his irons and wedges has also failed him lately. The PGA Tour’s proximity to the hole stat measures how close, on average, each approach shot comes to the pin. Phil’s numbers have declined across every distance (wedges, short irons, and long irons) between 2009-13 and 2014-15. He struggles to control his approach shots more than he once did, resulting in fewer birdie opportunities and tougher two putts for par.

What’s worse, Mickelson’s ability to recover from drives into the rough, the talent that bolstered the legend of “Phil the Thrill,” has all but disappeared. In fact, in each of the last six seasons, his rank in proximity to the hole from the rough has been better than his rank in proximity to the hole from the fairway. But that magic seems to have escaped him this year, as he is now one of the PGA Tour’s worst players coming out of the rough. Simply fixing that part of his game might provide the spark he needs to be a positive contributor in Korea.

There are reasons for optimism. Evidence suggests that Mickelson can raise his game in the most important events. He has clearly reversed his poor career record in team events over the last three Presidents Cups and last three Ryder Cups — winning 16 points over 25 matches. He also remains one of the best at raising his play in major championships. Over the last eight seasons, only Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy have a better scoring average in majors than Mickelson.

He’ll have to rediscover that big-game magic in Korea, or his most important contributions will come in the clubhouse.

courtesy of Jake Nichols (golf.com)

Mickelson, Haas Picked for Presidents Cup

U.S. skipper Jay Haas used his Presidents Cup captain’s picks on his son Bill and Phil Mickelson on Tuesday.  There’s already some controversy when it comes to the Presidents Cup, and it centers around Phil Mickelson.

On Tuesday U.S. captain Jay Haas used one of his two captain’s picks to select Mickelson, putting Lefty on the team for the 11th time. He used the other pick on his son, Bill Haas, who was the highest-ranked player not to automatically qualify.

Thing is, Mickelson has just four top 10s in the past two years and hasn’t won since July 2013. With the addition of Bill Haas, the U.S. has the top 11 players based on points followed by an outlier in Mickelson, who is 30th.

So was keeping Mickelson around, perhaps for his experience and leadership, the right choice? Or should other players–JB Holmes, Brooks Koepka, among others–have been picked? Cast your vote below!

Was Phil Mickelson deserving of Jay Haas’ Presidents Cup captain’s pick?

courtesy of Golf.com Staff

Report: Phil Mickelson linked with illegal $3 million gambling scheme

phil1A report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Monday has linked golfer Phil Mickelson with a nearly $3 million sports-betting scheme with an “illegal gambling operation” based outside the United States. The report, which is based on court documents and various sources, notes that Mickelson has not been charged for his alleged involvement, but adds the man who reportedly handled his money pled guilty last week.

According to the article:

A 56-year-old former sports gambling handicapper, acting as a conduit for an offshore gambling operation, pleaded guilty last week to laundering approximately $2.75 million of money that two sources told Outside the Lines belonged to Mickelson.

Gregory Silveira of La Quinta reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering of funds from an unnamed “gambling client” of his between February 2010 and February 2013. Sources familiar with the case said Mickelson, who was not named in court documents, is the unnamed “gambling client.” Silveira is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips and faces up to 60 years in prison, though the sentence will likely be far shorter.

courtesy of Luke Kerr-Dineen (U.S.A. Today Sports)