Phil Mickelson worked through some serious struggles in the 2017 PGA TOUR season, but heading into the new year, he’s rejuvenated and ready to win again.
Phil Mickelson has just come off one of the least productive and least satisfying years of his 25-year PGA Tour career. In fact, since his victory at the 2013 Scottish Open, followed immediately by the 2013 British Open, he is winless. Not only that, he had just five top tens in 22 starts last season. He missed the cut in the last three majors of 2017. It was beginning to look like the beginning of the end of Mickelson’s PGA Tour career.
Even Mickelson thought there was something wrong, so he went to see the doctor who worked with him when he was diagnosed with the arthritis condition that he has.
“I feel like my physical game has been where I want it, but I’ve had a difficult time with my mental focus and energy level,” he said at the Dell Technologies, where he opened with a 69.
"“This is the best energy I’ve had throughout the round and the best focus; the first time I’ve been able to visualize,” he added, declining to discuss his personal medical situation. “Today, and for probably the last few days, I’ve been able to see the shot again. And so it was a good day.”"
That was the first of September. He said his focus problems and energy levels had been an issue for six to eight months, and it had been a frustrating experience because he couldn’t practice the way he wanted to due to low energy, and he couldn’t see shots.
What propelled him to see the doctor was, in his words, “It just wasn’t getting better. It was getting worse.”
Mickelson overcame a broken leg, which he got skiing, a wrist injury he got while trying to hit out of the rough during a pre-tournament visit to Oakmont in 2007, and more recently he learned to live with psoriatic arthritis. Like everybody, he has something. But this was a new problem, something that he had never encountered.
"“I didn’t think it was a medical thing,” he added. “When I’m looking at the ball, I usually have a mental picture of the shot and visualizing the shot, and then my body kind of reacts to that; creates that shot. I haven’t been doing that. I’ve just been blindly hitting the shot.”"
The only explanation he could give people for what it felt like was being really tired and going to bed and not being able to get out of bed for a day or two.
“I have been in bed for days this year, I mean, multiple days, just with fatigue. Three or four days at a time, I can’t get out of bed, and that’s not normal,” he admitted.
Then at the Dell, there was the start of the turnaround. He was thrilled.
“I played very steady, consistent golf for four days,” he explained. That was true. He shot 69-67-69-68.
"“I didn’t have any five-, six-hole stretches where I fell off. That has been happening and it didn’t happen this week,” he added. “I feel a lot better after the round. I’m not overly tired. I practiced after the round a couple of times this week and last week; I haven’t done that in a while. It’s all positive signs.”More from Pro Golf NowGolf Rumors: LIV set to sign Masters Champion in stunning dealFantasy Golf: Grant Thornton Invitational DFS Player SelectionsBrutal return leaves Will Zalatoris looking towards 2024Stars You Know at World Champions Cup Starts Thursday at ConcessionFantasy Golf: An Early Look at the 2024 Masters Tournament"
The negative was that there were only two more weeks left in the official PGA Tour season, and because of his less than stellar play, he had to do some heavy lifting to try to get to the Tour Championship, which in the end, he was unable to do.
"“I feel like I’m on the right track finally and finally figured out what has been — I’ve been complaining about for some time now, and I finally feel like I’m on the right track to solving that,” he concluded. “It might be too little, too late, but it’s not for me — at least I know I’m on the right path. So, whether it really clicks this week or next year, whenever, I know that I’ll get it back.”"
Mickelson ended the season 51st on the FedEx Cup points list.
After the Presidents Cup, he entered the first tournament of the season, and he had a chance to win, finishing T3, his best since the dramatic battle with Henrik Stenson in the 2016 British Open where he finished second. While 2017 ended too soon for Mickelson, at least he knows that he can have success in 2018. At the Safeway Open, he said he was looking forward to the 2018 season. His next competitive tournament is the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.
“I’ve done well at that tournament,” he noted, adding that he’d won there twice. “I enjoy that place quite a bit and I’ve been playing well. So, hopefully I’ll keep my game sharp and go over there and try to come out on top there because I feel like I’m pretty close.”
This time, he might be right.
What’s your prediction for Phil’s success – or lack thereof – in the 2017-18 season?