With the exception of a few hiccups, including a double bogey to close out his second round, Phil Mickelson has been at the top of his golf game for the entirety of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. “Lefty” has a history of struggling coming into this tournament and then simply exploding. He went through a last minute session with Butch Harmon before the tournament started, and whatever they went over seems to be working.
Mickelson switched to a driver that provides slightly more loft, which has allowed him to control the ball off the tee with greater consistency. His irons have been on point all week. If you need proof of that, you need to look no further than the fact that he is No. 1 in greens in regulation on the week at 88.89 percent. He is also leading the field in putting average, at 1.521. Accurate tee shots, solid iron play and a red hot putter are most definitely a recipe for success.
To say that he has had an adventurous end to each of his first three rounds would be an understatement. On Thursday, he had a birdie putt lip out that would have given him a 59 on the day. I’m still trying to figure out how that one didn’t fall. On Friday, he hit a 3-wood into the water on 18 and ended up carding a double bogey. Saturday saw Mickelson’s final tee shot fly left into the gallery, but a good lie allowed him to convert a birdie attempt. He closed the third round with birdies on five of the final six holes, by the way.
Heading into the final stretch, Mickelson was only three under par on the day while the majority of the rest of the field was carding scores of five, six and seven under par. They were hoping they could make up a little ground on “Lefty”, but alas, that was not to be. Mickelson finished his third round one stroke shy of the all-time 54-hole scoring record.
Mickelson heads into the final round six shots ahead of Brandt Snedeker and eight shots clear of Padraig Harrington and Ryan Moore. All signs are pointing to a wire-to-wire victory for Mickelson. The only question that remains is the margin of that victory.