Phil Mickelson Should Be Favorite to Win PGA Championship After British Open Win

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2013

GULLANE, SCOTLAND - JULY 21:  Phil Mickelson of the United States holds the Claret Jug after winning the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield on July 21, 2013 in Gullane, Scotland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson is officially the hottest golfer in the world, and after his thrilling victory at the 2013 British Open, he must be considered the favorite to win the PGA Championship on August 11.

Lefty won the Open Championship at Muirfield by three strokes over the field, posting an incredible round of 66 on Sunday to match Zach Johnson for the low round of the tournament. Johnson shot five under par in Round 1, however, while Mickelson was able to conjure up his magic when it counted. 

Even more remarkable than his final score, which was impressive enough by itself, was the way Mickelson got to it in the final round. Starting out the day five shots off the lead, he struggled to generate much positive momentum through the first 12 holes and was still one over par at that point.

But when he needed it the most, Mickelson's game flourished. 

Posting birdies on four of his final six holes, Lefty won the 2013 British Open in style, finishing the tournament at three under par—three strokes better than second-place finisher Henrik Stenson. 

When Mickelson is hot, nobody can match him shot for shot, which we clearly saw at Muirfield. 

This isn't a new development, either. Mickelson has been as hot as a cat on a tin roof in the middle of July for a while now. 

Days before winning the Open Championship, Lefty won the Scottish Open—his first career victory on a links course in the United Kingdom. 

Before that breakthrough win, Mickelson had gotten painfully close to winning three of his last five tournaments entered, finishing in third place at the Wells Fargo Championship, in second place at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and then in second place at the 2013 U.S. Open. 

The U.S. Open was particularly painful for Lefty, as he should have won the tournament but was let down by his putter, of all things, and bogeyed three of his final six holes. During the four rounds at Merion, Mickelson averaged 1.79 putts per green, which was below the field average.

Instead of pouting, however, Mickelson has charged back into the fray with a vengeance, and his putter has been working just fine, thank you. He finished in third place with 31 one-putts at the British Open and averaged 1.62 putts per hole. 

Winner of the 2005 PGA Championship, Mickelson deserves to be the favorite for this year's final major. Neither Tiger Woods nor any other golfer in the world can match his recent record of top finishes. 

Chances are, Woods will once again be the betting favorite to win the tournament, but my money's on Lefty to win his second major championship in 2013 at Oak Hill Country Club. 


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