Phil Mickelson's Play at Quail Hollow Is Much-Needed After Masters Debacle

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVMay 4, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 04:  Phil Mickelson hits a tee shot on the 5th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club on May 4, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson will always have the reputation of being a golf great, but the public's image on his ability to compete with today's best golfers took a huge hit with a lowly performance at the 2013 Masters. However, Lefty is doing it all this weekend in the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow and is quickly erasing those memories.

Mickelson showed up big time Thursday with an opening-round score of 68, posting only one bogey on the day with five timely birdies. 

Though, despite his efficiency Thursday, it was his second-round score of 67 that created the most buzz as Lefty entered weekend play at nine-under and with the outright lead. Friday, Mickelson also only bogeyed once. 

After yet again tweaking his driver, Mickelson seems to have finally found the variation of the Phrankenwood driver that best suits his game. 

In what Golf Channel has dubbed the "Son of Phrankenwood," a club similar to the 3-wood, Lefty said he's feeling great about the newest tool in his arsenal.

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“Taking that technology and putting it in the driver has kept the center of gravity up by the face. It’s made it easier to hit. I’m hitting the ball as long and straight with the driver as I ever have.”

“At the Masters, I drove it great,” he said. “My distance was back up there, my accuracy was back up there. I expect to drive it extremely well for the rest of the year.”

Mickelson has been big on his talk of what clubs he's using, but that didn't exactly translate to success at the Masters, where he shot a 77 and 76 in back-to-back rounds and couldn't keep it on the fairway. However, it seems to be paying off thus far in Quail Hollow.

In typical Mickelson fashion, it's not the driving success that has him cruising atop the leaderboards. It's his short game.

Heading into the weekend, Lefty was money from inside 10 feet, according to ESPN Stats & Info

He was also the only golfer to hit every one of his putts within 10 feet through the first two rounds. Given the struggles he had on Augusta National's tricky greens at the Masters and hearing plenty of criticism for it, this showing of short-game prowess has to be a relief to Mickelson's biggest fans. 

Heading into this weekend's PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow, it was expected to be a tough tournament for every golfer with subpar course conditions and rough weather. But thanks to Mickelson and a heap of contenders, we've seen a great tournament break out. 

Mickelson's love for the game is contagious and tends to rub off on those he's playing with. Even after shooting a back-nine 40 at the Masters last month, he was all smiles and opened up to the media with a rant on how beautiful a day at Augusta National is (h/t Washington Times). 

Whether you're a fan of Mickelson's or not, you cannot deny the amount of energy and exuberance he brings to the game on a round-by-round basis. And when he's going through a slump, the tournament he's playing in suffers in general. 

That's why this weekend's showing so far at Quail Hollow is a relief for not only Mickelson, but fans of the game of golf. 

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