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September 8 2012

11:19 PM

Mickelson back to level he wants

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Phil Mickelson will be seeking his second win of the season on Sunday at Crooked Stick.

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

CARMEL, Ind. -- The last piece of the puzzle was the putting. And when that modified claw grip had Phil Mickelson feeling comfortable on the greens again, he knew it was only a matter of time.

As in, now.

Four rounds in the 60s last week had paved the way to a tie for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship. So Mickelson was looking for a good week at the BMW Championship -- and through three rounds he's certainly delivered.

Mickelson became the sixth player to tie the Crooked Stick course record this week, firing a 64 on Saturday that came courtesy of 10 birdies. The round was his lowest since he shot 64 on Sunday to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February -- and the way things are going at Crooked Stick this week, he just might need another.

Mickelson will start Sunday’s final round tied at 16 under with Vijay Singh, and between them, the two have seven major championships. Of course, six of the top 10 players on the leaderboard have a combined total of 25 majors – and all are within four strokes of the lead -- so that should get everyone's juices flowing.

"I'm looking forward to tomorrow's shootout," Mickelson said. "It should be fun."

Mickelson wasn't having much fun earlier in the year, though. Since that tie for third at the Masters, fueled by a triple bogey at the fourth hole on Sunday, he'd only had one top-10 finish -- until last week at TPC Boston.  

"It's taken me a little while to piece it back together, but I could tell last week that my game was back and I was ready to play at the highest level again," Mickelson said. "... I came out very anxious on Thursday and forced it a little too much the front nine and didn't play a good nine holes. But after that I've been able to settle down and play some good golf."

Mickelson says he knows exactly what happened but "I really don't want to discuss it." He's just happy things are back headed in the right direction with the FedExCup Playoffs winding down to what is shaping up to be a stellar conclusion at East Lake and the Ryder Cup on the horizon.

That said, Mickelson, who is nothing if not analytical at work and play, called the last several months a "great" experience because he's been able to dissect all the facets of his game. Once he did, the wildly popular World Golf Hall of Famer knew what to focus on, and the results are showing now.

"When was it its best? What was I doing then that made it its best? How do I practice? How do I hit the shots? What allows me to have good distance control, trajectory, all those things?" Mickelson said, ticking off the checklist.

"Although it's taken me three, four months of poor play, I feel like now it's back to a level where I'm going to start playing the way I know I'm capable of playing."

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