Mickelson is encouraged by Sunday finish at Firestone
By Bernie D'Amato under PGA Championship


Phil Mickelson shot a 62 this past Sunday at the WGC-Bridgestone to salvage a T15 finish after a poor start. At the pre-tournament press conference, Phil said that his eight-under par round gives him momentum heading into the PGA Championship.

Mickelson is the type of player who feeds off positive energy, and the spectacular round on Sunday as well as the support from the crowd could help propel him into contention at Valhalla.

“It really is a fun place for us to play because of the memories that we have in 2008. Winning The Ryder Cup here, it’s a very emotional experience. And the people here in Louisville, we kept calling them our 13th man because they were such an asset to us in keeping us motivated.”

If Mickelson wishes to automatically qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, he needs to play well at the PGA. “I’m also on the outside looking in right now, too, so we have some work to do this week.” Phil is currently 10th in the standings, and the top-9 are automatic qualifiers.

If he doesn’t make the top-9, Mickelson will likely be one of Captain Watson’s three picks because of his immense talent, and his ability to connect with his younger teammates.

Phil is known as a mentor on Tour, and is frequently seen playing practice rounds with Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley.

“It is fun to play with some of these guys, and it is fun to see their energy and their excitement and how much they appreciate being out on TOUR, and all the great things that come along ‑‑ all the perks that come along with playing on the TOUR. When you’re out here for 22 years, you sometimes take it for granted, and when you see the excitement and appreciation from these younger guys, it gets me excited again, too. So I enjoy playing with them.”

Another benefit of playing with the young guys is being able to win a team long drive competition. During Tuesday’s practice round, the PGA of America put together a long drive competition on the 10th hole. In addition to going against the entire field, Mickelson and Fowler teamed up against Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele.

Phil said, “So after Keegan hit it 326, it wasn’t looking good for our team. I’m not going to be able to keep up with Keegan, so Rickie hit a solid, solid drive, and got him by two yards, so we were able to win that. That was nice.”

Fowler held the overall long drive until Gary Woodland beat him by a couple yards.

Mickelson went on to say he enjoyed the long drive competition. “We all loved it. We all had fun with it. We thought it was great, and we had the feedback right there to let you know how far the drive was. I thought it was terrific. I hope they keep doing it.”

–Bernie D’Amato (@bdamato711)