Phil Mickelson says he needs to focus on this more as he gets older
Phil Mickelson is ready for a break. He said as much when he spoke to the media at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Wednesday at Phoenix Country Club.
It’s the final event of the season for the PGA Tour Champions, and Mickelson — who is playing in Phoenix instead of the PGA Tour stop in Houston — said he’s going to “shut it down after this.”
Mickelson, now 51, has had quite the year. He won the PGA Championship in May and won the PGA Tour Champions’ Constellation Furyk & Friends in October. He’s still ranked 34th in the World, and a big reason for that has been his commitment to working out and eating right to be able to compete with younger golfers.
When Mickelson puts away his clubs after the Charles Schwab, he says he’ll get back to the gym. But there’s one thing in particular he says he needs to focus on to compete with today’s young stars.
“I’ll start working on my fitness again to get speed back up,” he said. “It seems as though as the year goes on, slowly, slowly the speed starts to decline. So I have to really work hard now at 51 to keep my speed up and be competitive on the regular tour. It’s not easy. Those guys hit the ball a long ways, they’re incredible players.”
Mickelson hasn’t cracked the top 100 in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee since 2015, but he still ranked 54th in driving distance last year (301.8 yards) and is by no means short off the tee, which, he’ll tell you, is due to his speed-training work. It was a big key to his victory on Kiawah Island, too.
“When I get a moment like I had in May [at the PGA], it makes it all worthwhile,” he said. “So I’m going to keep striving to having a few more of those moments.”
Mickelson’s plan to gain speed and hit the ball farther started, at least publicly, a few years ago. (Remember how he said he wanted to “hit bombs” before the 2019 Masters?)
“You can win on the PGA Tour not hitting the ball long,” Mickelson said last year. “But you cannot dominate the sport without speed.”
Mickelson is paired with Glen Day for the first round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. They tee off at 12:50 p.m. ET on Thursday.