The spotlight would have been on Phil Mickelson anyway, given his longtime quest to win a U.S. Open, but it is heightened thanks to last month’s historic victory in the PGA Championship. Mickelson, who turns 51 on Wednesday, shared some insights with the media on Monday.
On the run-up to last month’s PGA victory: “You have those moments where you just know that things have clicked; I went out and played a number of rounds where I was able to hit the ball in play. I was not hitting it close, making putts. It just started to feel easy again, and when I went out on Tour, I wasn’t quite putting it together day-in and day-out like I was at home, but I knew it was just a matter of time. I had seen the progress. I knew that I was going to win again soon, but the results weren’t telling anybody else that. Unless you were playing with me day-to-day, you wouldn't have seen the progress, either.”
On his 30th U.S. Open start: “It’s a unique opportunity because I’ve never won a U.S. Open. It’s in my backyard. I have a chance to prepare properly, and I wanted to put in the right work. So I’ve shut off all the noise. I’ve shut off my phone. I’ve shut off a lot of other stuff to where I can focus in on this week and really give it my best chance to play my best. Now, you always need some luck, you always need things to kind of come together and click, but I know that I’m playing well, and I just wanted to give myself every opportunity to play at my best.”
On his Torrey Pines prep: “I’ve played out here a bunch since the [redesign], but I really haven’t spent a lot of time to learn the nuances, and I did that early last week. There’s a proper way to play here. I mean, Tiger’s won here eight or nine times. There’s a proper way to play here to each pin, and I just have tried to do too much in the past. I felt like if I could learn the greens and know what a lot of the 30- and 40-foot putts do, then I don’t have to try to get it into these tiny little shelves, and I can make easy pars and make a few of the longer putts. That was my thought process.”
On the inspiration he drew from Tom Brady: “When I’m around him, I learn a lot by just watching and observing the dedication, the hard work. When we would go play at Augusta, he would be up hours before we played. He would go to the gym and do a bunch of band work for an hour just getting his shoulders and knees and hips and everything firing and activated. He’s very disciplined in what he eats and recovery and taking the time to do the right things after the round. The way he can mentally slow down when things aren't going well and process it and then start to perform is another trait that you learn from him. It’s inspiring to see, because when you see somebody do what he’s doing, which is play football at the highest level at an age that nobody else has ever done it, it’s inspiring, and it’s motivating. When you see it happen, it’s much easier to do.”