Phil Mickelson almost pulled it off. The three-time Masters champion finished 14-under par at Augusta, and his 274 score would have been good enough to win the green jacket each of the last three years. In fact, it was lower that Mickelson’s score in two of his three Masters victories. But no one, including Lefty, was catching Jordan Spieth, who tied the all time Masters record by shooting 18-under.
Despite finishing second, Mickelson proved he still has what it takes to compete for a major championship. Here’s 12 reasons why Lefty will get at least one more before it’s all said and done.
1. Phil still competes at a high level at major championships.
At 44, Mickelson hasn’t played all that well in recent years on the PGA Tour. But he knows how to get up for the biggest events, having won the British Open in 2013 with a stirring final-round comeback, and finishing second in the last two majors going back to the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla, where he was one stroke behind Rory McIlroy.
“I don’t have a great explanation other than I really focus on those events,” Mickelson said. “It’s not my motivation to go out and try to grind out wins week after week. I want to zero in on our four or five biggest events, and I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to get some of my best golf out of those events.”
2. Mickelson is ultra-consistent at the majors.
Mickelson hasn’t just had a re-emergence these last two years. Since 2001, Mickelson has finished in the top five in at least one major every year except 2007. That streak shows remarkable consistency. Mickelson has now finished second in every major championship – a silver-medal slam. On a resume highlighted by five major titles and 42 PGA victories, it was Mickelson’s 10th second-place finish in golf’s biggest events.
3. The upcoming U.S. Open sites favor Phil.
Mickelson has never won the U.S. Open. Five of the next seven sites have hosted a previous U.S. Open, and Mickelson almost won three of those.
2018 – Shinnecock Hills (Mickelson finished 2nd in 2004)
2019 – Pebble Beach (Mickelson finished 4th in 2010)
2020 – Winged Foot (Mickelson finished 2nd in 2006)
Despite the fact Mickelson will be 50 years old when he tees off at Winged Foot, the sites couldn’t be set up any better for Lefty.
4. The upcoming PGA sites also favor Phil.
Whistling Straits hosts this year’s PGA Championship, where Mickelson finished 6th in 2004 and T12 in 2010. Next year’s PGA takes place at Baltusrol, the site of Mickelson’s 2005 (and only) PGA Championship.
Any way you slice it, the upcoming sites for both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship favor Mickelson. Throw in how well he plays at Augusta, and there’s ample opportunities for at least one more major.
5. Mickelson desperately wants the career Grand Slam.
Don’t underestimate how important the career Grand Slam is to Micklson. Lefty probably still has nightmares over the 2006 U.S. Open, the most gut-wrenching of his six runner up finishes. Only Tiger, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen have captured the career Grand Slam. Phil would be joining some elite company.
6. His short game is still great.
Mickelson is one of golf’s most crafty short game players of the last half century. He has impeccable feel around the greens and has the ability to get hot with his putter. Mickelson averaged 2.3 putts per greens in regulation at the Masters, and made 19 birdies over four rounds at Augusta.
7. Phil can still smash it off the tee.
To win on tour these days, players need to be able to hit the long ball. Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson are the two biggest hitters, and it’s no coincidence why they win a lot. Mickelson, despite his age, is still very powerful off the tee. So far in 2015, Mickelson is averaging 297 yards with his drive, which is good enough for 31st on tour and only about 18 yards behind DJ.
8. Mickelson thrives off fan support.
Mickelson is the most fan-friendly golfer of his generation, and he feeds of the support of his fans and more importantly, his family.
9. Mickelson doesn’t get derailed by injuries.
Since the 1994 U.S. Open, Mickelson has never missed a major, except for the 2009 Open Championship, which he missed to be with his wife Amy, who was recovering from breast cancer at the time. Think about that. Mickelson has played in 83 of the last 84 majors. Father time just doesn’t seem to catch up to Phil, as he’s never had a major injury to speak off (knock on wood). This bodes extremely well for his chances going forward.
10. We’re all rooting for him.
Surely this counts as a legitimate reason right? Who doesn’t want to see Mickelson get major number six, or better yet capture the U.S. Open and win the career Grand Slam? It’s just impossible not to root for the guy. Now come on Phil, two months ’til Chambers Bay!