With regional qualifiers completed and just one more week to go until the entire golf world converges on south central North Carolina, the pressure is on every entrant to make sure their game is in top form for the year’s second major.
If you haven’t heard by now, perhaps nobody is feeling that more than Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson gets his final tune-up before Pinehurst this week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, and he must be hoping to channel some of last year’s positive Memphis vibes into another chance at his first US Open victory. Of course, all the positive energy in the world won’t do Lefty a bit of good if he can’t translate that into on-course performance, something that’s been severely lacking this year.
Mickelson did finish in a tie for second in Memphis in 2013 before heading to Merion, but quite honestly, he looked like a completely different player. Most importantly, he’s missing a lot of the putts that seemed so automatic for him just 12 months ago.
He’s actually hitting greens at a slightly better clip in 2014 (67.59%) than last season’s 66.67% rate. However, he’s dropped his birdie or better conversion from 34.97% down to 30.92%, and is carrying a negative rating in strokes gained putting for the first time since 2011. These are the types of things that will only get magnified when it comes to the toughest test in golf.
I don’t for a minute believe that Mickelson can’t overcome these challenges, but if he doesn’t get some kind of positive momentum going quickly, it might just prove to be too much. Lefty doesn’t need to win this week to be ready for Pinehurst, but the time is now for him to make a change in the right direction.