Phil Mickelson optimistic as ever despite disappointing finish at Shriners

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Phil Mickelson optimistic as ever despite disappointing finish at Shriners

PGA Tour

Phil Mickelson optimistic as ever despite disappointing finish at Shriners

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LAS VEGAS – Phil Mickelson’s journey back to the standard of golf he expects to deliver wasn’t a smooth ride in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Playing in Las Vegas for the first time since 2005 and coming off a missed cut the previous week in the Safeway Open, Mickelson put in some good prep work ahead of the first round and was confident his game would turn the corner and contention would be in sight at TPC Summerlin.

All signs were of the positive note after he opened with rounds of 66-69, which placed him just three shots off the lead heading into the weekend. He was excited, confident and eager for the final two rounds.

Then nothing went right for Lefty in Saturday’ third round. On a day where six players shot 63 or better and the field averaged 67.75, Mickelson was 5 over at one point and had to rally to shoot 74.

Mickelson did his best to salvage what he could with a final-round, 4-under-par 67, but the week as a whole was the latest disappointing performance that extended a slump that’s now reached six months.

SHRINERS: Updates | Leaderboard | Photos

Mickelson, however, remains his optimist, resilient self despite finishing well down on the leaderboard and well in back of the leaders.

“I came out and had two good rounds out of four,” Mickelson said. “I didn’t obviously compete, but the road back to playing well is a process, and today or this week was a good start on that process. I identified a few areas to continue to work on, but there were some areas of strength as well.
It was a good week and I look to build on it.”

He’ll make his next start in the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in Korea in two weeks.

After winning his 44th PGA Tour title in last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the five-time major champion has missed nine cuts in his last 19 starts and finished better than 35th just once. He’s fallen to No. 44 in the world.

On Sunday, Mickelson, despite his fine score, couldn’t fully cash in when opportunity presented itself. Check out this three-hole stretch.

After a splendid 3-wood from 290 yards on the par-15th set up an eagle try from eight feet, Mickelson missed and tapped in for birdie. On the next hole, the par-5 16th, he hit a fine iron to 11 feet to set up another eagle attempt but again missed and settled for a tap-in birdie.

On the par-3 17th, he knocked his tee shot into the water and made bogey.

Still, Mickelson was concentrating on the bright side of his game.

“I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of stock cut drivers in play,” he said. “Iron play was sharp. Flew a lot of wedges and short irons the right number. My short irons have not been sharp the last six, eight months. They were really good this week. They were much, much better.

“I hit a lot of good putts the first and fourth rounds, hit them online. Didn’t make a ton, but I hit a lot of good putts. I had a rough putting week the second and third rounds. I’ll work on that.”

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