PGA Tour Confidential: Phil Mickelson wins Waste Management Phoenix Open

Phil Mickelson, 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open
Matt York / AP
Phil Mickelson won the Waste Management Phoenix Open by four shots for his 41st career PGA Tour title.

Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

BIG YEAR AHEAD FOR PHIL?
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: With Phil Mickelson's super performance in Phoenix he seemed determined to remind everyone that his expertise is in golf, not public policy. Phil's talent is unquestionable, but his motivation and focus come and go. Was this just a one-off or is Phil now on his way to a big year?

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: The new driver has re-energized Phil. We'll look back at the win in Phoenix as the start of something big.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: You can never count Phil in -- or out -- of anything. He's unpredictable. But this new driver looks more like a game-changer for him than a one-week blip. The Masters and a big course like the PGA Championship at Oak Hill are tailor-made for him if he's getting off the tee better. Big year for Phil, especially since I wasn't expecting it.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: Phil's now won 41 times on Tour, but you'd be hard-pressed to find as complete a victory as this one. Everything was clicking. He could be in for a great year, but there will probably be more bumps along the way, because after all, he's Phil. Ride the wave.

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Does this mean Phil's going to be a challenger for No. 1? No, he'll never be that consistent. But this does mean he's trending toward another run at a green jacket, and that's all that matters.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: This isn't coming out of nowhere. He played well in the FedEx Cup events last year and looked sharp at the Ryder Cup. No matter what the odds-makers say, the smart money will be on Mickelson at Augusta.

Shipnuck: After watching Keegan Bradley's super-straight driving at the Ryder Cup, Phil seemed to have found religion, vowing he'd stop swinging for the fences and play more from the fairway. If his tremendous ball control in Phoenix is indeed the manifestation of a more refined style of play than I think this could be the start of something big. With his iron game and play from 125 yards and in, he'll be very tough to beat playing consistently from the short grass.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: The only thing Phil's brilliant play tells us is that he is far from finished as a tour star. We've seen this before -- weeks of bland play followed by a streak that makes the golf gods yelp. Next week, who knows? But he's a joy to watch, a real gift to golf fans.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Phil will contend at the Masters. If he wins, he may go radio silent for the rest of year. If he loses, he may go radio silent for rest of the year.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I don't think we can say he's headed for a monster year, or we'd make the same mistake we made after he won Pebble last year. I think that inconsistency is here to stay. But I agree that he'll be a force at Augusta, every year for the next 10 or so.

Godich: 10? Seriously?

Morfit: Oh, yeah -- Augusta will be the last place where he's still able to contend.

Garrity: I can see it, assuming Phil's arthritis doesn't kick in. He's still got a full shoulder turn, there's no sign that he's starting to lose distance, and he's got the great short game. Plus he's more comfortable at Augusta National than he is at home with his accountant.

Bamberger: I agree. Jack had a similar build and a similar big swing and he played Augusta beautifully at age 56.

Godich: But for a guy battling arthritis, contending at Augusta at 52 seems to be a pretty big ask.

Stephanie Wei, WeiUnderPar.com: Forty-one wins. Think about it. That's pretty incredible and over a period overlapping with Tiger in his heyday. Who knows with Phil? This win reminds me of last year at Pebble. He looked confident and sharp that week and especially that Sunday, playing with Tiger. As impressive and dominant he was in Phoenix, Phil is not a young chap anymore. Can't see him maintaining this pace.

Godich: Phil would gladly slip on another green jacket, but I think the prize he covets most now is the U.S. Open.

Shipnuck: I think Merion is a great opportunity for Phil. Off the tee he can hit 3-irons and 3-woods all day and let the rest of his game carry him.

Morfit: That'd be the story of the year, especially since I don't immediately think Phil when I think Merion.

Bamberger: Merion would be an amazing, and unlikely, place for Phil to finally get his U.S. Open. He likes the big parks.

Van Sickle: Phil's iron play and great putting from mid-range -- the 10-to 20-foot range -- make him a U.S. Open contender if he can avoid big numbers.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Is Phil heading for a big year?

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