Phil Mickselson: Is Lefty's Glass Half Full or Half Empty Heading into TPC?

Mike DudurichContributor IMay 5, 2013

It was another rainy day Sunday for Phil Mickelson.
It was another rainy day Sunday for Phil Mickelson.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

If Phil Mickelson were an author, he'd most likely be Stephen King.

Mystery, suspense, strange twists and turns are all important parts of each man's existence, and Mickelson showed that once again Sunday afternoon.

In the soggy final round of the Wells Fargo Championship, Mickelson showed us why it's so difficult to peg him as a contender in this week's Players Championship or as just another guy who once was a constant threat but who is now just a pretender.

This is a man who was won 40 times on the PGA Tour in his World Golf Hall of Fame career. He's won four majors and has earned over $69 million.

He admitted to being down after Sunday's disappointing third-place finish, but he'll fly down to Ponte Vedra Beach and tell everyone how good he feels about his chances at the TPC Sawgrass.

I'm not buying.

"I felt like I was in control, and I let it slip away there the last few holes, so it was disappointing," Mickelson said (via AP, h/t

If this were a one-time thing, that's one thing. But the big left-hander has gotten to the point where his struggles are outnumbering his good performances.

While you never know for sure what you're going to get when Mickelson tees it up, it's become more and more clear that the days of Mickelson being feared as a dominant player may be coming to an end.

Consistency has never been a hallmark of Mickelson's career, everyone knows that. This year, the only consistency he's had was his inability to play good golf. He won once at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and had two other top-10 finishes. That was the good news.

The bad news? His other finishes: tie for 37th, tie for 51st, tie for 60th, and tie for 21st, missed cut, tie for 16th, tie for 54th.

Hardly Mickelson-like results, even though he's earned over $2 million.

His downfall this week was Quail Hollow's Green Mile, the final three holes. He was three over par on those three tough holes. And his driver was also a big problem as he hit only 26 of 56 fairways (53rd in the tournament)—and some of those left him in really, really difficult positions.

And this was a tournament he really wants to win. It's a first-class event, normally populated with a first-class field, but he couldn't get it done.

He had a one-shot lead after 14, but Mickelson couldn't make a 12-foot birdie putt on the 15, and then he missed a six-footer for par on 16 and three-putted from long distance on 17. He had a chance to get into the playoff with Derek Ernst and David Lynn but missed a 25-foot birdie chance.

"I'm pretty bummed out," Mickelson said."If I could have gotten that bunker shot up-and-down on 15, I would have had a two-shot lead heading into those last three holes, which I know are difficult holes, so it would have been nice to have that."

Having said all that, where is Mickelson on the eve of the fifth-biggest tournament of the year, the Players Championship? Mark me down for: nowhere.

Even a man as talented as Mickelson, a man who has great attachment to Augusta National Golf Club and has such great respect for the big events on the PGA Tour, sometimes run out of ammo.

This isn't to say Mickelson is at the end of the line. He can occasionally string together good rounds, like he did in dominating at Phoenix.

He's never stood over a shot he didn't believe he couldn't pull off, regardless of the difficulty or the level of riskiness.

But as he arrives at Pete Dye's most penal creation, he arrives as a guy whose glass is half full. Playing as erratically as he is won't serve him well on a course on which he hasn't finished in the top 20 since he won the Players Championship in 2007.

Bottom line: I don't like his chances of doing any better this year.