SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) — If you thought two weeks was enough time for Phil Mickelson to get over his second-place finish in the British Open duel with Henrik Stenson, guess again.
Lefty said it’s going to take a long time to get over the British Open, probably longer than any of his other excruciating losses in a major.
The hurt and disappointment wasn’t because Mickelson missed out on either his sixth major or his first win since the 2013 British Open. This was the first time the 46-year-old Mickelson played his best, and it wasn’t good enough.
The 40-year-old Stenson won his first major with a record-shattering 20-under total. Mickelson’s 267 final total would have won every previous British Open except in 1993, when Greg Norman shot 267 at Royal St. George’s.
“I think it’s one of those things where I’ll look back over time and my disappointment will probably increase, because I think it’s the first time in my career that I have played to that level of golf and not had it be enough to win a tournament,” Mickelson said at a practice to prepare for the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club. “That’s a disappointing thing because I would have loved to have added another claret jug.”
Jordan Spieth, who played a practice round with Michelson on Tuesday, walked over to his playing partner Tuesday and told him it was fun to watch him, and that he was unlucky not to win.
“And that’s when he said, ‘Hey, I’ve been on that side of things (lately), Masters in ’15, and Troon even more so two weeks ago,” Spieth said. “But then he’s seen himself on the other side of things where no one is running away with it and he wins in a close battle or he wins by a lot, whether it’s in a major or regular tour event.”
Mickelson believes he will win again. He feels his game is improving, his swing is back and he likes the course. He validated his first major – the 2004 Masters – by capturing the 2005 PGA here with a 72nd hole birdie.
His goal this week is to play as well as he did at Troon.
“I don’t believe that there is a small window,” Mickelson said of winning again. “I think there’s a really big window of opportunity to add to my resumé, to continue to compete in big events, for the simple reason that the feel and sensitivity of hitting shots; the ability to play golf courses a certain way, to visualize, to make birdies, to pull shots off, that has not diminished.”
Mickelson said the key at Baltusrol is to drive the ball straight and putt well on greens that have a lot of contours.
“There’s a lot of little rolls and knolls,” said Mickelson, noting the greens are going to roll a lot faster than Troon. “You can see multiple lines and only one of them is correct, and it’s sometimes hard to see.”
What many people would like to see would be another Mickelson-Stenson showdown.
Stenson said he has not had a chance to talk with Mickelson since the British Open.
“It’s one of those things, it doesn’t really strike you when you’re in the middle of it,” Stenson said “But afterward, with the 63 and the 20-under and the way we played, we pushed each other to the limit, both of us, for 36 holes more or less, and trading punches and blows all the way around the golf course for two days. That certainly is what made us play so well. We both wanted it badly and we performed so well because of each other.”