Phil Mickelson already preparing for US Open
Pardon Phil Mickelson for gazing two months down the road.
Lefty already has the U.S. Open on his mind.
Eight days after winning his second Masters, Mickelson re-emerged from family time to start focusing on the rest of the 2006 season. Having won the PGA last August, he's halfway toward the Mickelson Slam, as well as being the only golfer with the chance to win the Grand Slam this year.
"I had a great week, but this morning, I had my first workout trying to get ready for the Open," Mickelson said Monday at a news conference at La Jolla Country Club, where he showed off his newest green jacket. "The preparation for the U.S. Open starts."
It's not that he's blowing off the non-majors. It's just that his perspective has changed after winning three of the last nine majors, following that dreadful 0-for-42 streak to start his career.
Mickelson will follow a two-off, three-on schedule through the U.S. Open. He'll skip Houston this week, then play in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wachovia Championship and the Byron Nelson. He'll take the following two weeks off, then play in the Memorial and the Barclays Classic before the Open at Winged Foot June 15-18.
Mickelson said he spent the last week resting, even though winning his second green jacket was relatively stress-free compared to the first, and going to Disneyland with his family.
"I've loved every minute of it, but now I want to start looking ahead and see if I can break through and win my first U.S. Open, because I've been so close so many times and haven't done it, with three seconds," he said. "I'd love to win that tournament very much."
Mickelson said he's settled into a routine in preparing for majors.
"I'll go to the course a couple of weeks prior and map out my strategy, how I want to play it, as well as the shots I'll be using, and try to practice those," he said. "So when I do enter the tournament, although it's a stressful week because it's a major and we want to win it so bad, I feel as though I'm much more prepared than in the past, when there was that element of uncertainty.
"I just have a lot more confidence that I'll be able to play well. Now, I don't always do it, but I certainly have more confidence that I'm able to."
His wife, Amy, attests to the change.
"I don't think people realize how hard he works and prepares for this," she said.
"I think the old Phil would rely on those amazing moments to kind of vault him along in the tournament, eagles and chip-ins, skip the ball across the water, whatever, bend it around the tree. That's the way he used to play majors a lot. It's good enough to get you in contention, but the way he manages his game now, he puts so much into preparing. It's very different. He's finally found what works for him."
Mickelson said he might continue to carry two drivers in his bag for the next few tournaments, like he did in winning the BellSouth Classic and the Masters in consecutive starts. But he definitely won't do it at the U.S. Open.
Having heard that Augusta National was going to be tweaked again, Mickelson said he and Callaway began working nine months ago on a driver that was an inch longer and allowed him to hit a power draw to pick up 20-25 yards.
At the U.S. Open, though, the worries will be narrow fairways and brutal roughs.
"Especially now with the U.S. Open, there's just no intention for me to use that driver there," Mickelson said. "I anticipate more 3-woods off tees than drivers, so there's really no need for distance. As long as Winged Foot is, we've got to get in the fairway there."