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Shane Bacon

Lefty's purpose; a big moment for Mickelson

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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I'll be honest; I was skeptical about Phil Mickelson this season. I thought he'd struggle for the first time in his career. I thought it was going to be tough on him with his health issues. I thought the game might have actually moved past the 40-year-old Mickelson.

After Saturday at Torrey Pines, it seems I was dead wrong. Mickelson is playing as well in his first PGA Tour start of 2011 as anyone, and he has put himself in a familiar position at the Farmers Insurance Open.

He shot a four-under 68, and is tied with Bill Haas for the lead at 12-under, looking to win at this event for the fourth time in his career.

The thing is, if he doesn't win, it could dash all of that. He's hitting his irons beautifully, and seems to be in control around the greens, but if Phil doesn't win, if he can't close on Sunday at this marquee event, it could be one of those moments that we might look back over the next two years as the tournament that finally sidelined Lefty.

But he will probably win. He always seems to win when people don't think he can. Nobody thought he'd ever claim a major, and he did. He got up and down to win his only PGA Championship from a nasty lie that seemed to be a moment Phil couldn't handle. He took down Augusta National a year ago when he hadn't had his best stuff all season.

If he does win, it could be the year we've been waiting for. A resurgent Phil contending against Tiger Woods, among others, who has struggled all week with his swing.

Sunday will tell us a lot about how 2011 is going to go. A Haas win would be great. A Mickelson win could be career-altering.

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