Following an impressive three-under in the second round of the Masters — which elevated him into a tie for 10th at Augusta National — Phil Mickelson made a bold proclamation as he looks toward the weekend.
“I’m close to going on a tear,” Mickelson said. “Even though the scores haven’t shown it, I’m hitting so many good shots. Pretty soon I’m going to have a really low one. When that happens and it clicks, then the game feels easy again. Then I stop putting pressure on myself, and the scores just start to fall into place.”
It’s been a while since golf fans have seen Mickelson in the mix — not just at Augusta National but anywhere. His last (and only) top-10 finish on the LIV Golf tour came in September, while his last top-10 on the PGA Tour came back in May 2021 at the PGA Championship, which he won.
Oddsmakers, for good reason, were not high on Mickelson’s chances this week, but then again, there’s something about Augusta National that seems to bring out the best in Mickelson.
“I would use the word more spiritual,” Mickelson said when describing what the Masters means to him, “because, if you love golf, when you come here, it’s more of a spiritual experience, where you feel this appreciation for this great game and the gratitude that you have.
“Then this tournament, this course gives something for everybody to aspire to. If you’re a kid and you’re dreaming of playing in the Masters and you want to win it, it gives you something to aspire to. It did for me.”
With Mickelson — and several other band-names pro — representing LIV Golf at this Masters. the tournament has had a different feeling about it for months. Even before the annual honorary starter ceremony on Thursday, the drama surrounding the event was high, with golf fans curious to see how PGA and LIV players could coexist at Augusta — despite the dyamic feeling like two steam engines racing toward one another at full speed.
That drama has continued through the first two days of the tournament, with the current leader, Brooks Koepka, now playing on the LIV circuit.
And Mickelson’s fine play has only added to the intrigue.
“You wouldn’t think that at 52,” Mickelson said of the possibility of a renaissance. “You’d say, oh, well, what a great couple of days. Really all it is, it’s just on the precipice of playing as well as I played 15, 20 years ago, because I’m seeing that when I’m at home, I’m seeing that in practice. I’m just not quite letting it happen when I’m out in the tournaments yet.”
Could it all come together in the next two days?
“It’s possible,” he said. “Who knows when it will click. It could click tomorrow. I don’t know. Part of it is just slowing my mind down and letting it happen and then it clicks. But that’s kind of the biggest challenge in the game is not forcing it.”