SANDWICH, England — Amy Mickelson and the kids flew to Paris Tuesday morning to do some sightseeing, but a smiling Phil Mickelson made it clear that he’s having a blast right here at Royal St. George’s.
“I’m really enjoying the golf course; I’m excited about the way it’s playing,” he said.
Even before his press conference started on Tuesday afternoon, Mickelson seemed especially upbeat, chatting with reporters about where they were playing golf while here to cover the 140th Open Championship.
The chipper attitude is a little surprising when you consider his Open record. The only time the 41-year-old Mickelson has finished in the top 10 at golf’s oldest major was seven years ago at Royal Troon. Last year at St. Andrews he finished tied for 48th.
“I’m entering this year with a fresh start,” he said. “I’m not going to worry about past performances. I’m going to try to learn and enjoy the challenge of links golf, and I’m having fun doing that.”
That means playing more low, running shots into the greens instead of Mickelson’s typically towering approaches. That means accepting that wind and damp air can make for a 210-yard drive on the 243-yard, par-3 11th hole and a 380-yard drive on the par-4, 426-yard 17th.
Improved attitude or not, If Phil wants to sip from the claret jug, he knows that he’s got to putt better than he has in previous Open Championships.
“The one area that I feel has held me back over the years has been my putting on the fescue-type greens,” he said. “I had a good week last week [at the Scottish Open] in that I started to putt better on these greens. I feel very confident heading into this Open Championship about the way I’m going to read and putt the greens.”
Mickelson said he didn’t play well Tuesday morning during his practice-round match, but the real action won’t start for him until 2:21 p.m. Thursday when he tees off with Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen, the defending champ.
Thankfully for Phil, his partner Tuesday morning, Jeff Overton, sank a long putt on the 18th hole to give them a win over Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.
Clearly his new-and-improved attitude about links golf is paying off already.