Phil Mickelson is suddenly a lot more realistic about the state of his game.
Mickelson has been saying all summer that he feels his game has been close, even though the results don't bear that out. Since his runner-up finish in Abu Dhabi to start the year, the five-time major champion has not registered a top 10. His best finish in a major this year was a tie for 23rd at the British Open.
Even after a 69 in the third round at the Bridgestone Invitational, Mickelson was hardly impressed.
"I thought I was closer than I am," he said. "My first two rounds showed me I'm not as close as I thought I was. Today was a good round, but still, conditions are easy. Good rounds in the mid-60s, and I'm barely getting under par."
Mickelson is No. 10 in the Ryder Cup standings, trailing Patrick Reed. And Reed was well ahead of him at Firestone.
Ryder Cup qualifying ends after the PGA Championship. Mickelson was the 36-hole leader at Valhalla in 1996 at the PGA. He played reasonably well in a U.S. victory at the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in 2008. He loves Jack Nicklaus designs.
But he suddenly wasn't as optimistic about his game. He is mostly bothered by his short irons, typically his strength. Is there enough time to fix that?
"It would be out of nowhere for me to play well," Mickelson said in another blunt assessment. "You just never know."
That much is true with Mickelson. He is as unpredictable as any golfer. In 2005, he won the BellSouth Classic in late March, and then didn't seriously contend in another tournament for more than four months. He showed up at Baltusrol and won the PGA Championship.