Phil Mickelson — Getty Images
The four-time major winner has just two top-10s ever at the Open, even mentioning on Tuesday that his relationship with links golf has been a "hate-love" one, meaning he used to hate it and now loves it.
His win at the Scottish Open was his first win on European soil since 1993, and gave fans hope that he might just compete for a Claret Jug. What are the keys to his success last week and his hopeful approach to the major championship that has never seemed suited for his game? It might just be "the secret" everyone has been searching for.
"I am really optimistic about this week and going forward because I'm starting to putt as well as I ever have. I putted great last week, and more than that I've been putting well now for months, and feel like I've really keyed in on something over the last three or four years, where I've added some poor stretches. You've seen me try the belly putter, you've seen me try different grips, and finally I believe I have kind of found the secret to my own putting, and what I need to do to putt well."
What is this secret Mickelson has found? That one is between him and the course.
"I'm not going to discuss it. I feel that I've kind of keyed in on something, and I don't really want to share," Mickelson said when pushed on those earlier comments.
It is true that Phil has rolled the rock very well this season, despite trying a few different methods as he mentioned in the above quote. Mickelson is currently 11th on tour in strokes gained from putting, and is 19th in total putting, not to mention first on tour in birdies, which means the ball is going in a lot of the time, but one has to wonder if there really was something that clicked or if this is just another episode of Phil having one good week and thinking he reinvented the wheel.
And that short memory that a lot of great golfers have that allows them to forget the bad stuff was on display as Mickelson obviously didn't mention the three-putt he had on the 72nd hole that put him in a playoff when he was talking about the secret, but it isn't the first time he's been overly excited about a change in his game.
At the Waste Management earlier this season, when Mickelson shot an opening 60 that was a lip-out away from a membership in the 59 club, it was his driving that had totally changed.
"If I drive it like this and feel as easy as I do over the driver, my iron‑‑ the strength of my game is my iron play, so if I can drive it like I did and with the ease with which I did and the misses be where they were, then this could be a really big deal for me," Mickelson said in Phoenix.
This week? Phil doesn't even have a driver in the bag, and won't carry one during tournament play.
The secret in golf is definitely a week-to-week endeavor.
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