(Photo via edition.cnn.com)
“The game feels easy again” were the words Phil Mickelson told reporters last week before the AT&T Pro Am at Pebble Beach. Those were the words that made every golf fan smile.
Phil Mickelson is one of the greatest to play the game of golf. He is already a Hall of Famer as of 2012. He has made a staggering $78, 659,810 in on course earnings, among his 42 PGA Tours wins, including his 5 majors (US Open don’t even go there). He is 9th all time in PGA Tour wins, which is even greater in an era of long-ball hitters and young talent. But more importantly, Phil is the fan favorite no matter where he goes
But the years are catching up. As fans, it’s truly saddening to see our favorite players age. We saw it with Derek Jeter, we’re seeing it now with Kobe Bryant, and Phil unfortunately looked like he was headed down that path based on his performance over the past two years. This year, Phil looks to change that. Out of the gates, the 2016 season for Phil gives him a third, T11, and second place finish for his first three tournaments, all in which he was in contention for.
Last season, Phil parted ways with his long time swing coach extraordinaire, Butch Harmon. For some, change is bad *cough, Tiger, cough.* But for others, like Phil, change is positive. He has started to get his mind off of his swing quirks, and is back to swinging the club like he knows how to…like a boss. Lately, over the past few years, Phil had been struggling in terms of hitting fairways. This year, he’s been hitting over 60% of FIRs, which has been his best number in a dozen years. His putting is back to the comfortable way he is used to, rather than tinkering with grips and claw grip and anything else he tried to do in the past few years.
Fortunately for Phil, Golf is a sport that doesn’t force you to stop before you turn 30. You stop playing not even when you can’t win anymore, but when it is no longer fun, no matter what age. Lefty turns 46 this summer, and it’s good to see him playing well and in good spirits with the game. As David Duval said the other day, “He’s made a few adjustments to what he does and how he goes about the game and how he thinks about the game and got a new coach and is fired up as anything, excited to play. That’s a big thing for a player who has been playing for 25-plus years of professional golf and everything that he’s accomplished. He needed almost something new to get him fired up”. Well Phil has something to fire him up. He’s got the Olympics and Ryder cups spots to compete for. And of course, the US Open.
Will this be the year Phily gets it done and completes his Grand Slam? Either way, we’ll be watching.
Thumbs up for you, Big Lefty.
– M. Fritz