Hard work on putting and driving leaves Lefty primed
Published 17/01/2013 | 05:00
Phil Mickelson believes his putting and driving could be better than ever this year as he heads into the Humana Challenge at La Quinta in California.
The 42-year-old, whose 40 PGA Tour titles include a remarkable 18 in the early season West Coast swing, is in confident mood after working on his game during the winter break.
He said: "I've made a couple of really big breakthroughs with putting and driving and this could be my best putting and driving year."
While sticking to the claw grip on the greens he has used for the past four months, Mickelson has a new putter in the bag and added: "It's helped me not be so technical at address.
"I've been lining up more naturally and hitting more solid putts than I think I ever have in the last few months."
The world No 19, battling flu symptoms for more than a week, is starting a run of five successive tournaments.
His last victory was at Pebble Beach last February – a memorable one in which he went head-to-head with Tiger Woods and beat him by a massive 11 shots – but then came a mid-season slump.
Mickelson (below) looked to be back near his best at the Ryder Cup, however, and was runner-up to Ian Poulter at the HSBC Champions in China.
"Going through that three or four-month stretch of very poor play forced me to go back and analyse what I was doing well," he added.
"Iron play always has been a strong point, but I was having to make two different swings with my driver and irons.
"It was a good stretch for me to go through. My game got better each week all the way through the Ryder Cup and the HSBC Champions."
England's David Lynn and Ross Fisher both play their first events as PGA Tour members this week.
Humana Challenge, Live, Sky Sports 3, 8.0