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Phil Mickelson: Is His Weekend Showing at Phoenix Open a Cause for Concern?

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 05:  Phil Mickelson reacts to the crowd on the 16th hole during the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 5, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Ron FurlongAnalyst IIFebruary 8, 2011

Some have predicted a monster year from the now 40-year-old Phil Mickelson.

A strong showing at Torrey Pines was apparently all it took for the Phil faithful to jump back on that old bandwagon.

Seemed a bit premature, to say the least. Mickelson is coming off what was undoubtedly his worst year on the PGA Tour in about a decade and a half—and this included, by the way, a win at the Masters, just to let you know how bad it got in toward the end of 2010.

Mickelson was erratic and inconsistent most of the year and seemed to get worse as the long golf season wore on. He capped a poor late summer of golf off with another disappointing Ryder Cup performance.

There was also the issue of the announcement last August by Phil that he was being treated for psoriatic arthritis, which may be one explanation of his declining play during the summer last year. The arthritis is said to be in check and no longer a factor.

So with one strong performance in San Diego, Phil, we are told, is ready to grab the golf world by the throat. He is ready to track down the three golfers ahead of him in the world rankings (Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods and Martin Kaymer.)

Of course, to do that, he'd have to take his hands off his own throat. Mickelson, no less than 13 times in 2010, had the chance to take over the No. 1 spot in golf from a struggling Tiger Woods. Mickelson went 0-for-13.

Consistent, if nothing else.

Is it fair to question the closing capabilities of a man who has won four majors (three Masters titles and one PGA Championship) and 38 PGA victories in all?

I think it is. This man has simply not closed the deal too many times when the stakes were high.

Take his major history. Yes, he has won four times. However, 12 times he has finished second or third. And his Ryder Cup play, when the stakes are as high as they can get, is the worst in United States history.

I think it may be a bit of wishful thinking from the Phil faithful to think he's ready to challenge the top of the golf world in 2011.

His performance over the weekend at the Phoenix Open may be a good indication of this. Mickelson was right in contention after the first two rounds, but faded quickly with back-to-back 71s to finish in a tie for 29th. This was against a relatively weak field that did not include any of the other top-10 players in the world.

Lefty will no doubt win a couple tournaments in 2011 and perhaps even don the green jacket for the fourth time, something he has proven he can do. But to expect Mickelson to win a couple majors and a half-dozen tournaments while rising  to the top of the golf world is simply not realistic.

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