LAKE FOREST, ILLINOIS – Asked Thursday afternoon if he considered laying up from 260 yards out on the par-5 18th hole at Conway Farms in the first round of the BMW Championship, Phil Mickelson paused.
The perfect pause.
Then he cracked that Mickelson grin and said to his inquisitor, “Seriously?”
It was just a few days ago that a video went viral after Mickelson asked a youngster in his gallery at last week’s Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston if he should go for a par-5 green with his second shot. The youngster, as most of the golf world now knows, told Mickelson that if he could hit his 3-wood 260 yards, he’d fire away. Of course, Mickelson did and it all worked out.
It appears that Mickelson has saved his best for last as his 2017 season winds down, opening the BMW Championship with a bogey-free 66 that builds on four good rounds that earned him a T5 finish at the last playoff event.
If Mickelson can finish 13th or better at Conway Farms, he’ll advance to the Tour Championship in Atlanta next week and then it’s on to the Presidents Cup, where he’ll be at the center of everything for the American side.
Not bad for a guy who left the PGA Championship a month ago feeling tired and borderline lost.
“It’s fun to play a good, solid opening round and not feel like I’m having to play catch-up the whole time thereafter. It was fun to get a good day,” Mickelson said.
“I also feel that it was as high as I could have shot today given the number of birdie opportunities I had and how well I played. I did get away with one or two shots. Other than that, I struck the ball really well.
“It feels great to be able to have energy throughout the round and keep my focus up. I’m really excited with some simple changes I’ve made in the last month to get my game back.”
A recent visit with his doctor led to some changes that Mickelson said have given him more energy and sharpened his focus on the course, issues that were bothering him through the summer.
“I mean it’s only been five rounds but after Boston I feel the momentum is starting to kick in,” Mickelson said.
Better late than never.