Phil Mickelson finished the final round of The Players Championship by shooting a 1-under 71 and finished the week at Sawgrass Country Club at 3-over par. The former champion here in North Florida was still able to give the media a smile as he talked about his round and the week’s events.
“I always try to find positives in the week and the positive for me was that I had a few little mini breakthroughs in some of the ball striking things I’ve been looking for and I hit a lot of good long shots, a lot of good 4-, 5-, 6-irons, a lot of great drives, a lot of good long irons, a lot of good 3-woods,” he said just outside the clubhouse over by the 18th hole.
“The thing about this golf course is it’s really unrecoverable in a lot of spots, so when I did miss it big I made a big number and wasn’t able to really get in contention. But I feel like you can identify areas of strength and weakness in your game this week, I think I’ve done that, I’ll go home this week and work on some of those areas.”
It was vintage Mickelson, finding the silver lining. He admitted he did not play his greatest golf this week at The Players Championship, but was looking toward the week ahead with preparation on his mind.
“Area of weakness has been the simple things, the chips, the lag putting, the things that I normally do well I take for granted I’ve not been sharp on. I’ll put a little bit more attention to detail in that and see if I can take these average performances and turn them into contention.”
Mickelson came to The Players Championship and elected not to use the practice rounds to his advantage – something he again acknowledged when asked about his decision. The fact he used the time out of the heat and dry conditions to rest and prepare is something he did not regret.
“I felt the two days it paid off pretty well in the sense that I was sharp, I was fresh, I hit a lot of good shots and was able to deal with some of the things that go on here a lot easier because I wasn’t tired and frustrated,” said Mickelson. “I had a good first couple of days, gave myself a couple of opportunities and really should have been in contention come the weekend had it not been for a shot here or there. All in all, there’s a lot of positives to take out of this week. You could easily say I missed the cut here the last four years, so to make the cut and be here on Sunday, that’s something new.”
Mickelson beat Sergio Garcia by two strokes in 2007 for his one victory at The Players Championship. Now, he looks forward to the remainder of his tour schedule. He was candid in the fact that despite playing well in the tournaments he has played this year, is not good enough by his standards. Winning is something that has eluded him for some time, and he will work on more preparation to finally earn another victory.
“Out of the 12 tournaments I’ve played, I made all the cuts and I finished top-24 like nine times. But that is not my level of expectation and so there’s an element of frustration there in that that last little bit, which is about a stroke per round is what it comes down to that I’m letting slide that’s preventing me from getting in contention and having opportunities to win on the weekend,” he explained. “So, there’s an element of frustration there. However, the positive side is that the level of consistency day-in day-out overall ball striking and just overall level of play is consistently higher this year than it’s been in the last three or four. So, there’s that, there’s always a little bit of a mix between positive and negative.”
The 46-year-old Mickelson has won 42 tournaments over his career, including five majors.
The last time he won a golf tournament was the 2013 Open Championship. He was three shots better than Henrik Stenson