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PONTE VEDRA, FL (MAY 14, 2017) – On the seventh anniversary of Phil Mickelson’s Players Championship victory Phil shared 41st place at three over par. Inflation happens. His $1,620,000 first-place check in 2010 would be worth $1,910,509 today’s dollars. Si Woo Kim, whom Phil defeated 5&4 in the Dell Match Play Championship in March, won the trophy and a check for $1,890,000.

Phil’s finish was disappointing, sure, but Phil being Phil he said, “I always try to find positives in the week and the positive for me was that I had a few little mini breakthroughs in some of the ball striking things I’ve been looking for and I hit a lot of good long shots.”

In an unusual move, Phil skipped a pre-tournament practice round on the course.

“I felt the first two days it paid off pretty well,” he said Friday after two rounds of 70-72 left him just five strokes off the lead.

“I was sharp, I was fresh, I hit a lot of good shots, I gave myself a couple of opportunities and really should have been in better shape had it not been for a shot here or there. You could easily say I missed the cut here the last four years, so to make the cut and be here on Sunday, that’s something new.”

The blustery weekend did not go as well. There were six scores in the 60s on Saturday, and 29 at 77 or more. Phil’s 78 left him in 67th place.

He made the turn at even par for the final round and counted four birdies on the inward nine but with a double bogey on 10 and bogey on 14 his net was 71. Still, that still moved him up fifteen places.

“I’ll go home this week and work on some areas of weakness,” he said, “the simple things, the chips, the lag putting, the things that I normally do well I take for granted and I’ve not been sharp on. I’ll put a little bit more attention to detail in that and see if I can take these average performances and turn them into contention.”

WILMINGTON, NC (MAY 7, 2017) – While a course renovation takes root at Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte in preparation for hosting the PGA Championship in August, the Wells Fargo Championship moved this year to Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington. Phil Mickelson, birdied four of the last six holes Sunday to gain a share of 18th place.

“I really enjoyed the course,” he said. “A lot of movement in, fabulous conditioning and we had great crowds showing support for the event .”

He also enjoyed the start of the week. That began Monday with a practice round of Quail Hollow where since 2007 he was among the top 10 after 24 of 45 rounds and finished among the top five seven times.

“I like it, they’ve done a great job,” he said, “but it’s a hard golf course.”

The next morning he and Bones Mackay moved across town to Charlotte Country Club.

KPMG outings long have been a favorite of Phil’s and Tuesday’s was one of the best in his long association with the firm. Play was abbreviated due to a dreadful forecast and Phil played only one hole with each group. But that left extra time in the clubhouse.

Rather than the always entertaining Q&A session with the moderator and Phil, this time the moderator invited Bones onstage to join Phil in a version of the Newlywed Game. One question, two answers.

“Bones is entitled to one veto vote on a shot each year. Have you ever used it?”

Phil: “Once in awhile.”

Bones: “But there was one time when the veto was vetoed.”

In the final round in the 2015 Open Championship at Muirfield, Bones recalled, Phil was a fairway pot bunker on the final nine. Bones had his hand on a wedge but Phil insisted that if he got on his knees and opened the face of a 6-iron he could get it close to 20 feet for an eagle putt.  Bones was thinking if the shot didn’t come off he’d have 20 feet for a double bogey.

Bones said he was using his veto vote. Phil said, “That’s only good for domestic use.”

Sure enough that shot was wide right, but Phil made a terrific recovery shot, birdied the hole and went on to win the Claret Jug.

This week he’s seeking his second Players Championship title at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, FL.

AUGUSTA, GA. (APR. 9, 2017) – Phil Mickelson hit more fairways at The Masters than he averages per week this year on the PGA Tour, but hit fewer greens in regulation, made fewer sand saves and needed more putts. At two over par, he shared 22nd place, seven strokes behind Sergio Garcia, who tipped Justin Rose in a one-hole playoff for his first major championship victory.

The first two days were tough tests in high winds but Phil got through them in good shape, four strokes off the lead after shooting 71-73.

After the second round he said, “I’m really tired. It was obvious there in the end  when I played the last five holes very poorly” – dropping three shots in that span after being two under par through 13.

Still, he felt he was in good position for the weekend, though he did say, “I’ve got to sharpen up my short game.”

Then it got weird.

Saturday he birdied the first two holes and doubled the third. Sunday he eagled the second and again doubled the third, where for the second day he made a surprising short-game gaffe. At the par-3 fourth, he drove well right and over the green into a wall of bushes and played a provisional that was at best visible. He somehow found the first ball and made miraculous bogey. But after a bogey at the seventh he made turn two over par for the day with too big a hill to climb on the inward nine.

Phil was 10 under par on the par-fives for the week but five-over on the front nine and just one-under on the back despite playing the four long holes five-under. Only in the first two rounds did he make the turn under par, both times just one under.

“It’s the greatest week of the year, it’s the greatest day of the year,” Phil said after he finished. “I made a lot of mistakes this week, I didn’t play the way I wanted to, but this weekend the course was just perfect in that the pins were gettable, you could make some birdies, the weather was nice. The greens were a little bit quicker, a little bit firmer than they had been, and I just thought it set itself up for a terrific weekend.

“I didn’t play the way I wanted to, but I got off to a great start yesterday and today, two under through 2 and then that third hole had my lunch.”

Humble, TX (April 2, 2017) – Twelve years ago the Tournament Course at the Golf Club of Houston, home to the Shell Houston Open, was designed by Rees Jones with help from David Toms. Soon after that, the course greenskeepers were dispatched to Augusta National and returned with identical grass types, growing and mowing patterns. It was love at first sight for Phil Mickelson.

“I think playing here really helps me,” Phil said after his three-birdie, three-bogey opening round. “Helps me to get sharp so that I don’t have a day like this next Thursday, that I get focused and dialed in a lot easier when I only have three days in between tournament rounds rather than ten days or more. I like the fact the course is set up similarly. Certainly the fairways and the first cut are much like Augusta.”

Except that many of the narrower fairways in Houston are dotted or lined with water hazards on one or both sides. Phil hit a few foul balls through the week, but his iron play, usually a strength, was the surprising disappointment. He had played at Augusta the Monday and Tuesday of Shell week and did some good work there.

But after Friday’s round his second 72 he said, “I haven’t been quite that sharp where I’m hitting it, 20 feet instead of 6 feet.”

Phil ended the tournament, Shell’s last as sponsor and possibly the last stop for the Tour at Champions, in a tie for 55th place. Still, in the 11 years since it modeled Augusta National’s signature features, Phil leads all contestants in most rounds under par (27), is second overall in birdies and is 65 under par for the event.

Now it’s on to Augusta this week for Phil’s most cherished event on one of his favorite courses, one he knows as well as anybody and better than most, where he’s won three times, where his focus is sharpest.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ll get some rest, go through my routine, and be ready on Thursday.”

(March 26, 2016) — Phil Mickelson loves match play and he’s a fan of the host course, Austin (TX) Country Club, but the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play hasn’t loved him back. He didn’t make it out of pool play in the debut event last year. This time around things looked much more promising.

Seeded 14th, Phil was paired with No. 63 Si Woo Kim in the first of three matches in the opening round of pool play. He took the lead with a birdie on the second hole and was 4-up through No. 7 with his fourth birdie before winning 5-up with his sixth birdie in 15 holes.

It was more of the same in the second round against Daniel Berger, when Phil birdied the first two holes, was 4-up after nine and went on to win 5-up on a concession at the 14th. Ditto the third match with J.B. Holmes: 2-up after two holes, 4-up through 9 and a 6&5 win after 13 on a windy day.

“I think it’s a fun challenge,” said Phil. “If you hit some good shots, you can be rewarded. There are some birdie holes out here, but there are also some difficult holes.”

Phil had played 42 holes in three days, had won 18 of them, nine with birdies, and never trailed after a first-hole halve in the first match.

The tables turned in his quarterfinal match when Bill Hass birdied the first, was 3-up through nine and won 2-up after Phil made no bogeys but won only two holes with birdies.

“Bill played some great golf,” said Phil. “I had some opportunities to match him on a number of holes and didn’t do it, couldn’t get the putts to fall as they had been earlier.

“But I’m playing well and I’m looking forward to Houston and the Masters, playing my best and getting sharp. If I can do that it’ll give me an opportunity to win the Masters.”