European Tour

Mickelson seeks British Open form

Phil Mickelson (AFP)
Phil Mickelson (AFP)

Springfield - Phil Mickelson, still smarting from a loss to Henrik Stenson at the British Open two weeks ago, hopes duplicating his final-round performance will let him bounce back with a PGA Championship win.

The 46-year-old US left-hander returns to Baltusrol, where he won the 2005 PGA title, intent upon not letting a chance to win a major title pass due to disappointment.

"What I want to do is just play to that level that I played at the British Open. I have to try to believe that it will be enough this time, if I'm able to duplicate that performance," Mickelson said.

"So that's kind of the goal and the game plan, to not force the issue, but to just go play and trust that I'm hitting a lot of good shots and trust that I'll make some putts and just try to go shoot a number and not try to worry about it.

"But that's easier said than done."

Mickelson fired a final-round 65 at Royal Troon and finished at 17-under par 267, good enough to win 141 prior British Opens but not that one as Sweden's Stenson fired a 63, matching the low round in major history, to finish on 20-under 264, setting a low-aggregate major and matching the all-time major sub-par mark.

"We pushed each other to the limit, trading punches and blows all the way," Stenson said. "We both wanted it badly and we performed so well because of each other. I'm just delighted I managed to win it.

"A lot of the best players that have ever played the game are giving us credit for how we played. That's obviously very pleasing and very humbling."

Mickelson will wait to put it into perspective.

"I'll look back over time and my disappointment will probably increase because I think it's the first time in my career that I have played to that level of golf and not had it be enough to win," Mickelson said. "That's a disappointing thing because I would have loved to have added another Claret Jug.

"But because we have big tournaments coming up right now and because I am playing well, I don't want to (squander) another really good opportunity at a course I like while my game is sharp and let the effects or disappointment linger.

"The idea is just to get back and start playing at that level again and hopefully it will be enough this week."

Mickelson joked that he wouldn't have done anything different in the final round "other than maybe go over to Stenson's bag and bend his putter a little bit. That's probably the only thing I could have done and had a chance."

It's a laugh by a guy who is having more fun and playing stress free at the level he expects to perform.

And the last time he was at Baltusrol, he won a major that backed up his prior win at the Masters and even helped him secure another green jacket.

"It was important for me to validate my Masters win in 2004, because I had said going in that when I win one, that I'm going to win multiple - it wasn't going to be just a one-and-done," Mickelson said.

"I needed to come back in a fairly short time period and validate that first win. So that's what winning here at the PGA did, and it also gave me confidence to come back and win the following Masters a few months later."

Mickelson would be the fourth-oldest major champion in history with a victory this week at 46 years, one month and 15 days. He would trail only fellow 46-year-olds Jack Nicklaus from the 1986 Masters and Old Tom Morris from the 1867 British Open and the record of age 48 by Julius Boros at the 1968 PGA Championship.

And "Lefty" doesn't see his chances of winning a major dwindling.

"I don't believe there is a small window. I think there's a really big window of opportunity to add to my resume, to continue to compete in big events," said Mickelson.

"The feel and sensitivity of hitting shots, the ability to play golf courses a certain way, to visualise, to make birdies, to pull shots off - that has not diminished."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
42% - 8803 votes
11% - 2247 votes
19% - 4031 votes
2% - 516 votes
1% - 187 votes
2% - 488 votes
5% - 1028 votes
8% - 1773 votes
3% - 715 votes
Water sports
1% - 195 votes
American sports
1% - 260 votes
3% - 656 votes