Mickelson to reduce playing schedule this season
October 05, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Phil Mickelson interview after Round 2 of Safeway
NAPA, Calif. – Phil Mickelson is contending again. He’s also mentally exhausted.
Mickelson had just shot a second-round 69 to reach 10 under at the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort & Spa, tied for the lead with Ryan Moore (67), when he admitted he’s playing more golf than he would like and will noticeably cut back his schedule this season.
“I love what I do,” Mickelson said. “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,” Mickelson 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.”
Broadly speaking, it was a great 2018 for Mickelson, who broke a winless drought of over five years when he captured the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in March. He made the U.S. Ryder Cup team, continuing a remarkable run of excellence that has seen him play on every U.S. Presidents and Ryder Cup team since 1993.
But it all caught up to him at the end of the season, as he finished last at the 30-man TOUR Championship at East Lake and never found any semblance of form at the Ryder Cup in France last week, going 0-2. Now making his eighth start in the last 10 weeks, he came to Silverado fully expecting to miss the cut but has been pleasantly surprised.
“My expectations are starting to come up,” he said. “I don’t want to get overly confident here because I know I don’t have my best stuff right now.”
The 43-time PGA TOUR winner admits he is surprised not to have hit any drives out of bounds at Silverado, and after making three bogeys on his first nine holes Friday morning, he roared back with a 32 on the front nine, his second of the day, for a solid, 3-under 69.
How is he doing it? He isn’t sure. Mickelson played just one practice round, the Wednesday pro-am with celebrity chef Thomas Keller, and to conserve energy he is forgoing any driving range work this week, even though his coach, Andrew Getson, is here.
Mickelson, a pro since 1992, will be even more careful not to become over-golfed going forward.
“I’ve learned from this,” he 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,” he added, “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. … As I looked at my schedule next year, and the way some of the tournaments are, yeah, there will be some that I miss that people will be upset about, but I’m not going to worry about it.”
Phil Mickelson's Round 1 highlights from Safeway