One year ago, Phil Mickelson appeared to be at the top of his golf game. Over the age of 50, one of the PGA Tour’s most beloved figures hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy as the winner of PGA Championship. A lot has changed over the past 12 months.
Mickelson looks anything but sharp — on the course or in press conferences — as he begins his journey with LIV Golf. His putting was abysmal in the London Invitational, LIV’s first event. The six-time major champion struggled throughout the 122nd U.S. Open, missing the cut after shooting 11-over-par through the first two rounds.
Life hasn’t gotten much easier for Mickelson on the LIV Golf tour. During this week’s event at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, the 52-year-old has posted a score of 75 in back-to-back rounds, putting him 6-over-par for the event.
Despite the apparent struggles on the golf course, Mickelson says he’s not discouraged by his play. He believes his game is better than the scorecard indicates.
“My game seems a lot better than I’m scoring,” Mickelson said, per Yahoo Sports. “Hitting a lot of good shots, then I’m making a lot of mistakes that are costing me five or six shots a round that I haven’t done when I’m playing my best.
“I’m not discouraged. I putted terrible in London (the first LIV event) and the U.S. Open. I’m putting really well. I feel really good with the putter.”
Mickelson enters the final round of the Portland Invitational tied for 36th. He finished the event in London in 33rd out of 48 golfers.
LIV, Love, Laugh for Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson earned a strong legacy as a member of the PGA Tour. During his career, he won 45 tour events and claimed six major championships, including three green jackets at The Masters. Because of that, many were surprised to see him jump ship and join Greg Norman’s LIV Golf league.
LIV doesn’t carry the same tradition or history as the PGA Tour, but that doesn’t seem to bother Mickelson. He’s been nothing but complimentary about the new league’s operations.
“From a player experience it’s a 10,” he said, per Yahoo Sports. “They have done everything imaginable to make the experience for the players and the fans as great as it can be and because of that I can’t wait to play these events.”
Of course, that $200 million paycheck might have something to do with “Lefty’s” outlook.
Although Mickelson looked uncomfortable during his U.S. Open presser back in June, it sounds like he’s back to his usual antics on the golf course. His patented thumbs up and smile returned as he hit the links in Portland this week.
Fred Couples’ Gripe with Phil Mickelson, LIV Golf
Phil Mickelson’s decision to join LIV Golf hasn’t come without criticism. Fred Couples is the latest to tee off on Mickelson and the new league.
Many of LIV’s new talent — Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and others — have pointed to LIV Golf’s player-friendly schedule as a reason to leave the PGA Tour. Others cite an opportunity to “grow the game” of golf.
Couples doesn’t buy any of it.
“These guys — you’ve seen their interviews, right?” Couples told Golf.com. “Have you ever seen Phil look so stupid in his life? They know it’s a joke.”
In September 2021, Couples and Mickelson served as vice-captains for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team. Less than a year later, the friendship between the two may be damaged beyond repair.
“I don’t think I’ll ever to talk to him again,” Couples said. “What for? I’m not in the same boat as him anymore, and probably never will play golf with him again. I’m not saying that to be mean. We’re just in different orbits.”