TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 11: Phil Mickelson
If he finds a few more fairways, he might very well return to the winner’s circle
December 20, 2017
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
We can’t help but be enthralled by Phil Mickelson.
Despite the fact it has now been more than four years since his win at the 2013 Open Championship, Mickelson continues to draw the crowds who still revel in the memories of his 42 PGA TOUR triumphs.
And rightfully so. Because he still brings his aggressive, swashbuckling play each week, ensuring he’s a human highlight reel.
Mickelson will hit 48 this season but he wants no part of slowing down, not with another U.S. team to make. Having made every Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup team since 1994, Mickelson intends to extend his record, one that will take something extra special to break (we’re talking to you, Jordan Spieth).
There were only five top-10s last year for Phil but he still made 20 of 22 cuts. The magic is still there; it just needs to turn up for four straight rounds.
In the season opener in Napa, Mickelson once again knocked on the door to finish third. It showed you can’t sleep on the old dog just yet.
The key will be finding just a tad more accuracy with his driver. He’s never been a dart thrower off the tee but if he could just figure out how to hit a handful more, he’d have more looks at birdie and would undoubtedly make most of those.
He’s hovered around 55 percent in driving accuracy the last few seasons and opened this fall at 42 percent. That’s got to change.
Whatever happens, we will be watching, because with Phil, it’s always a thrill.
BY THE NUMBERS
How Phil Mickelson ranked in Strokes Gained statistics during his last full season on the PGA TOUR.
Current 2017-18 position: 28th
Playoff appearances: 11
TOUR Championship appearances: 8
Best result: 2nd (2009)
INSIGHTS FROM THE INSIDERS
PGATOUR.COM’s Insiders offer their expert views on what to expect from Phil Mickelson in 2018.
TOUR INSIDER by Cameron Morfit
He hasn’t won since the Open Championship in 2013, but the long dry spell is a fluke. Whether nearly winning the Open again in 2016, contending deep into Sunday at last summer’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, or compiling a 3-0-1 record at the Presidents Cup last fall, Mickelson, 47, proves again and again that he still has the game. Motivation? He has that, too. The U.S. has not won a Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993 at The Belfry; he’s about to start his first full season with a new caddie, his little brother, Tim; and in June the U.S. Open will return to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson authored one of his record six runner-up finishes, to Retief Goosen, in ’04.
FANTASY INSIDER by Rob Bolton
A year ago in this space, the narrative was a postmortem of his first full season under the analysis of swing coach Andrew Getson. Mickelson turned in a sparkling 2015-16 even though he went winless and missed six cuts to set a 21-year high. This time around, he failed to record a top-five finish in stroke-play competition for the first time in his career. He also regressed in hitting greens in regulation but was still reliable in the absence of a victory, touching 20 cuts made for the first time since 2011. He's aging gracefully at 47 and we wouldn't want it any other way.
EQUIPMENT INSIDER by Jonathan Wall
Mickelson added Callaway's GBB Epic Sub Zero driver (9 degrees) and fairway wood (13.5 degrees) to the bag last season and began inserting Epic Pro long irons (3-5) at the Greenbrier Classic. The 4-iron is unique for Mickelson as he usually does not carry one on a regular basis. Continued iron overhaul with X Forged '18 and Apex MB during Presidents Cup. First player to convert to Odyssey's Micohinge insert technology. Mack Daddy PM Grind wedges (56, 60 and 64 degrees) were created with Mickelson's direct input.
STYLE INSIDER by Greg Monteforte
Mickelson is still one of the most sophisticated dressers on TOUR. His luxurious threads and exotic skin belts have given him an understated flashiness. In 2017, his style evolved a bit as we saw him in sporty, technical vests and a more modern take on a classic shoe silhouette. Will this evolution continue in 2018?