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Mickelson eyes a big year with focus back to golf
It was only late in the season, before the PGA Championship, that Mickelson revealed he had been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. He never said just now much it held him back. Even now, he says only that he was lucky to have caught it early before it did any permanent damage to his joints, and that medication has allowed him to resume his normal work.
“We thought 2010 was going to be a phenomenal year,” swing coach Butch Harmon said Tuesday. “He was in the best physical shape. Amy was on the road to recovery. And then along comes June, and the arthritic thing hit him. The mental side was the toughest. Phil hid this very well, but he thought his career could have been over with. That was playing on his mind.”
Mickelson brought his entire family and Harmon to Abu Dhabi, where he tied for 37th. Harmon said they worked on his game in Abu Dhabi, and that Lefty’s short game showed plenty of rust from not having competed in two months.
Beyond the swing, they talked about course management.
“One of the things I told him at Abu Dhabi was his process of thinking wasn’t very good,” Harmon said. “We not only worked on his game, but we worked on the mental side of how he plays. I told him, ‘I never want to take away your aggressiveness. I’m not trying to make you conservative. I’m trying to make you smart.’”
That showed itself throughout the week at Torrey Pines, and even on the final hole.
His mistake was a tee shot that he popped up slightly and pushed to the right, although he appeared to have a decent lie, and the tees were moved up so much that Mickelson had only 228 yards left.
“We saw his ball and thought, ‘This is awesome.’ And when we got within 10 feet of it, going for the green wasn’t even an option,” Mackay said. “He would have had to curve it a tremendous amount, and it had all this grass around it.”
The only choice was to lay up, and that’s when Mickelson sent his caddie to the green. Mackay didn’t think anything of that, either. Mickelson said a dozen or so times a year, the flag gets in the way of a wedge shot.
One of those occasions was at the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2009 on the 15th hole. A year later, Mickelson hit the pin on the same hole and watched it ricochet off the green. At least the second time, he chipped in for birdie.
Pin or no pin, he had to settle for birdie at Torrey Pines and a runner-up finish. Regardless, it was his best start to a PGA Tour season since he won the Bob Hope Classic in 2004.
Next up is the Phoenix Open, followed by Pebble Beach and Riviera. He has won each of those events at least twice.
Harmon began working with Mickelson in 2007, right before Lefty captured The Players Championship. Then came a wrist injury that summer. His wife and mother were diagnosed with breast cancer weeks apart in 2009. The arthritis arrived in 2010.
“It’s the first time in the last three years there hasn’t been any turmoil Phil’s his life,” Harmon said. “We haven’t had one year where everything falls into place.”
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
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