TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 30: Phil Mickelson
December 01, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- December 01, 2018
Phil Mickelson defeats Tiger Woods at Shadow Creek
The plan for 2019: Play less, make each start count.
“I love what I do,” Phil Mickelson, 48, said at the Safeway Open last fall, when he opened with a 65 only to fade to a T-17 finish. “But now, as opposed to playing the tournaments you’re expected to play in or whatever, now I’m going to play in the tournaments that I like, that are best for me, even if it doesn’t make sense or people have a problem with it.
“I’m going to have to start limiting the number of tournaments that I play,” he added, “so that I can play those at a higher level, because I’m getting a little bit more mental fatigue and not able to focus and see the shot as clearly as I’d like for so many weeks in a row.”
Mickelson broke a five-plus-years win drought at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship last March, and made the U.S. Ryder Cup team. (He’s made every U.S. Presidents and Ryder Cup team since 1993.) But it all caught up to him as he finished last at the TOUR Championship at East Lake and went 0-2 at the Ryder Cup in France.
He had nothing left.
Thus, the 43-time PGA TOUR winner will make the necessary adjustments.
“I’ve learned from this (over-scheduling),” Mickelson said. “At 48, it’s not a smart thing to do. I won’t do it anymore. I won’t do it again, playing this much golf. I’ll pace myself much more. I’m able to play at a high level, but it’s so difficult without physical and mental sharpness, to play at a high level. It doesn’t come easy anymore. I need to recover.” -- By Cameron Morfit
BY THE NUMBERS
How Mickelson ranked in Strokes Gained statistics during his last full season on the PGA TOUR:
Current 2018-19 position: 123rd
Playoff appearances: 12 (every year)
TOUR Championship appearances: 9
Best FedExCup result: 2nd (in 2009; won TOUR Championship that year).
SHOTLINK FUN FACT
Mickelson had his career-best season in Strokes Gained: Putting in the ShotLink Era, gaining 38.257 strokes on the green in 2017-18.
PGATOUR.COM’s Insiders offer their expert views on what to expect from Phil Mickelson in 2019.
TOUR INSIDER: When rested, Mickelson still has enough game to win. He’ll have to limit the damage with his erratic driving, which means avoiding tired legs while also making hay on relatively wide-open courses like TPC Scottsdale. And he must continue to make putts like last season, when he finished in the top 10 in Strokes Gained: Putting after occupying the No. 2 spot, just behind Jason Day, for much of it. Anything in the top 10 again in 2019 and Mickelson should find himself in contention at least once. -- By Cameron Morfit
FANTASY INSIDER: With his 49th birthday occurring this season – it aligns with the final round of the U.S. Open, so cue the clever headlines if he achieves the career grand slam – he's in his own lane purely in the context of age. His comps are 2012 Vijay Singh (23-for-27, five top 10s, 33rd in the FedExCup) and 2016 Steve Stricker (11-for-15, three top 10s, 76th in the FedExCup). Since Mickelson has said that he's going to curtail his schedule, somewhere in between is a reasonable expectation. -- By Rob Bolton
EQUIPMENT INSIDER: Always the tinkerer, Mickelson most recently put a new Odyssey Prototype putter in play at the 2018 Safeway Open in October. His new 34-inch putter is a #9 head model, which he’s popularized throughout his career, and it has a new multi-material shaft (rather than standard steel). He finished 15th in Strokes Gained: Putting on the week using the new flatstick. The biggest concern in Mickelson’s game, however, is whether he can get the ball in the fairway off the tee; currently, he’s using a Callaway Rogue Sub Zero driver (9 degrees) with a Project X HZRDUS T1100 shaft. Expect his driver setup to change before 2019 hits, though.-- By Andrew Tursky
STYLE INSIDER: Mickelson made the long sleeve button-down a thing in 2018. Given that he reportedly received a stake in Mizzen+Main in exchange for wearing the brand’s shirts, expect the button-downs to be a focal point of his wardrobe again in 2019, especially in the cooler conditions of the West Coast swing. -- By Greg Monteforte