Wednesday 23 May 2018

Good memories for Mickelson

Baltusrol happy hunting ground as Phil won second major there

Phil Mickelson has a quick opportunity to make up for missing out on a second British Open title. Picture Credit: PA
Phil Mickelson has a quick opportunity to make up for missing out on a second British Open title. Picture Credit: PA

Phil Mickelson this week will look to put the heartache of missing out on a second British Open title behind him at the scene of his vital second major victory.

Mickelson carded a flawless 65 in the final round at Royal Troon to finish 17 under par, a total which would have won or forced a play-off in 141 of the 145 Open Championships staged to date.

However, the 46-year-old was denied a sixth major title by a stunning performance from playing partner Henrik Stenson, whose closing 63 equalled the lowest score recorded in any major - Mickelson having done so as well in the first round - and gave him a winning total of 264, the lowest in major history.

Fortunately for Mickelson, golf's return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 has resulted in a compressed schedule with just one week between the Open and US PGA Championship, which the left-hander won the last time it was staged at Baltusrol in 2005.

"That was really a fun week," Mickelson said. "That was something I cherish.

"I've gone back there a number of times, they were nice enough to give me a membership and the head pro there Doug Steffen and I became very good friends and we go back and relive that final round and those moments. It was a Monday finish, which was rare, but certainly special."

Mickelson was facing a par putt on the 14th when the final round was suspended due to a thunderstorm, leaving Tiger Woods as the leader in the clubhouse and 12 players to return to Baltusrol on Monday morning.

After holing out on the 14th, Mickelson also parred the next before a bogey on the 16th dropped him back into a tie for the lead with Australian Steve Elkington and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn.

Both players were unable to birdie the par-five 18th and that left Mickelson needing to get up and down from short of the green for his own birdie to add the US PGA title to his maiden major triumph in the 2004 Masters.

"It really wasn't that hard of a shot because the lie was okay and there was a bit of a hollow, so the shorter I hit it the ball was going to chase and the further I hit it the ball was going to slow down," Mickelson added.

"I felt like I had a pretty good margin of error and hit it to about three feet. It was a good feeling. That was an important one because I always felt like once I won one major I was going to win multiple times. I needed to get that second one and got it fairly soon, a year and a half later."

Mickelson has been paired with defending champion Jason Day and two-time winner Rory McIlroy for the first two rounds, while the tradition of having the winners of the year's first three majors - Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson and Stenson - in the same group has been maintained.

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