Mickelson confident he can advance to East Lake
September 16, 2017
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Phil Mickelson sinks long-range birdie putt at BMW
Phil Mickelson said the fog has cleared, and now he’s starting to shine at just the right time.
Mickelson’s play has quickly gone in the right direction after he recently received medical treatment that he said improved his mental clarity. His improved focus could lead to his ninth TOUR Championship appearance in the 11 seasons of the FedExCup.
Mickelson shot a 69 on Saturday at Conway Farms Golf Club and sits T15 at the BMW Championship. He’s currently projected to move up three spots in the FedExCup standings, to No. 33. ShotLink says that he sits one shot outside a TOUR Championship berth, needing a T12 or better to crack the top 30 in the FedExCup standings.
He sounded confident on Saturday about his chances.
“I know I have to probably shoot 4 or 5 under par. Like I said, I'm playing well enough to do that with ease. I let a lot of shots slide today,” Mickelson said. “I'm driving the ball well, playing well. I'm going to go out tomorrow and shoot a good number. It will be plenty.”
Mickelson sits at 9-under 204 (66-69-69), and is just two shots outside fifth place. He is fifth in greens hit (40 of 54) this week and ninth in Strokes Gained: Putting (+0.957 per round).
After receiving treatment, Mickelson finished T6 in the previous FedExCup Playoffs event, the Dell Technologies Championship. It was his first top-10 since June and his best finish in a stroke-play event since he finished runner-up to Henrik Stenson at last year’s Open Championship. He has the opportunity to post consecutive top-10s in stroke-play events for the first time since June 2013.
If he does that, he’ll be headed to East Lake, where he’ll have a chance to win his first FedExCup. He is a two-time winner at East Lake, claiming the TOUR Championship in both 2000 and 2009. Advancing to East Lake also would give him another opportunity to prepare for the Presidents Cup, which will be played Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. Mickelson was recently named one of Steve Stricker’s two Captain’s Picks, keeping alive his streak of appearances in that event. Mickelson has played in every Presidents Cup since the tournament began in 1994. He has a 23-16-2 record in his 12 appearances.
“I’d like to stay sharp heading into the Presidents Cup. I’d like to compete,” Mickelson said. “I’m also playing well enough to get in contention and win again and I want to get in that (TOUR Championship) field because I think that if I do, I think I’ll have a really good shot at it.”
MOVING IN, MOVING OUT
PROJECTED IN PROJECTED OUT Mackenzie Hughes (31 to 24) Jason Dufner (25 to 31) Patrick Cantlay (41 to 25) Louis Oosthuizen (24 to 32) Sergio Garcia (34 to 27) Bill Haas (30 to 36)
TOP 5 WATCH
The Top 5 players entering the TOUR Championship will control their own destiny at East Lake. Here’s a look at how the current Top 5 fared Friday at the BMW.
1. Jordan Spieth (71). Spieth shot a first-round 65 but was only 1 under par on the next 36 holes. He’s still projected to hold onto the top spot in the FedExCup standings.
2. Justin Thomas (71). Like Spieth, Thomas shot a solid first round (67), but could only manage to shoot 70-71 in the following two rounds. He’s still projected to maintain the No. 2 spot in the FedExCup standings.
3. Dustin Johnson (69). The BMW’s defending champion is T55 this week, but is still projected to hold on to the third spot in the FedExCup standings.
4. Hideki Matsuyama (70). His FedExCup Playoffs struggles continue. Matsuyama was No. 1 at the start of the postseason, but is now projected to drop to seventh in the standings. He is T49 this week.
5. Jon Rahm (65). Rahm’s 65 matched the low round of the day and moved him into fifth place. He’s seeking his third consecutive top-five finish in his first Playoffs, and still is projected to begin East Lake at No. 5 in the FedExCup.
Sergio Garcia’s season was highlighted by a victory at a course co-founded by famed amateur Bobby Jones. Garcia, the reigning Masters champion, is trying to earn a tee time at another course closely associated closely with Jones, East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Garcia is projected to move inside the top 30 of the FedExCup standings, but he’ll start Sunday with only a slim cushion. Garcia is T15 at the BMW Championship. He likely needs to finish T19 at Conway Farms Golf Club to qualify for his first TOUR Championship since 2014.
Last season marked the first time that two rookies qualified for the TOUR Championship. We could see a repeat of that feat this year. Both Patrick Cantlay and Mackenzie Hughes are projected to qualify for East Lake after Saturday’s play. Hughes, winner of The RSM Classic, is T15 at the BMW Championship and projected to jump from 31st to 24th in the FedExCup standings. Cantlay, who’s finished in the top 15 in the first two events of this year’s FedExCup Playoffs, is in fifth place at the BMW Championship. Cantlay, who’s making just his 12th start of the season, started the season on a medical extension from his rookie season of 2013-14.
Stewart Cink is scheduled to receive the Payne Stewart Award next week at East Lake Golf Club. Cink, who lives in the Atlanta area, may be at East Lake as a competitor, too. He’ll need a low round to do it, though. Cink was inside the top 30 of the projected FedExCup standings for much of Saturday, but bogeys on the final two holes dropped him to No. 46. He’s T12 at the BMW Championship and three shots outside the top 30. ShotLink projects that he will need a fourth-place finish to qualify for his first TOUR Championship since 2009, the year he won The Open Championship.