Phil Mickelson was making an early run at the Open Championship on Monday — he had just narrowly missed a birdie putt on no. 16, but he was still six-under for the final round when he stepped up to the tee on the Road Hole, arguably the most difficult par-4 in the game, and he let one fly…into the balcony of the Old Course Hotel.
It wasn’t that bad of a shot, Mickelson would say after his round, but it was certainly costly and ended any hopes he would have of hoisting the Claret Jug once again. He carded a triple-bogey 7.
“The good news for me is that as I stood up there, I trusted the swing,” said Mickelson of his drive on . I hit a good, solid shot. It just over-drew a little bit. I was trying to draw it around the corner. It wasn’t like it was a horrific shot, I just overturned it. And the good thing about that is that usually when I get in that situation the miss is way left, and I like how I’m starting to hit it a little bit more solid.”
The 2013 Open champion posted a three-under 69 in the final round at St Andrews. Mickelson, however, will walk away from the week with some positives, despite feeling like he squandered several scoring opportunities.
“I felt like I played well,” he said. “I hit a lot of good shots, and it doesn’t feel far off. I’m just not quite shooting the numbers yet, but the game feels pretty good. I’m striking it better than I have in a long time, and I got rid of one of the areas of weakness, which was a big slice off the tee. I’ve been able to eliminate — significantly eliminate that shot, and I think in the long run it’s going to get better and better.
“But I just need to be a little bit patient right now as I try to get back to playing the way I know I can play.”
Mickelson hasn’t won since he captured the Open in 2013 at Muirfield, but he still insists he’s close.
“I’ve noticed in the last two or three months some significant improvement in ball-striking,” he said. “I’ve decreased the number of way-left shots. The golf swing feels much more in control and in balance, a lot more on plane, I’m hitting a lot more good shots. I’m encouraged with where my golf game is headed. I’ve just got to be patient because the scores aren’t quite coming yet, but they’re not that — it’s not too far away.”