MEXICO CITY – From Phil Mickelson’s rose-colored perspective, winning again is not a question of if. It’s a question of when.
That when could come Sunday at the WGC-Mexico Championship where Mickelson will be in the last grouping, starting the final round two strokes behind unlikely leader Shubhankar Sharma.
Mickelson shot a bogey-free 65 Saturday to work himself in position to seriously consider ending his victory drought which dates back to the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield. He also coming off three straight top-six finishes, rekindling some of the feelings that pushed Mickelson in his prime.
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“I’m finally starting to get it back. It’s been a while since that happen, but my game is back on plane, it’s starting to feel easy, I’m not making mistakes, I’m not making too many big mistakes. I had a bogey-free round today. I had one yesterday, one bogey yesterday,” Mickelson said.
“So I’m putting the ball in play better, my iron play’s back, my short game is back, I’ve been putting well, so overall I’ve been playing well and the scores are starting to reflect it. So I’ll get that W. I don’t know if it’s tomorrow, I don’t know when, but it will be soon, and when I do, I think I’ll start to peel off a few.”
In addition to the two-stroke deficit Mickelson will start with Sunday, there are eight other players within three strokes of Sharma’s lead including Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson with Justin Thomas four back after a course-record 62 Saturday.
But this, Mickelson insisted again Saturday afternoon, is the product of swing work he’s done with coach Andrew Getson which has made him more accurate off the tee, which is critical at Club de Golf Chapultepec with its narrow, tree-lined corridors.
It’s a layout that doesn’t tempt Mickelson to immediately pull the driver and take a rip. Instead, it forces players to play to particular sides of fairways, giving them angles into the smallish greens. With only a handful of exceptions, Mickelson has executed his game plan.
“This is the fourth week in a row for me that I’ve had an opportunity. I haven’t been leading, I’ve been having to chase a little bit so I need to improve and get a little bit better. But having that chance is what we play for and it’s why we play and it’s feeling those nerves that makes it so fun,” Mickelson said.
It will take another low number from Mickelson Sunday to pick up his 43rd PGA Tour victory but he sounds like a man feeling it.
Asked Saturday afternoon if he had another 65 in him, Mickelson said, “I believe so, I’m playing too well for it not to. Whether it’s enough tomorrow — I know I’m going to play well. I don’t know whether it will be enough or not, but there’s a good chance it will be.”