After making his 2017 debut a week earlier than anticipated, Phil Mickelson said Sunday following a final-round 70 at the CareerBuilder Challenge that his game is “further along” than he expected it to be.
The two-time CareerBuilder champion and newly appointed tournament ambassador originally announced he would start his season next week at the Farmers Insurance Open as he worked to come back from a pair of offseason hernia surgeries.
But on Wednesday, Mickelson decided to start his year in the desert, and after only a week of practice, he managed to finish in a tie for 21st at 11 under par.
“I hit a lot of good shots – still some poor ones – but a lot of good ones,” he said, summing up his week.
The five-time major winner is coming off something of a career revival in 2016 and credits his quick start after limited prep to the work he had put in before his surgeries.
“I felt my game was much further along than I thought it would be,” Mickelson said. “It was further along because I didn’t have to make any major changes to my swing plane and my iron game and so forth.”
Mickelson did say however that he will continue to adjust his footwork and tweak his swing with his driver after spending too much time last year trying to compensate for flaws.
“As I changed my footwork and starting working on the swing, I had to alter the driver makeup because I had been setting up the driver in a way to accommodate my swing problems,” he explained, “and that means, if I made a good swing, I’m not going to hit a good shot. So it’s going to take a little bit of time.”
With four rounds in the books, the San Diego native will now head to Torrey Pines, where he’s a three-time winner but hasn’t held the trophy since 2001.
“I think my expectations are going to increase each week because I got off to a good start this week in the sense that my game feels much closer, and as the week wore on, I hit more and more good shots and fewer really bad shots,” he said. “That was a good sign, and I’m looking forward to the next three-four tournaments.”