‘I expect to contend’: Phil Mickelson bullish on chances in upcoming majors
Three weeks ago, Phil Mickelson stepped to the podium at Augusta National having just delivered the shock of the year in professional golf.
At the time, it seemed even Phil was surprised by his runner-up finish at the Masters. As he spoke in front of a small media scrum, he peered timidly through the wire rims of his gray glasses, refusing to comment on the result of the tournament finishing just a few feet away. He took only three questions then — and only a handful more in a subsequent interview setting — offering only that he was encouraged by the week and grateful for the opportunity to continue competing at his age.
Three weeks later, it seems reality has set in. At a pre-tournament press conference for this weekend’s LIV event in Singapore, the six-time major champ was ebullient about the state of his golf game and, in particular, what it means for his future major chances. Asked specifically how his finish in Augusta would aid in future starts, Mickelson’s eyes lit up.
“It is 100 percent making me better and 100 percent helping me get back to a level of play that I believe I can play at,” he said. “I think I’m going to give myself quite a few chances now in some upcoming majors.”
And what’s making Phil feel so good about the state of his game? Well, perhaps the better question is: what isn’t?
“My game is coming around,” he said. “My driving is getting significantly better, my putting is getting significantly better, and the areas of my game are getting much sharper. Although I haven’t had the results for a long period of time, it is on an upward trend, and I’m looking to add to it this week.”
Of course, Mickelson is just three weeks away from a (likely) return to the PGA Championship, his first start at the event since he won it (also in stunning fashion) in 2021. (Phil skipped last year’s event in Tulsa while he was “stepping away” from the game and suspended by the PGA Tour.) After that, it’s off to the U.S. Open in Los Angeles, where he’ll face the opportunity to finally complete the career grand slam.
At 52 years old, he’s far from the betting favorite. But he likes his chances.
“With a stretch of a lot of golf coming up in the next three, four months, and a lot of great major championship opportunities with my game coming around, I expect to participate and compete and contend in these events,” he said.
It’d surely be something if he does contend, particularly considering his best finish in any start other than the Masters this year was a 16th-place finish last weekend in Australia.
It’s possible, of course, that Mickelson’s game really is trending up. It’s possible he could make another run up the leaderboard during one of golf’s big four weeks. But even after his performance at Augusta, that would qualify as a surprise — a major one.
“Again, I have a unique opportunity to do things in a game at a later point in life that many aren’t because of the simple reason that I’ve kept myself in good shape,” he said. “I have been fairly injury free, and I’m able to work and practice the necessary amount to play at a high level.”