The Summer of Phil

This won't count as incredible insight, considering that Phil Mickelson won at Colonial last week, but he may turn out to be the big story this summer instead of Tiger Woods. Sure, Woods says he's on schedule to return to play the U.S. Open, but if his knee hurt too much to play this week at Memorial, that doesn't sound like he's on schedule for the Open in two weeks while Phil will be going to San Diego with some momentum.It's one thing for Tiger to  be physically ready to play at Torrey Pines. It's another thing to be ready for tournament competition on an Open setup, which Tiger knows full well.Meanwhile, the spotlight falls on Phil, whose game is suddenly back in place after a cool spell with his putter. I was interested in something he said Wednesday here in the pressroom in Dublin, Ohio, at the Memorial Tournament. "I'm excited, I feel better than I've ever felt," he said. "I've had a full year with the swing changes with Butch Harmon. I expect a lot out of this summer."That's not the kind of idle boast you get from a top player. That's the kind of thing you say when you've got it and you know you've got it. Phil was at that same point a year ago before he hurt his wrist from over-practicing out of the hellishly deep rough at Oakmont, which ruined his summer. He said he'll be more cautious practicing those shots this time.And, oh yeah, Torrey Pines is something of a home game for Phil. He grew up in San Diego, and lives there now, so he has played Torrey a number of times. Even though it's been redesigned, he's got a feel and a comfort factor for the place that most tour players won't have. You can be sure he'll be scoping out Torrey frequently the week before the Open, getting all the course knowledge advantage he can get.I have to agree with Phil. It could be a big summer for him.
(Photo: Jay LaPrete/AP)

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by Kevin Cunningham