Quick-rakes be damned, New Yorkers love them some Phil Mickelson. And the sentiment is reciprocated by the 48-year-old, a love affair partially fueled from Mickelson’s forays at Bethpage, finishing runner-up at both the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open.
But on the eve of major championship golf returning to the Long Island venue, Mickelson’s not in particularly high spirits.
Speaking on SiriusXM PGA Tour radio this week, Mickelson admitted, following a missed cut at the Wells Fargo Championship, he’s a bit uneasy heading into the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
“I missed the cut by quite a few, but the reason I thought it was going to be such a good week was I started to play really well. Now, I’m nervous going into the PGA Championship with this being my most recent performance,” Mickelson said. “I’m not excited about a missed cut, a week off, and then going into a major. That’s not the best way to do it.”
Mickelson came out of the gates firing in 2019, finishing in a tie for second at the Desert Classic and winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. However, in seven starts since his victory, the five-time major winner has missed three cuts and posted a lone top-25 finish (T-18 at the Masters).
Still, despite the recent struggles and Wanamaker apprehension, Mickelson’s confident his game will come together by the time he arrives in Farmingdale. A conviction stemming from his swing speed.
“Heading into Charlotte I really thought it was going to be a great week because the areas of my game, I felt, had been starting to come around,” Mickelson said. “My short-iron play started to get better, my putter started to get better, even though I putted horrifically at Charlotte. But, the biggest thing for me is that, historically I play well when I swing fast.
“So, I look at my driver speed and I say, ‘OK, if my speed is up, the other areas of my game are going to be, are going to do well.’ My long-iron play is going to be better, because if I’m swinging it faster I can hit my long irons higher, softer, straighter. When my speed is up my short game is better because I put more spin on the ball, I have more control. So, when my speed is up I usually play well. On the range my driver speed was averaging 123, 124 [mph]. So, that’s a lot of speed for me, more so than normal and that’s a good sign of the fact that my game is going to turn soon.”
Mickelson is a former PGA champ, winning the 2005 contest at Baltusrol. However, he has just one top-10 finish (a runner-up at the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla) at the event in his past 10 tries, missing the cut in his last two appearances. He enters Bethpage Black at 40-1 odds.