A week ago, Phil Mickelson couldn’t have sounded more like a man who forgot how to play golf. “The path of the club is too inside, then it’s vertical, the head’s moving, my legs are loose,” he said after Thursday’s opening round at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. In summary? According to Mickelson, “it’s terrible”.
Of course, as badly as he thought he played, he still ended up tied for 19th place, posting a final score of -5. If only we could all have such bad weeks on the golf course.
If the finish was a bit inauspicious, what worked remarkably well for Lefty was his ability to score despite having next to no idea where his ball might go when he teed off. The two-way miss – fighting both a hook and slice at the same time – is the hardest thing for any player to deal with, but he had his wedges and putter working as well as he ever has, and it saved him several precious strokes.
That’s not to say that he doesn’t have his own swing thoughts to worry about, but if he’s really been struggling since his win at the Open Championship as he says, then he might be in for a record year when he gets it all worked out.
This week, Mickelson will be in action at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, and Sheshan International might just be his “happy place” to get things dialed in. He’s won here before, and the 2014 major championship schedule is littered with courses he likes, notably the U.S. Open‘s return to Pinehurst, one of his favorite courses. With a long layoff looming, Mickelson would certainly like to start the year strong.
With 78 of the best players in the world in the field this week, it’s sure to be a tough task ahead, but Mickelson’s never been one to back down when the pressure’s on.