Mickelson Learns Lesson of Staying Positive


Phil Mickelson learned a valuable lesson when he won the MasterCard Colonial last year. He learned there is rarely a deficit that is too large to be whittled down by a determined golfer. Shoot a good number, forget about winning, and you never know what will happen.
I remember most standing on the 10th tee seven shots behind and feeling as though I really didnt have a shot at winning, he said. I decided just to play a solid back nine and let whatever happened, happen.
I birdied the first three holes of the backside, with a bogey or two by the leaders, and I was in contention. I looked and saw I was closing rapidly on the lead. That gave me confidence that I could do it, and I went on to win.
Mickelson used the five birdies on the back to fashion a final-day 63 on the par-70 Colonial course. Such was his domination that he won by two shots over the runners-up, Davis Love III and Stewart Cink.
This is a new year, and though Mickelson has finished in the top three six times, he won only the Buick Invitational. This could be the start of something new as he enters his second big flurry of activity corresponding with the majors.
I played five in a row my last stint with No. 5 being the Masters, he said. This time Im playing four in a row, Ill take a week off, and then play two more ending in the U.S. Open.
I play better when I play more tournaments. I have the opportunity to work hard on my game over a longer period of time, as opposed to working on my game in two-week increments. I think it is important to play under competitive, tournament situations. Scoring under difficult conditions is what we have to do, and we dont have the chance to do that playing at home. Its just not the same.
The U.S. Open this year is at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., and Mickelson noted the amazing similarities between Colonial and Southern Hills ' starting with the fact that both courses were designed by Perry Maxwell.
You have very similar greens styles, very similar bunker styles, same basic grasses, he said. It looks to me as though these two courses are as much alike as two courses can be. Thats why they are so highly regarded, because they are such straight-forward tests of golf.
Look back at the record books when Tommy Bolt won here and the same year, 1958, won the U.S. Open at Southern Hills. Nick Price in 94 won both this tournament and the PGA at Southern Hills. I think its a real possibility that whomever wins here will also win at Southern Hills.