Back 9: PGA Tour — Where is Phil Mickelson?Written by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Phil Mickelson will be making his first 2012 start this week at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, California. This will be the first year that the Bill Clinton Foundation is a part sponsor of the event. Clinton has used his considerable influence and has been rewarded with a much improved field for the old Bob Hope Invitational tournament. Along with Mickelson, Anthony Kim, Dustin Johnson, and Greg Norman will have a try at the $900,000 first place prize.
The last time we saw Phil Mickelson was at Royal Melbourne in the Presidents Cup. This will be the first time since 2007 that Phil has played in the Palm Springs event.
Phil did not win a major title in 2011 but did get his 39th career win at the Shell Houston Open in April, was T-2 at the British Open, made 20 of 21 cuts, had seven top 10’s and finished 15th in the year end FedEx Cup standings. He pocketed $3.7 million in prize money and was informed in November that he had been chosen to become a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. All things considered not too shabby of a year.
With some of Phil’s 2011 stats it is amazing that he made any money at all last year. 177th in Driving Accuracy, 134th in strokes gained putting, and 108th in total putting usually do not lend themselves to PGA Tour wins and leader board appearances.
The biggest noticeable flaw in Phil’s game in 2011 was missed short putts and poor chipping results. Mickelson has always been a wizard and one of the best from short range around the green especially with a putter or a 64 degree wedge in his hand.
Phil’s swing coach, Butch Harmon, spent a little time with his prized student this winter and says that Phil is trying to free up his game. He does not want be as technical, enjoy the game more, and be stress free on the golf course. Isn’t that what everyone is trying to do?
Over the past several years the Mickelson family has been forced to deal with cancer issues to both his wife, Amy and his mother. Both have come through their ordeals but the stress of family members dealing with life threatening issues has affected Mickelson’s playing and practicing routines.
Prior to the 2010 U. S. Open he announced that he had experienced pain in his ankles and was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. People who suffer from this type of arthritis often have trouble even dressing themselves. It has been amazing that Phil has been able to resume playing golf and still can compete at such a high level.
Phil has three Masters Green Jackets and one PGA Championship Wanamaker Trophy. I wrote an earlier article about how Mickelson needs a U. S. Open and a British Open to complete a career grand slam
Mickelson is 41 years old and is starting his 20th year on the PGA Tour.
Whether or not he wins another major his legacy in golf history is secure.
His second shot in the final round on Sunday into the 13th hole at Augusta National during the 2010 Masters will be on highlight reels forever. A perfectly struck six iron from behind a pine tree, off a mat of pine needles, over Rae’s Creek and onto a firm undulating green is the stuff of which legends are made.
Golf fans should enjoy watching “Phil the Thrill” over the next few years and be very appreciative of the unbelievable highlights that he has provided all of us over the past 20 years.
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