WHITE SULPHER SPRINGS, W. VA (July 10, 2017) – Phil Mickelson this week returns to the site of his first Open Championship, Royal Birkdale. In 1991, he was 22 years old and playing by invitation after winning the 1990 U.S. Amateur. He followed an opening seven over par 77 with a 67, the second-best score of the round, before sharing 73rd place at 8-over.
Phil’s 47 now and as enthused about playing his twenty-fourth Open, and fourth at Birkdale, as he was a quarter-century ago.
“It’s nice to get a little bit of momentum and to finally shoot a number that I feel like I’ve been playing well enough to shoot,” he said after a Sunday 64 at The Greenbrier Classic, which tied him for 20th place. “I’m going to head over there and get a few extra days in at Birkdale. I have a real affinity for the golf course. I just have a special place in my heart for it.”
Phil feels the same about The Greenbrier, though until this year it hadn’t really loved him back. The Old White Course was renovated after last year’s calamitous flood washed out several holes and the event.
“It was really an impressive week from the standpoint of getting this golf course ready in less than a year, and the way the community pulled together to pull this event off,” Phil said, and it was nice for me to get a little bit of momentum here on the last day and shoot a good round.”
His first (67) and last rounds were his best on the Old White after missing the cut in his three previous visits. Sunday, he made seven birdies and one bogey, a missed-six-foot putt after being bunkered on the par-3 15th hole. Just as encouraging, it was a very positive start with Tim on the bag, and phone.
As they were touring Greenbrier, Jon Rahm was cruising to a dominating victory on the European Tour in Northern Ireland.
“I got updates on Jon Rahm’s success throughout the day and how great a win he had,” said Phil. “In addition to being my caddie, Tim’s also Jon’s manager, and so he was very keen on knowing how he was doing throughout the day. That was a nice plus. But he’s just a fun guy to be around. We had a great first week, and I’m looking forward to spending more time with him.”