Sunday, July 21, 2013

Through the good and bad, Phil stays mentally steady

 To go along with his claret jug, Phil Mickelson took one more monkey off of his back and added a fifth major to his already legendary career. He has now won three out of the four major championships, making him only one of twelve men to ever do so. Still, there is one glaring hole. Do I even need to mention it, the U.S. Open. As everyone recalls, Mickelson finished in second place at the U.S. Open for the sixth time last month at Merion; a result that could crush a man with lesser fortitude. Not Phil. Going to bed with the 54 hole lead, it felt like Mickelson's week. It had to be, he was long overdue. But a consistent final round by Justin Rose on the grueling Merion resulted in the Englishmen being crowned U.S. Open champion, a devastating finish for Mickelson. As disappointing as yet another second place was, Phil Mickelson did not quit on the year as he knew there was a lot of golf still to be played, this disappointment only provided motivation.
  Two weeks ago Phil Mickelson flew to Europe knowing that he had not won there in twenty years, he leaves after winning twice in two weeks. To tune up for the Open Championship, Mickelson played the Scottish Open, an event he had lost in a playoff in 2007. This time, he defeated Brandon Grace in a playoff. Though this event does not carry the same pressure or magnitude of a major championship, it taught Mickelson an important lesson, he can win in Europe. This provided confidence (something Mickelson never seems to lack anyway), as well as momentum heading into the first major championship since the devastation at Merion. Heading into the tournament's final day Mickelson was lurking five shots back but was considered out of contention by many. Mickelson himself however, was playing for know less than first place. This morning Lee Westwood was sitting in a similar position to Mickelson at the U.S. Open. Westwood, who hails from Britain, had a 54 hole lead and believed it was time to capture his first major. The major that takes place in his homeland. Mickelson had different plans, coming out and firing a final round 66, tying the round of the week. His failures a month prior did not haunt him at Muirfield, it was a new month, a new day, a new event.
  There are not many players on tour who could have done what Mickelson did today, mentally or physically. Shooting a final round 66 was incredible, but so was the ability to move on from his sixth second place season and focus specifically on the tast at hand. Now, at 43, Phil Mickelson is playing the best golf of his career and has the most confidence he has ever had. This ability and confidence could lead to more tournament wins, and major championships in the near and distant future. And for Phil, hopefully a U.S. Open. - Connor Jones

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