OK, Davis Love, you can exhale now. After wondering for the last few months if Phil Mickelson would rediscover his swing in time for the Ryder Cup, the swashbuckling lefty put on a clinic at the BMW Championship with a near-flawless 8-under 64 on Saturday that has him tied for the lead with Vijay Singh, at 16-under, heading into the final round.
This year has been a long, strange trip for Mickelson, who opened 2012 with a brilliant final-round performance to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and followed it up with runner-up finish at the Northern Trust Open and T-3 at the Masters that led you to believe he was going to be a major factor this season.
However, following a T-7 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Mickelson's game vanished. For the next three-plus months he looked nothing like the four-time major winner who, for years, was the closet thing Tiger Woods had to a rival.
Suddenly, Mickelson went from hitting laser irons and jaw-dropping flop shots to complaining about his mental game and fatigue. For a split second, it felt like Mickelson had hit the plateau in his career -- the point where he went from usual contender to, well, not.
But if there's one thing we've learned from watching Mickelson over the years, it's that you should never doubt him, especially when his back is against the wall. Despite hitting the worst stretch of his career over the summer, he kept plugging away, saying after each passing round that he was getting closer.
Then came the T-4 at the Deutsche Bank and Mickelson's comments on a radio show, where he mentioned his game was on. Not only that, he predicted his game was good enough to win.
He was right. Mickelson's 64 on Saturday was his seventh straight round in the 60s. While he still has some heady competition in his rearview, he has more momentum than any other player in the field -- outside of Rory McIlroy, of course -- at the moment.
Davis Love III is hoping that momentum carries over to Medinah for the Ryder Cup. Mickelson was playing so poorly before the Deutsche Bank that sitting the left-hander until Sunday singles didn't sound all that crazy. Mickelson was a liability at the time, or so we all thought.
Following another superlative-filled round of golf, he could be one of the anchors on the U.S. squad. Needless to say, Mickelson's outlook has certainly changed over the last few weeks. If he wins on Sunday at Crooked Stick his season could take another crazy turn -- this time for the better.
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