Why Phil Mickelson Lost the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion G.C.

Golf Sage - Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Phil Mickelson should wear a bridesmaid dress to play in next year's U.S. Open Golf Tournament, as he has enshrined himself as a 6-time, record-setting bridesmaid at the U.S. Open.  There are 3 reasons why Phil did not celebrate his 43rd birthday with the U.S. Open title:

1.  Phil did not drive the ball well enough--this is a continuing problem for Phil, as he swings the club shaft past parallel to the ground on his tee shots, then wonders why he cannot consistently control his drives and hit most of them in the short hairs.  He needs to swing the club shaft back just short of parallel or to parallel to hit his drives straighter.  [Notice that Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jason Day, Luke Donald, and Charl Schwartzel all swing their drivers' club shafts just short of parallel or to parallel to the ground].  

2.  Phil did not putt well enough.  He kept his head very still until well after impact, but he did not read the putts correctly on Sunday.  Phil putted well on Friday and Saturday when the greens were not as moist.  However, with the higher humidity on Sunday, and with the eventual rain that fell hard for a few holes, the greens were moist, then actually wet.  Phil missed most of his putts on Sunday to the high side of the hole, which means he was playing too much break.  On a humid day or when the greens are actually wet, the ball will not break as much or roll as much.  You need to play half the break that you read and stroke the ball a little firmer.  Phil would have won the tournament by several strokes if he had played a little less break than he read and stroked the ball a little firmer.  Most of his missed putts were to the high side and/or stroked sort of the hole.

3.  Phil did not think well enough.  On #13, the very short par-3, he took a divot with his wedge trying to play a shot from the putting surface, where the shot called for a clean pick of the ball.  The better play would have been to putt the ball, realizing he could only get to within about 4' of the hole due to the interference of the green's collar, but then just make the 4' putt.  On #14, where he missed the fairway, he tried to play safe on his second shot, but ended leaving his second shot in the rough.  He played from rough to rough.  If you are going to play safe, hit the ball into the fairway.

I believe Phil Mickelson will win a U.S. Open in his career, but he is going to have to shorten up his backswing a bit to achieve more consistent accuracy, learn to read putts better and adapt to specific weather conditions, and think a bit more strategically during his rounds.  "Phil the thrill" needs to become "Phil the bore," and he will win several more major tournaments before he turns 50 years old.
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