Sometimes, everyone needs a little brushing up on the basics, even when its a college subject that you never, ever think youll need in your chosen profession.
I studied psychology in college, said Mickelson, and so I went over some notes and some books that I had. There was a very interesting study about shooting free throws where half of the--what is the word for people used for experiment?
Subjects, Phil, that is the word your looking for.
There you go, he said. Half the subjects shot only physically, all they did was shoot X-times per day. The other half shot mentally without any physical practice. So, after a week's preparation, they came back for their final analysis or test, and the mental rehearsal group dominated the other group.
That's basically the theory that I try to take in this week was instead of practicing physically for a week, I will take it off but I will still use mental rehearsal to prepare me for this event. Consequently, I have been working out of a much more positive frame of mind where all the shots that I have rehearsed come off the way they should. So, heading out to actually play the round I am expecting to hit good shots.
It worked. The first two days, Mickelson was merely solid, shooting a 67 and 68. The weekend, however, he was absolutely other-worldly. After his third-round 61, he shot to the lead over David Berganio, Jr. (by one), Chris DiMarco (by two) and Billy Andrade (by three).
Now it was Sunday, and the Ol Seer was at it right away. He birdied three of the first seven holes, blowing away all but Andrade, who was barely hanging on after making birdie at 2 and 3, but a bogey at No. 4.
He never gave us an opportunity, said DiMarco. He got off to a great start. You knew it was about time. You knew he wasnt going to throw them all away.
He didnt, of course. The only shaky point was on No. 16, when he made a bogey after a water ball and Andrade birdied to cut Mickelsons lead to one. Mickelson cracked good tee shots at 16 and 17, however, and boomed a 315-yarder on the 18th to finish with pars. Andrade couldnt birdie, and the tournament was Mickelsons ' as well as the 2002 Hartford event, incidentally.
I think those were the critical shots (16 and 17), Mickelson said. 'It is very easy to get some negative thoughts and make tentative swings but I was able to see what I wanted to do and hit the shot when I needed it.
He had hit upon the psychology books the week before when he was sitting around home. It was exactly what he needed, he felt, just the thing to go with all the work he had been doing on the physical game.
The last element that I have not put together is really my mental preparation - visualizing shots, preparing the proper way, mentally, to pull the best shots out during the round, said Mickelson.
And for that week, for whatever the reason, it all clicked.
It was just the right time in that to progress as a player, it's an evolution. It's not a hit or miss, he said. A lot of times we look at a player and say, Oh, he's played great this week; oh, he played poorly this week. It's an evolutionary process.
'From last year I started to really improve ball-striking wise. I spent a lot of time. This year where I am starting to control the trajectory and the spin the way I want to so that the balls coming into the green proper ways. Now I feel like the last element is preparing myself mentally to pull those shots out at the proper time.
Alas, this year Mickelson has not had the correct mental approach yet. He still hsn't won in 2003. But for one glorious week in 2001, everything worked perfectly. Phil Mickelson saw himself hitting all perfect shots, and the world saw him getting the winner's trophy.