Mickelson ‘feels great,’ eyes rebound

While it appears that Tiger Woods might be sorting out some problems in his game, golf fans are wondering what’s going on with Phil Mickelson.

Despite their struggles they still are the best two players in the game, so it would be nice to see them on the leaderboard this week in Round 2 of the PGA Tour playoffs at the Deutsche Bank Championship — as they were a year ago when Lefty captured the Tour Championship.

Mickelson told reporters not long ago that his subpar play through the summer had to do with being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, but he added that he has it under control with medication.

However, his game has been anything but sharp, especially when he shot 72-74–146 and missed the cut last week in the Barclays.

Lefty is not one to make excuses, so it’s hard to tell if his physical condition is affecting his play or if this is simply another dry spell for a player who has run either very hot or very cold throughout his career.

"I’m disappointed," he told reporters after finishing with an ugly double bogey last week. "I’ll try to get this thing worked out over the next five or six days."

It seemed that Mickelson would unseat Woods atop the World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career when he captured the Masters and tied for second in the Quail Hollow Championship.

However, despite having nine tournaments in which to do so, it has not happened. The Barclays was his best chance yet, with 10 mathematical possibilities to take over the top spot, but he couldn’t even get to the weekend.

"I’ve been trying real hard to accomplish that," Mickelson told reporters when asked about being No. 1 before the tournament last week. "I just haven’t played well enough yet.

" … I feel like I’m playing much better golf. I’ve been working on my driver again trying to get that thing in play, and I think I’ve kind of come on to something there, adding a little bit more loft and just getting the ball in play."

Lefty was unable to get that straight once the tournament started, however. He hit only slightly more than 50 percent of the fairways, about where he is for the season. Not only that, he averaged 31.0 putts per round.

He claimed that the chance to be No. 1 is not getting in his way.

"I haven’t thought about it too much," said Mickelson, who has not finished in the top 10 in his last four tournaments on the PGA Tour, or since tying for fourth in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June.

"I’m trying to win. I’m trying to compete in tournaments, and I haven’t played that well the last couple of months. But, again, I feel like my game’s been coming around.

"I’ve been able to practice and work hard. I feel great. I’m looking forward to the next five weeks."

In addition to the medication to control his arthritis, Mickelson has made a drastic change in his diet. He has become a vegetarian and said it has not been that difficult.

Of course, he admitted that might change the next time he goes to a ballgame and the hot dog man comes around.

"It’s been surprisingly easy," he said. "I’ve been eating some good stuff. I feel good. And there’s a lot of things that I’m able to eat. I feel much better. But, again, my goal, my hope is that right now I feel great health-wise because I’ve been taking some medicine, some treatment.

"It feels like (the arthritis) has gone away. And after awhile there will be a point where I’ll stop taking medication and hopefully have it in remission. And I’m hoping that my diet will help keep it in remission and I won’t have to take medicine.

"So that’s why I’ve kind of made that change."

Perhaps it’s simply that Mickelson needs time for his game to come back around after making changes in his life that might be more dramatic than he realizes.

Lefty said early last week that he feels good about his game and is looking forward to the busy schedule ahead, with the Ryder Cup following the PGA Tour playoffs.

"I feel like my game’s actually in pretty good shape," said Mickelson, who often in the past seemingly has faded into the offseason after the PGA Championship. "I’m excited about playing some golf and excited about the FedEx Cup.

"I think everybody is not finding it difficult to get their games sharp and ready through the FedEx Cup. We’re excited about it because the season ends a lot earlier than it did before.

"But more importantly, I think, that the FedEx Cup has really kept the top players’ games sharp for our team events. And we’ve won the last three events, the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup, that we’ve competed in."

And Lefty knows better than anyone that it’s time for him to get his game sharp, too.