Phil Mickelson, who blamed his recent stretch of lousy golf on lethargy and lack of focus, said Monday that he expected his performance to improve substantially this week at the Bridgestone Invitational.
“This last week was a great week for me practice‑wise. I feel like my game has really made a turn,” Mickelson told reporters gathered at Bethpage State Park ahead of next month’s kick-off to the 2012 FedEx Cup playoff season, The Barclays.
Speaking by phone, Mickelson conceded he would have to wait to “post a number” at Firestone Country Club before pronouncing his game fit, but he sounded confident that it was on an upswing.
“The proof in golf is always in the score,” Mickelson said, “but I feel much, much better about my game than I did just a week ago at the British Open.”
Mickelson has missed the cut in his last two PGA Tour starts, including the British Open, and has not broken par in his most recent nine rounds. He acknowledged last week on “CBS This Morning” that his concentration has been sorely lacking.
“Mentally I haven’t been focusing as fine as I need to,” Mickelson said in a July 26 interview with Charlie Rose. “I’ve been a little bit lethargic the last two months.”
The downturn in Mickelson’s game came as something of a surprise, given the positive start to his 2012 season. On his way to an 8-under 64 in the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February, he absolutely pummeled playing partner Tiger Woods. He followed that up with a strong showing at the Northern Trust Open, when he and Keegan Bradley lost to Bill Haas in a playoff.
After sharing third place at the Masters, Mickelson’s game hit a speed bump. He blamed “mental fatigue” for his withdrawal from the Memorial tournament after posting a first- (and only) round 79.
“The last two months I haven’t played my best,” Mickelson told Rose. “I haven’t played with the same purpose, the same intention, whether it’s the approach heading into the golf tournament or whether it’s on each individual shot. That’s what I’m going to focus on to get this back on track.”
With a loaded Bridgestone field that includes Woods, defending champ and British Open runner-up Adam Scott, top-ranked Luke Donald, and Masters winner Bubba Watson, Lefty will have an opportunity to test his newfound self-assurance against some of the world’s best. He said he was up to the test.
“I can't wait to play these next seven of nine events and I feel like things have really turned around,” Mickelson stated. “I'm really looking forward to posting a low score at Akron.”