SAN FRANCISCO – Phil Mickelson won’t be playing without a driver in this U.S. Open.
He won’t be playing with two drivers, either.
Mickelson has tried those formulas in past majors, and he is sticking to a single driver this week, though he won’t be hitting it a lot as he tries to break past five second-place U.S. Open finishes to win this event for the first time.
“Phil likes to bomb it off the tee, said Butch Harmon, Mickelson’s swing coach. “So when he gets to a course like this, where you don’t hit many drivers, it works to his advantage, because he has to play more conservatively. He has a very conservative game plan this week, and I think on Sunday you’re going to see Phil with a chance.”
Mickelson is scheduled to play with Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson in a marquee pairing the first two rounds with the trio going off at 10:33 a.m. ET on Thursday. Mickelson and Woods have been paired together 30 times in PGA Tour events. Mickelson is 13-13-4 trying to better Woods.
It seems no coincidence Mickelson is 8-3-1 since he hired Harmon as his swing coach in the spring of 2007. Harmon, of course, formerly coached Woods. Much has been made of Harmon preparing Mickelson for certain psychological tactics Woods uses in competition.
“Yeah, we’ve had a lot of discussion about that, but we’ll just keep that where it is.” Harmon said.
Mickelson has shot a better score than Woods in five of their last seven pairings together, including Mickelson’s final-round rout of Woods at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am earlier this year. Mickelson shot 64 to Woods’ 75 and went on to win.
“I just try to tell Phil to embrace it,” Harmon said of the pairings. “Tiger is the best player in the world, and that’s who you want to be paired with every chance you get, so look at it as a challenge. Know if I can beat this guy, I’m going to have a good chance to win. Phil has taken a whole new outlook. He loves being paired with Tiger. He loves the challenge, and he respects Tiger and he loves the opportunity to go head to head with him.”