Planet Golf — 30 August 2017 by GW staff and news services
Feel-good Phil finds his game in Boston

NORTON, Mass. – Phil Mickelson must be feeling better. He wanted to practice after shooting a 4-under 67 on Saturday.

“I haven’t done that in a while,” Mickelson said, “because I’ve been so tired after the round.”

With renewed energy and increased focus after a recent visit with his doctor, Mickelson has found his game through the first two rounds of the Dell Technologies Championship. He followed an opening 69 with an even better score in Saturday’s second round, leaving him inside the top 10 at TPC Boston.

Not since early March at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship – when he was tied for second through 36 holes – has Mickelson been in such a favorable position at the halfway mark. The 69-67 start is the first time in nearly three months that he’s produced consecutive sub-par rounds.

“It’s fun to get in contention,” Mickelson said, adding, “it’s been a good first two days.”

The timing couldn’t be better for his Presidents Cup hopes. Mickelson entered this week 18th in the standings, with a remote, yet mathematical, chance to squeeze into the top 10 with a win and earn one of the automatic spots that are finalized following Monday’s final round.

His more likely path to Liberty National would be as one of the captain’s picks, to be revealed on Wednesday night. Last month, U.S. Captain Steve Stricker challenged Mickelson to show him something, but there’s been very little to point to … until this week.

Will it be enough for Mickelson to maintain his record streak of having appeared in every Presidents Cup?

“Well, he needs to do what’s best for the team,” Mickelson said of Stricker. “He needs to get the best guys on the team. These are fun events, but they’re also important and we want to win. As a captain, it’s his job, responsibility, to make the tough decisions and do what’s in the best interests of the team – and I support that either way.

“I would love to be the one he felt added to the team, but if I’m not, he’s got to make the tough call. I totally understand it. I’ve had a tough time for a while, but these two rounds – although they’ve been great – I don’t know if that’s enough or not. Let’s see how the weekend goes and we’ll go from there.”

Mickelson went public at the PGA Championship with his problem about being unable to visualize shots. He said he was making swings without purpose or direction. The problem continued to worsen, prompting him to see a doctor.

While he hasn’t revealed the exact details of the remedy, he’s definitely feeling better. In fact, he said he’s never felt better this year, pointing to his chip shots at the 17th and 18th holes Saturday as proof.

At the par-4 17th, his second shot landed in the primary rough between the green and the left-side bunker. He chipped to 2 feet for the tap-in par.

At the par-5 18th, his second shot was also left of the green, 69 feet from the pin. Using his 64-degree wedge – “I can get underneath the ball and stop it a lot easier than a lot of guys who don’t have that club,” he said — his chip landed inside 3 feet for an easy birdie.

“That’s exactly what I’m talking about,” Mickelson said of those two chips. “I haven’t been able to see how I want the ball to come off while I’m hitting it. When I’m looking at the ball, I usually have a mental picture of the shot and visualizing the shot, and then my bod reacts to that – creates the shot. I haven’t been doing that. I’ve just been blindly hitting the shot.

“But my short game has been phenomenal this week and yet, I really haven’t done anything different other than being able to see the shot that I’m trying to hit.”

Mickelson has made just one bogey in each of the first two rounds, nearly the best in the field. He came into the week ranked 134th in bogey avoidance on the PGA TOUR.

No doubt Stricker is somewhere taking notice. But for one of Mickelson’s playing partners this week, the decision is a no-brainer.

Lucas Glover played with Mickelson on two Presidents Cup teams and said the American team fed off his competitiveness. “If you’ve got an option to have him around on or off the team, it would be a benefit,” added Glover.

No one’s ever questioned Mickelson’s competitiveness. Given his productivity the first two rounds at TPC Boston, it’s getting more difficult to question his readiness.

 

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