Stat attack!: Looking back on Phil's career

By John AntoniniJune 3, 2014, 6:47 pm

Depending on your math, Phil Mickelson is about to play in his 500th PGA Tour event at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, or he just reached that milestone with his T-49 finish at the Memorial.* Either way, as Mickelson prepares for a run at the U.S. Open and the career grand slam, there’s no better time to look at the career of one of the game’s all-time greats.

*The PGA Tour statistic database credits Mickelson with 499 events entering this week, but it fails to count the 1991 or 1994 British Opens that Phil played because the tournament was not official on the PGA Tour at the time. It also appears that Mickelson - and other members of the 1994 U.S. Presidents Cup team - were given credit for playing in a PGA Tour event that week. I’m inclined to count the British Opens and not count the Presidents Cup, which means Phil would have made his 500th start at Memorial, but for the sake of this exercise we’ll go with the Tour’s counting and call Memphis Mickelson’s 500th official tournament. Of course, when detailing Mickelson’s performance in the majors, we’ll make sure to add all of his British Opens.

Mickelson is ninth on the PGA Tour's all-time victory list with 42 wins. He has won 41 times in the United States and once - the 2013 British Open - in Scotland. He has won in 10 different states, with 13 of those wins coming in California. For all the love Mickelson has gotten from New York galleries, especially in his four runner-up finishes in U.S. Opens held in the Empire State, he has never won in New York, though he has won in nearby New Jersey and Connecticut.

States in which Phil Mickelson has won on the PGA Tour

 State Wins Total starts Tournament wins
 California 13 93

4-AT&T Pebble Beach, 3-Farmers,
2-T of C, 2-Humana, 2-Northern Trust

 Georgia 8 47 3-Masters, 3-BellSouth,
3-Tour Championship
 Arizona 6 39 3-Tucson, 3-Phoenix
 Texas 4 42 2-Colonial, 1-Nelson,
 Florida 3 60 1-Arnold Palmer, 1-Players,
 Colorado 2 14 2-International
 Connecticut 2 5 2-Travelers
 Ohio 1 35 1-World Series
 Massachusetts 1 9 1-Deutsche Bank
 New Jersey 1 6 1-PGA

States where Phil Mickelson has made the most starts without winning

 State Starts Best finish
 Illinois 18 T-8, 2010 BMW Championship
 New York 17 2, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009 U.S. Open
 North Carolina 16 2, 1999 U.S. Open, 2010 Quail Hollow
 Nevada 12 2, 2000 Las Vegas
 Maryland  9 T-3, 2001 Kemper Open
 South Carolina 8 3, 1998, 2002 Heritage
 Michigan 7 T-4, 2000 Buick Open

Mickelson has played 86 major championships, winning five times, with eight runner-up finishes and seven thirds. Six of those second-place finishes have come in the U.S. Open, the only major he has not won.  His 35 top-10 finishes in majors are the second-most since 1990, behind Tiger Woods, who has 38 top 10s.

Phil Mickelson's major record

 Major Starts Wins Top 10s Cuts made Missed cuts Earnings
 Masters 22 3 14 20 2 $6,816,162
 U.S. Open 23 0 10 21 2 4,212,216
 British 20 1 3 16 4 2,992,024
 PGA 21 1 8 20 1 3,011,727
 Total 86 5 35 77 9 11,031,373

Players with the most top-10 finishes in majors since 1990

 Player Top 10s Wins Runner-ups
 Tiger Woods 38 14 6
 Phil Mickelson 35 5 8
 Ernie Els 34 4 6
 Vijay Singh 23 3 1
 Davis Love III 21 1 3
 Jim Fuyrk 20 1 3
 Sergio Garcia 18 0 3

Mickelson has never been No. 1 on the Official World Golf Ranking, although he has been second on 10 different occasions for a total of 270 weeks, most recently for five weeks last summer after he won the British Open. Mickelson first broke into the top 100 on the OWGR on August 22, 1993 and into the top 50 for the first time on Nov. 28, 1993. Since that week he has never been lower than 47th in the world. He made his first top-10 appearance on August 25, 1996. 

The fact he has never been ranked No. 1 in the world bookends nicely with the knowledge that Mickelson has never won the PGA Tour money title. He is the second-leading money winner in PGA Tour history with more than $73 million, but his career-best rank in earnings is second, which he reached five times (1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2007). He was in the top-10 in earnings 14 times, fourth-most all time. He is the leading money winner in the history of the Northern Trust Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Phoenix Open. He is runner-up in earnings at seven other PGA Tour stops, including the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Events where Phil Mickelson is No. 1 or No. 2 on the all-time money list

 Tournament Money rank Earnings
 Northern Trust 1 $3,570,703
 AT&T Pebble Beach 1 4,670,667
 Phoenix Open 1 3,715,863
 Wells Fargo 2 2,640,213
 Masters 2 6,816,162
 Farmers Insurance Open 2 3,029,516
 Humana Challenge 2 2,066,082
 HSBC Champions  2 1,761,500
 PGA Championship  2 3,011,627
 U.S. Open 2 4,212,216

Most times finishing in the top-10 on the money list

 Player Years in top 10
 Jack Nicklaus 18
 Sam Snead 15
 Tiger Woods 15
 Phil Mickelson 14
 Arnold Palmer  13

Mickelson’s lowest 72-hole aggregate score of 256 at the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open is tied for the third lowest total in PGA Tour history. It was one of two times he was 28-under par in a Tour event (with the 2006 BellSouth Classic), the sixth best mark in Tour history. He is one of two players who have shot 60 or lower twice on the PGA Tour, having accomplished the feat at TPC Scottsdale in 2005 (second round) and 2013 (first round). (Zach Johnson is the other player to shoot 60 twice.) He has shot 64 or better in a round 49 times.

Mickelson’s low rounds on the PGA Tour

 Score Times shot Most recent
 60 2013 Phoenix
 61 1 2001 Hartford
 62  2 2009 Northern Trust
 63 17 2014 Wells Fargo
 64 27 2012 BMW Championship

Mickelson led the PGA Tour in putting per GIR and birdie average in 2013. It was the second time he led in birdies per round, having also led in 2001. He was the Tour leader in all-around rank in 2001-2002. Here are his season-best stats in the Tour’s basic statistical categories

Phil Mickelson’s season bests

 Statistic Career best Year 2014 average 
 Driving distance 306.0 yards 2003 290.7 yards
 Driving accuracy 71.08 percent 1995 57.92 percent
 Greens in regulation 69.91 percent 2001 67.59 percent
 Strokes gained/putting +.655 2013 -.032
 Birdies per round 4.49 2001 3.83
 Scoring average 69.162 2004 70.787
 Sand saves 62.50 percent 2008 60.00 percent
 All-around total 176 2001 556

One final thought: Mickelson has only played this week's FedEx St. Jude Classic three times in his career, but he was runner-up in Memphis in 2013, when he was two strokes back of winner Harris English. Mickelson was T-59 at TPC Southwind in 2009, and he missed the cut in 2001 in his other start.

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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”