SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Phil Mickelson fell short of winning a second major this year or reaching No. 1 in the rankings. These days, nothing seems to faze Lefty’s mood after he announced he has psoriatic arthritis and medication has eased the pain.
“I feel like nothing’s wrong right now. I feel normal,” Mickelson said Sunday after shooting a 67 to complete the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits at 6-under 282. “I don’t want to say it’s gone away, but all the symptoms have gone away and I feel great.”
It was a wild week for the four-time major champion, who was plagued by inconsistency until Sunday’s flourish. He said he’ll build off his final round performance at Whistling Straits when he starts the FedEx Cup chase at The Barclays on Aug. 26.
Beside disclosing his arthritic condition that’s under control, he also announced he was a vegetarian.
“I’ve been able to work out and get my strength back and flexibility, so I feel terrific. I’ve responded quickly,” he said. “I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong right now. I’ve been fortunate so far. I just hope that I still react as well as I have to the meds.”
The 40-year-old Mickelson said earlier this week he woke up just before the U.S. Open with “intense pain” in his tendons and joints.
Stretching and anti-inflammatories eased the pain, and he went ahead and played Pebble Beach, but the condition got progressively worse during the U.S. Open and a family vacation, spreading to his knees, hips and elbows.
After the British Open, Mickelson made a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where doctors confirmed the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis, which causes joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
“I feel great after just over two weeks of treatment,” he said.
The good feelings come even though Mickelson will remain second in the World Golf Ranking. He needed one of five scenarios to play out – all of them involving a finish of no worse than fourth.
Tiger Woods will keep that spot for a record 271st consecutive week, even though Mickelson doesn’t mind the repeated questions of when he’ll be No. 1 for the first time in his career.
“If I just can start playing well, I think I can get that done,” Mickelson said with a smile. “It just wasn’t to be this week.”
More sharp rounds like Sunday’s will help.
He eagled the par-5 fifth and was just short of a hole in one on the par-3 seventh, which he birdied to move to 4 under. Mickelson then reeled off three consecutive birdies on Nos. 12-14, including sticking his second shot on the 14th inside the shadow of the flagstick to move to 7 under.
“I had some good opportunities, then I made a few putts. It was just a fun day,” said Mickelson, who won the 2005 PGA. “I thought the conditions were much more difficult. I thought if I could get to 9 (under) or 10 (under) I was going to delay my flight because you just never know, but 6 under is not going to be enough.”
His aggressiveness never wavered, either. On No. 18, he ignored the advice of caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay to be conservative after his tee shot was in the rough.
“I said, ‘Look, I’m not thinking consequences of a bad shot.’ I was trying to make a three,” Mickelson said. “The last thing I was thinking about was anything other than trying to win the tournament.”
Mickelson went for the green, ending up in more trouble.
His chip from an awkward lie on his third shot was long, forcing him to two-putt for bogey. After this week, not even the down note could sour his mood.
“Winning a major makes the year special,” he said. “I was trying to get a little greedy and see if I could get a second one. Unfortunately, I didn’t play good enough golf. Had a fun week, though. I really enjoyed my time here.”