Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Mickelson up for a Major year

It has been four years since Phil Mickelson shrugged off the burden of being the best player never to have won a Major.

Since his triumph at Augusta in 2004 he has collected one more green jacket and added a US PGA title to his resume.

Overall, the Open Championship apart, his major record stands comparison to most players.

He has finished runner-up in the US Open four times and finished in the top ten at Augusta every year from 1999 until he finished in 24th place last time out when the most notable contribution was to present Zach Johnson with his green jacket as the defeated champion.

"I was certainly disappointed in my performance in the majors last year, and I'm excited about the upcoming majors because the changes that Butch (Harmon) and I have implemented are finally starting to settle in, and I feel very comfortable with them," he said.

"So I will hopefully have a good year."

Mickelson makes it clear that his disappointing performances in the majors -he missed the cuts at both the US Open and at Carnoustie and only tied for 32nd at the PGA - did not mean 2007 was a disappointing year.

He did, after all, win three times on the PGA Tour, including The Players Championship and a thrilling duel with Tiger Woods at the Boston play-off event in September. He also won in China last autumn.

"Any disappointment was offset with the win at the Players," he said.

"That's kind of the next best thing. And the head-to-head win at the Deutsche Bank gave me some confidence heading into this year."

Mickelson had just started working with swing instructor Harmon last spring, and he acknowledged the relationship as full-time before the Players.

"This year, I feel like I'm driving it and hitting the long stuff as good as I ever had, and I'm excited for those sterner tests of golf to come along," he said of the majors.

"The more penalising events, I'm looking forward to."

But it hasn't been a vintage start to the year for Mickelson, although he did start off with a tournament win in January when he came out on top in the North Trust Open.

He failed to make much of an impression in the World Matchplay in Arizona and trailed in last month's CA Championships for a share of 20th place.

And he managed only a share of 23rd place in last week's Shell Houston Open.

But he prepares assiduously for the Majors, particularly the season's first , making regular trips to Georgia to play.

He knows a third green jacket would place him in very illustrious company.

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