2001: PGA Tour - Power of positive thinking gives Mickelson the edge

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Cromwell, Conn.

Phil Mickelson went from beating himself up over his recent final-round failures to beating everybody else in the Canon Greater Hartford Open.

Booming drives and sticking with his new mental approach of visualizing shots, Mickelson recorded a 2-under-par 68 on July 1 for a 1-stroke victory over Billy Andrade at the muggy TPC at River Highlands.

“This is a good starting point,” said Mickelson, who finished at 16-under 264. On Saturday, he matched the course record with a career-best 61. After that round, the 31-year-old left-hander said he used visualizations techniques he learned at Arizona State to help him think positively.

“I’m visualizing the shot I want to hit and pulling it off,” said Mickelson, who dug through his old college psychology notes and textbooks in a bid to end a string of closing-day collapses.

“In the past, my mind would wander and I would start seeing shots that I didn’t want to hit. I was working out of a more negative frame of mind.”

After winning his 18th career title in San Diego in February, Mickelson faded on Sunday in the Masters, New Orleans, the Colonial and the U.S. Open. He was one of the best closers in golf the previous eight years, winning all nine times he had the 54-hole lead. He now has 12 victories in 16 career events with the 54-hole lead.

Mickelson, making his first appearance at TPC at River Highlands since 1994, birdied Nos. 3, 6 and 7 to reach 17 under. He made a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 3, and holed a 6-footer on the 574-yard, par-5 sixth after reaching the front left bunker in two shots. He hit a 335-yard drive on No. 7, and put a wedge shot to 4 feet to set up his final birdie. He parred the final three holes after dropping a stroke on the 296-yard 15th.

Andrade, coming off a third-place tie in the Buick Classic, made a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 18 after sliding a 12-footer by on No. 17. Andrade shot a 66. ­

While Mickelson played well on Sunday, it was his third-round 61 that gave him the lead and put him in position to win.

Mickelson set up an eagle with a 3-wood approach from 260 yards to about 12 feet on the 523-yard 13th hole. He made a 6-foot birdie putt on the 296-yard 15th after driving into a bunker, holed a 30-footer on the par-3 16th, and completed the bogey-free round with another 6-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

After playing the Western Open this week, Mickelson will turn his attention to the British Open July 19-22 at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

– From wire reports

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