Phil Mickelson has no top-10 finishes, let alone wins, this year, which bodes ill for Lefty’s chances this week at the U.S. Open, says 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner and Golf Channel analyst Arron Oberholser.
"I don’t like his chances this week, based on everything that’s going on right now with his game," Oberholser said on Tuesday as cameras followed Mickelson, who was playing a pocket-picking practice round at Pinehurst with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Open rookie Justin Thomas. "He probably will play well but I’m not picking him."
Oberholser pointed to Mickelson’s less-than-stellar performance and his own comments throughout the 2014 season, in which he’s 0-for-14 starts, including three missed cuts and two injury-related withdrawals, to support his thesis that this is not Mickelson’s year to win his first U.S. Open.
Specifically, Oberholser pointed to the competitive "heat" that has been missing from the Mickelson march since he beat the odds and won the British Open last July
"Every time we talk to Phil [he says], ‘I like to feel a little heat ... I like to feel the juices flowing and I haven’t felt that this year,’" Oberholser said. "If he’s telling me that he needs to feel it and that he hasn’t felt it, then why the heck should I pick him?
"You want to crown him, crown him," Oberholser challenged his fellow "Live From" hosts, Ryan Burr and Brad Faxon. "I’m not going to this week ... There’s too much ancillary stuff going on."
Oberholser did not mention, at least by name, the primary off-course issue Mickelson’s dealing with -- his involvement in a Federal probe into insider trading -- focusing more on the pressure on the five-time major champion to get over the hump of his six runner-up finishes. That, and the fact that Phil, who had crowds three and four deep following his practice round, is the headliner this week with Tiger Woods still recovering from back surgery.
"He can try to do what he wants to do to try to push that out of the way but it’s still going to be on his mind," said Oberholser. "Even though his game is trending in the right direction [he finished T11 last week in Memphis], I don’t think it’s where he wants it."
Oberholser asked rhetorically if Mickelson, who has the putter he used to win at Muirfield last year back in his bag and the claw grip back on the flat stick, could "magically" recapture his form and complete the Lefty Slam.
"Absolutely," he said of Mickelson, who owns trophies from three grand slam events and would be the sixth player of all time to win all of four. "Will it? I’m one of the guys that says I don’t think it will."