FedEx Cup Standings 2012: Why Phil Mickelson Will Challenge Rory McIlroy

Matt WestCorrespondent IISeptember 12, 2012

CARMEL, IN - SEPTEMBER 09:  Phil Mickelson and his caddie Jim Mackay (L) look on from the 15th hole fairway during the final round of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club on September 9, 2012 in Carmel, Indiana.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson has been a spectator for most of the summer, having won only one PGA tournament all year. That tournament, incidentally, was way back in February at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he hauled in a $1.1 million purse.

Now, with the final tournament of the PGA season approaching and the top five players in the standings solidified, Phil is playing some of his best golf of the year, and will challenge top dog Rory McIlroy for the season crown.

Phil has had top-five finishes in the last two playoff tournaments (Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship), and is striking the ball with a purpose.

He also seems to understand how the point system works, and with a top-five placement only has to win the tournament to be handed the FedEx Cup title.

Mickelson's performance at the BMW Championship last week showed he isn't going anywhere anytime soon. His final-round 64 was his best round since February, and the 10 birdies he sunk illuminated the fact that he can close out a round this year in impressive fashion.

His putting also looked markedly improved during the final round. He didn't miss a put within 10 feet, so any problems he may have showed earlier were gone.

Lefty's season hasn't been one filled with great performances and memorable shots, as he's had to watch McIlroy and Tiger play good, winning golf for parts of the year. But we've seen Mickelson struggle to win tournaments before, only to bounce back with a stellar performance in a big-time way (see: 2004 Masters, his first major tournament).

But in golf, it's important to watch the players catching fire. Yes, McIlroy is playing out of his mind, and Tiger, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker are all nipping at the young Irishman's heels.

Right now, Phil is rounding into form as the season closes, and I can't imagine him not being near the top of the leader board as the TOUR championship ultimately decides the FedEx Cup champion.