AKRON, Ohio – Phil Mickelson sure figured things out in a hurry.
A day after a discouraged Mickelson called his iron game “pathetic,” he rattled off 10 birdies to card an 8-under 62 in the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
It’s his lowest score ever shot at Firestone, where he has played nearly every year since 1993, and it serves as his lowest round of the season, one shot better than his 63 at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I don’t know what to say. It just kind of came out of nowhere,” Mickelson said. “What I’ve been struggling with was my short irons, getting them close and making birdies. Today it was right on.”
Mickelson has painted an optimistic picture throughout 2014 despite a lack of high finishes, but his outlook was decidedly more sour after the third round at Firestone.
“I really thought after the Scottish (Open) and the British (Open), my game was really close to clicking,” he said. “And then the first two rounds here came, and I don’t know what happened. It was just terrible.”
Mickelson erased any negativity with his final round, a performance in which he made the most of his chances. He hit only 11 greens in regulation, but managed to make 10 birdies – after compiling only seven during the first 54 holes – including a 91-yard hole-out for birdie on No. 13.
“When you feel like you’re close, all you need is for it to just click one day, and all of a sudden you’re off and running,” he said. “If I play well next week, I’ll look back to today’s round as being the key point.”
Mickelson will now head down the road to Valhalla with significant momentum as he looks to win the PGA Championship for the second time – and notch his first top-10 of the season.
“Certainly, my confidence heading into the PGA is astronomically higher than it was 24 hours ago,” Mickelson said. “I feel like heading into Thursday’s round, that I’m not searching to find something, that I have what I’m looking for. I just have to maintain it and put together mentally a good, four solid rounds.”
Mickelson was adjacent to the ninth fairway when Tiger Woods withdrew with a back injury, and he expressed hope that Woods will still be able to tee it up next week in Louisville, when the two are slated to play the first two rounds together alongside Padraig Harrington.
“It didn’t look good. It looked like he was really in pain,” he said. “I hope it’s a muscle and nothing serious because I’m really looking forward to playing with him. We rarely get paired together.”