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September 9 2012

11:20 PM

Phil says his game’s trending up

Watch: Phil birdies ninth hole

In the final round of the BMW Championship, Phil Mickelson sinks a 13-foot birdie putt on the par-5 9th hole.


By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

CARMEL, Ind. -- Phil Mickelson said he was a "little bit off" during Sunday's final round of the BMW Championship. Consequently, he failed to maintain the lead he shared with Vijay Singh after 54 holes and came up two strokes short of eventual winner Rory McIlroy.

But Mickelson did accomplish a major objective -- getting into the top five in FedExCup points. Thanks to his tie for second at Crooked Stick, he moved from ninth to fourth in points.

That gives Mickelson control of his own destiny at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. If he wins at East Lake, he will win the FedExCup title.

And he likes his chances.

"I'm really pleased with the way my game has come around the last two weeks," Mickelson said after shooting a 2-under 70 to finish at 18 under. "... I really know where I'm headed with my swing, with my ball-striking off the tee, iron play, distance control, wedge, putting -- all that stuff feels really good.

"I look at a day like this as just a blip as opposed to a trend. The trend is going up."

Mickelson had the lead to himself early in his round after birdies at the second and fifth holes. But he bogeyed the par-4 seventh despite being in the fairway just 145 yards from the pin after a perfect drive. His approach ended up in the rough between the bunker and the green, and he couldn't get up and down to save par.

"The shot on 7 was just horrific," Mickelson said. "It was an easy pitching wedge back there and it was -- I was just a little bit off. I was kind of holding onto some shots rather than releasing it, and consequently I blocked a number of iron shots."

Mickelson had a birdie at the par-5 ninth, but then he failed to birdie the par- 11th and bogeyed the par-4 12th after another short approach shot sailed over the green.

Two late birdies gave him an outside shot at catching McIlroy, but he bogeyed the par-3 17th when he missed the green with his tee shot, then missed his par putt from 3 feet.

"Everything was just a fraction off," Mickelson said. "My irons weren't quite at the pin. They were off a little bit. My putter was 2, 3 inches off my line, just a fraction, just enough to miss.

"I just wasn't getting in the hole like it was yesterday, so I was fighting it a little bit."

Still, a tie for second after last week's fourth-place finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship has Mickelson excited for East Lake, a course he's won on twice before.

"The parts of my game are getting better, each one," Mickelson said, "so hopefully at East Lake I'll improve the last spot or two and see if I can get the win."

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