Phil uses humour to soothe pain

2006-08-16 11:47

Medinah - Phil Mickelson, aiming for his second major of the year at this week's PGA Championship, tried using humour to soothe the pain of a string of sub-par performances since his final-hole stumble at the US Open in June.

Since squandering a one-shot lead at the 72nd hole at Winged Foot with a double bogey, Mickelson barely made the cut at the Western Open, finished tied for 22nd at the British Open and missed the cut at The International.

Chief rival Tiger Woods, meanwhile, surged into contention at the Western, and won the British Open and Buick Open after failing to make the cut at Winged Foot.

"I guess here's a great example of how Tiger and I prepare differently," defending PGA champion Mickelson told a news conference on Tuesday.

"He goes into the PGA Championship thinking that winning the British and winning the Buick Open is the best way, and I go in thinking that missing the cut is the best."

Mickelson is known for meticulous preparation for golf's four majors and has admitted to letting his mind wander ahead when playing in a run-up tournament.

Mickelson, sometimes criticised for being overly bold on the golf course, said he preferred having his game a bit out of whack heading into a major.

"I never want to be firing on all cylinders because then I play overly aggressive," said Mickelson, who won the Masters in April after destroying the field by 13 shots at the BellSouth Classic the week before Augusta.

Better scoring

"When I'm a little bit uncertain of where exactly it's going to go, I play more conservative in my shot-making and decision-making, and I end up usually scoring a little bit better.

"You never really want to enter a major when you're feeling like you're just hitting it great. You always want to have a little uncertainty there."

Mickelson will get to test his theory under the heat of severe competition grouped with Woods and US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy of Australia for the first two rounds.

Mickelson joked about interest in the dream grouping.

"I would think that 8:30 in the morning is pretty early on a Thursday, and to be on the 10th tee way out in the middle of nowhere, I don't think there's going to be many people out there," he said.

The 1999 PGA at Medinah is remembered for a gambling approach shot off tree roots at the 16th hole that nearly catapulted Spain's Sergio Garcia past winner Woods.

"The shot he hit on 16 was just crazy. I would never try that," said Mickelson, joking about criticism he heard for his final-hole attempt to rescue par at Winged Foot by bending a shot around some trees after a wild drive.

"I think you should always, always pitch to the middle of the fairway and hit an eight-iron on," he said, tongue in cheek.

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