SINGAPORE (AP) — Phil Mickelson didn’t waste any time making a few tweaks to his swing after losing second place to Sergio Garcia in the world rankings.
Mickelson said he got a refresher course from swing coach Butch Harmon before heading to Sentosa Golf Club for the $5 million Singapore Open, an Asian Tour event that starts Thursday on an island just off the Singapore coast.
“I was just on the phone with him before we got here, just making little tweaks because driving the ball here in Sentosa is a real test,” Mickelson said. “There are tight fairways, a lot of water, a lot of penalties for poorly struck shots.”
Garcia won the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai on Monday, moving the Spaniard past Mickelson and into second place behind Tiger Woods in the world rankings.
A couple of swing adjustments aren’t the only thing Mickelson is bringing to Singapore. He’ll also have along a new putter when he challenges a field that includes the likes of Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, and K.J. Choi for the tournament’s $792,500 top prize.
“I brought a putter with a little bit more loft,” Mickelson said. “The greens are very difficult and grainy. That will be the biggest challenge.”
Harrington, who won the British Open and PGA Championship this year, will be finishing his impressive season in Singapore and said he wants “just to put the icing on the cake for my Christmas.”
Argentina’s Angel Cabrera is the defending champion, while Australia’s Adam Scott won the tournament in 2005 and 2006.
“I’m certainly looking to turn my game around a little bit and it’s good to have the positive feelings,” Scott said. “My goal is to win this week.”
Els has had mixed results in Singapore. He played well in 2006 but lost out in a playoff to Scott, then played poorly last year and missed the cut.
“Although to be fair, I was suffering sickness in the first round,” the three-time major winner said. “I’ve played quite a few tournaments in Asia and, believe me, this is the best.”
The event’s big purse and lineup of most of golf’s best top players – including 18 of the top 20 on the Asian Tour money list and many stars from Europe and America – amazed South Korea’s Choi, who remembered the sport’s humble beginnings in Asia.
“I never really imagined something like this would happen, that a $5 million tournament would be held in Asia,” Choi said. “It’s a big step forward.”