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The Tour Report

December 29 2013

11:15 AM

No. 2 player to watch: Phil Mickelson

With the PGA TOUR set to resume its 2013-14 season the first week of January, PGATOUR.COM is previewing the top 30 players to watch heading into the new year. We'll count down one a day in December until we unveil our No. 1 player to watch on Dec. 30, the Monday of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Check out this preview of No. 2 Phil Mickelson and join the discussion below on how you think he'll perform in 2014. Click here for more on the top 30 players to watch in 2014.


2014 OUTLOOK: Phil Mickelson's 2014 season can be summed up in one word: Pinehurst. That's where his litany of near-misses at the U.S. Open began in 1999 and where -- if there's any poetic justice in this world -- Mickelson will complete the career Grand Slam. Since losing to Payne Stewart that day at Pinehurst No. 2, Mickelson has gone on to post five more runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open, most recently last year at Merion when he owned the third-round lead but bogeyed three of his last six holes to fall two shots shy of the long-awaited victory. A month later, though, Mickelson turned the tables and birdied three of his last six holes at Muirfield to win The Open Championship, the major most people thought he was least likely to  win, to set the stage for high drama at Pinehurst. The five-time major champion has hinted he will cut his schedule back a little in 2014 to make sure he is ready for the game's biggest events. There's the Ryder Cup -- which would be Mickelson's 20th straight international team competition as a pro -- to consider, as well. -- Helen Ross

THUS FAR THIS SEASON: Mickelson played in both the CIMB Classic and World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, tying for 19th and finishing 14th, respectively.

The instinct is to begin writing off a guy entering his age-44 season, but he's not having it. Furthermore, you won't mind if he, indeed, curtails his schedule, but leave a start for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst where he'll be chasing the career Grand Slam. -- Rob Bolton
Lefty has completely embraced his swing tendencies and habits and this, in my opinion, has been a stroke of genius. The modified 2-wood off the tee has allowed him to play with his preferred angle of attack and this has reduced the potential wide ball he tended to hit every so often. To me though, the key to his game has become his confidence in his putter. Always a dynamo around the greens, Phil is now complete where it counts as he is converting more short-range putts. Any shortcomings? Well, Phil can still be Phil when it comes to shot selection. -- Mark Immelman
You have to understand something about Phil; he is inspired by emotion and challenges.  He enjoys the chess game that is golf, the thrill of hitting the dramatic shot. Phil is a very emotional player who feeds off the gallery. TPC Scottsdale is a great fit for him with its massive galleries. I think applause actually makes a difference in the quality of his play. Any course in the New York City metropolis also suits him with The Barclays at Ridgewood in Paramus, N.J., a possible winning target in 2014. -- Fred Albers
Accuracy off the tee has never been Mickelson’s forte, so approach shots from the rough are critical. After totaling an average proximity of 44 feet, 1 inch to rank 91st on the PGA TOUR in 2012, Mickelson sliced that figure to 39-7, which ranked eighth from the rough in 2013. -- Bill Cooney