PHIL'S SCORING SECRET No. 1:
Trade yards for accuracy
Remember when Phil carried two drivers? During most of 2013 he left his driver completely out of the bag, opting for a Callaway driver/hybrid prototype dubbed "Phrankenwood" or going solely with his standard X Hot 3Deep 3-wood. Smart choice by Phil, even if these higher-lofted tee-box alternatives cost him a few yards because he was prone to hanging back on his left side and trying to "work" the ball into the air with his lower-lofted drivers. With the Phrankenwood and 3-wood, he had an easier time moving to his right foot and made a more level swing through the ball.
Phil has always been a little shaky off the tee. It cost him most dearly at the 2006 U.S. Open when, with a one-stroke lead, he sliced his drive into a hospitality tent on the 72nd hole en route to a closing double-bogey. This year, he was dead straight by Mickelson standards, hitting the highest percentage of fairways since 2004 and -- no surprise -- the highest percentage of greens since 2006. And his 116.3 mph average swing speed still beat more than 100 Tour players.
Find your driver and swing smoother
If you're higher than a single-digit handicap, your driver should feature at least 10.5 degrees of loft -- end of discussion. To put this extra loft to use, make sure you smoothly shift your hips toward the target as you start your downswing, then rotate them out of the way as you near impact, just as Phil does with Phrankenwood. Don't hang back over your right foot! Trust the club's loft and swing all the way through.
HIT A FASTBALL
Nix your "hang-back" for a smoother swing and straighter drives.
1. Address a teed ball as you normally would, then move your left foot toward your right so that your feet touch. Swing to the top.
2. As you start down, step forward with your left foot and plant it into the ground in its standard address position, as though you're hitting a waist-high fastball.
3. The step helps get your hips and weight correctly moving toward the target at the start of your downswing. Rotate through the ball, then watch it fly high, deep and straight.
Not since 2004 -- when he finally won his first major, at Augusta -- has Phil Mickelson given us a better season than the body of work he put together in 2013. Not only did he come within an eyelash of shooting 59 en route to winning in Phoenix, he also rebounded from yet another U.S. Open heart-break [on his 43rd birthday, no less] to win back-to-back events in Scotland, including the British Open. That Sunday at Muirfield, after 70 conservative holes, he unleashed classic, go-for-broke Lefty with a birdie-birdie finish.
At an age when most players start to sputter, how did Mickelson play some of the best golf of his Hall of Fame career? He adapted. By making small adjustments to his long game and putting while staying true to the fundamentals that made him a winner, Mickelson eliminated many of the mistakes that have thwarted his talent. Try his new tee-to-green scoring secrets, and you too can enjoy a season for the ages.