I’m thanking Phil Mickelson for showing us all the change in his approach to high level championship golf. Who would ever thought a player going off at 200-1 could possibly win the PGA Championship. Yes Brooks could have applied more pressure if he didn’t throw up all over himself on the par 5 holes. But that’s golf under pressure, it will expose all of your weaknesses.
Phil’s new found intense focus hopefully will not result in further lengthening the time it takes to play 18 holes in competition. It’s already a joke when tournament rounds take over 5 hours, sometimes even close to 6 hours. It is not possible to keep a flow of your game when you wait for long periods of time on every shot. Just having played in the SCGA Senior Amateur in groups of 3 with ten minute tee times, it was a very slow 4 hours, we still waited on every shot.
My take away from Phil’s great win is that he was lacking the proper focus to make the right decisions on his shot shape and creation of the picture in his mind of what that looks like. You could see his intense concentration and focus on every single shot. This eliminated the big misses that he is prone to have in critical moments (most notably the tee shot in the US Open at Winged Foot, that he will probably never forget).
I believe Phil would not hit that shot now that far left of a miss. He has taken his miss pattern and significantly tightened it up, and then let his short game work its magic. When you are hitting big foul balls, the short game doesn’t really matter, you’ve lost it off the tee, and have no way of overcoming those mistakes around and on the greens.
I too play very fast and make quick decisions, especially when I want to catch the wind conditions as they are at the moment I will rush up and try to quick hit a shot. The past three days I did NOT do that, I forced myself to visualize each shot, pick a target and see in my mind the proper shape of my shots.
OMG did it work, I hit 50 out of 54 greens, I hit 4 par 5 holes in two shots and at one time I was -12 for the tournament with a 9 shot lead, and finished ten under par and had the low round everyday (68-67-68). Yes I have been playing well of late and have not been blogging out of frustration of not being able to close out any tournaments. I finished 2nd in the SOS Masters, I finished 3rd in the Alameda Commuters after a 68 opening round, a 4th in Houston after leading with a 69 first round, and a 2nd at the Trans Miss after leading with a 68 first round.
I have been frustrated as hell, golf has NOT BEEN FUN , mainly work and disappointment until I saw what Phil did on SUNDAY in the final round of the PGA Championship. It starts with belief, if you don’t truly believe you are capable of winning, forget about it, it’s not going to magically happen. You need to go out and TAKE IT, but with a strategy that keeps you calm, focused and balanced.
I care about my world ranking as its used to Exempt the top 25 ranked seniors in the world into the USGA Senior Amateur. I started this run at 32nd, and now sit at 15th and with this win yesterday will probably drop to 11-12th. I care because the USGA Senior Amateur is a major that you don’t want to miss, and the qualifier usually has about 90 players for 4 spots.
I have punched my ticket into this years event, and Phil has punched his ticket into the next 5 US Opens. Phil decided at 50 he was not done, and that perhaps his best golf was still in front of him. And look what he did, almost the impossible, as the oldest major winner ever.
At age 50, 51 and 52 I actually played my best golf of my life, and achieved a record three consecutive Northern California Player of the Year awards during that stretch. I also won about 15 tournaments during those three years, including the prestigious Stocker Cup and was low amateur in the Senior Open twice. Age is not what determines the quality of our golf, but our mind does. Yes, like Phil said in his interview, you need to work harder when you are older. You lack the flexibility you may once had and strength, but all can be improved through hard work. But with a more mature mind and experience will always pay the biggest dividends.
Congratulations to Phil and his whole team that supports his effort to be the best player he can possibly be. But can he win again out there? Who knows, but I wouldn’t bet against him.
I have not shot three consecutive rounds in the 60’s in a long time, and until the past 4 days I would not believed it to be possible with the inconsistency in my putting. This all changed after watching Phil pull off his historic win on Sunday.
I’m not going to bore you with all the stats of my victory in the Southern California Senior Amateur, as I cover most of it in my post round interview, check it out.
Stay tuned for more on Side Saddle putting