CROMWELL – Phil Mickelson, just a week after turning 50 years of age, entered the weekend as the 36-hole leader at the Travelers Championship.
But Mickelson, trying to win the event for the first time since becoming the only golfer to win it in back-to-back years in 2002, faded in the third round on Saturday, shooting a 71 before finishing Sunday at 11-under par for the tournament, completing a solid overall performance, but one that had potential to be particularly special following Friday’s action.
“[This] weekend I didn't score well,” Mickelson said. “I had a lot of penalty strokes [and] what have you. But it was a good week of progress. So I'm going to take this week off here [and] work on some things.”
Mickelson’s performance over the final two days at the Travelers came on the heels of a dynamic first two rounds, where he scored a 64 or lower both days, the first time in his career he accomplished that feat to begin an event. The end may have been disappointing, but Mickelson is focused more on the full body of work rather than recency.
“I'm looking at this week as progress,” Mickelson said. “Certainly, the goal is to win golf tournaments, but keep in mind I've missed a bunch of cuts. I haven't played to the level I've wanted to, and this week I came in and had a lot of great finds. I hit a lot of good shots, hit a lot of good tee shots. My misses were much better.
“There was a lot of good things that happened here that I need to refine, I need to touch up, but I felt like a lot of good things happened this week, and again, the goal is to win, but I also need to identify the fact that I made a lot of progress this week, too.”
It was a monumental week overall for Mickelson, posting one of the best 36-hole stretches of his career while turning 50 shortly before. For the lefty, the latter landmark is hardly an important one. His age is simply a number, while his score through the first two rounds of the Travelers is much more telling of what’s to come for the back nine of his career.
“I feel really good and I recover faster,” Mickelson said. “I've been able to practice, have been able to have good practice sessions, but more than that, I finally feel like I really have some good direction. This was a good week in a lot of areas, and I'm very optimistic going forward. I don't think this is a one-off. I think it's going to be the start of something really special, at least that's what I'm sensing.”