Swing Sequence: Phil Mickelson

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Swing Sequence: Phil Mickelson

July 13, 2008

Age: 34Height: 6-feet-2Weight: 190Driver: Callaway Big Bertha Fusion prototype, 9 degrees loftBall: Callaway HX Tour 56 prototypeClubhead speed: 120 mphBall speed: 178 mphAverage driving distance: 299.1 yardsI've really improved how I prepare for a season, and a big part of that preparation has been understanding what gives me my best chance to play well. It doesn't happen for me when I'm forcing things -- trying to make a bunch of birdies. Winning at Augusta happened because I relaxed and let my game take care of itself. I played the last seven holes of the tournament five under, and it felt like the game was going in slow motion.The 59 I shot at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in November at Poipu Bay was another payoff for the change in mind-set. I wasn't very sharp off the tee, but I stayed relaxed. When I got to the greens, I could see the putting lines unbelievably well. All of a sudden, I'm standing on the 18th tee thinking about making eagle on the par 5 to shoot 58.This year, I'm even more excited. My second-round 60 on the way to winning the FBR Open was a great feeling. Going back to Augusta as the defending champion will be an incredible thrill, and I can't wait to play in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where I finished second in 1999. I feel like I was five shots away from having a truly exceptional season last year. I'm looking forward to putting myself in that position again.Age: 34Height: 6-feet-2Weight: 190Driver: Callaway Big Bertha Fusion prototype, 9 degrees loftBall: Callaway HX Tour 56 prototypeClubhead speed: 120 mphBall speed: 178 mphAverage driving distance: 299.1 yardsI've really improved how I prepare for a season, and a big part of that preparation has been understanding what gives me my best chance to play well. It doesn't happen for me when I'm forcing things -- trying to make a bunch of birdies. Winning at Augusta happened because I relaxed and let my game take care of itself. I played the last seven holes of the tournament five under, and it felt like the game was going in slow motion.The 59 I shot at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in November at Poipu Bay was another payoff for the change in mind-set. I wasn't very sharp off the tee, but I stayed relaxed. When I got to the greens, I could see the putting lines unbelievably well. All of a sudden, I'm standing on the 18th tee thinking about making eagle on the par 5 to shoot 58.This year, I'm even more excited. My second-round 60 on the way to winning the FBR Open was a great feeling. Going back to Augusta as the defending champion will be an incredible thrill, and I can't wait to play in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where I finished second in 1999. I feel like I was five shots away from having a truly exceptional season last year. I'm looking forward to putting myself in that position again.

Learn from a LeftyMickelson's swing is a model for all playersPeople always ask me if I have to make adjustments when working with Phil because he swings from the left side. Actually, the opposite is true -- I'll turn other players' swings over to compare them to Phil's because he's in such good positions. Things like his grip might look exaggerated to the right-hander, but that's only because you aren't used to seeing it. Phil's swing is textbook -- just flipped.The one thing I've always loved is how free-flowing Phil is through the ball. He has tremendous, smooth acceleration in his swing, something he's always had. It's because he's mastered the three important power-producing principles. Look at the second and third pictures on the top row below and you can see the first one: Phil has a very wide arc. His hands and the club are away from his body, not cramped too close.Second, he makes a complete wrist cock in the backswing. That's a swing lever that many average players don't take advantage of. Third, he really moves his body well during his swing. He makes a great shoulder turn on the backswing, and swings his rear shoulder (left for him, right for right-handers) down and through the ball. That great body motion is what makes his swing so free-flowing and fast.But what if you aren't flexible enough to turn your shoulders like Phil? Don't worry -- not many people are. You can still make a bigger shoulder turn. Start by closing your stance slightly. This promotes more hip turn, which allows the shoulders to turn more as well.Just be sure to turn your right hip away from the target line when you shift your weight on the backswing. Many players slide the hips down the target line instead. That locks you up, and you can't generate any speed.Combine that increased hip and shoulder turn with a wider arc and full wrist cock at the top of the backswing, and you'll be hitting your longest drives.Rick Smith is based at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Mich., and Tiburón in Naples. In addition to Mickelson, Smith works with Lee Janzen, Rocco Mediate, Jerry Kelly and other PGA Tour players.Learn from a LeftyMickelson's swing is a model for all playersPeople always ask me if I have to make adjustments when working with Phil because he swings from the left side. Actually, the opposite is true -- I'll turn other players' swings over to compare them to Phil's because he's in such good positions. Things like his grip might look exaggerated to the right-hander, but that's only because you aren't used to seeing it. Phil's swing is textbook -- just flipped.The one thing I've always loved is how free-flowing Phil is through the ball. He has tremendous, smooth acceleration in his swing, something he's always had. It's because he's mastered the three important power-producing principles. Look at the second and third pictures on the top row below and you can see the first one: Phil has a very wide arc. His hands and the club are away from his body, not cramped too close.Second, he makes a complete wrist cock in the backswing. That's a swing lever that many average players don't take advantage of. Third, he really moves his body well during his swing. He makes a great shoulder turn on the backswing, and swings his rear shoulder (left for him, right for right-handers) down and through the ball. That great body motion is what makes his swing so free-flowing and fast.But what if you aren't flexible enough to turn your shoulders like Phil? Don't worry -- not many people are. You can still make a bigger shoulder turn. Start by closing your stance slightly. This promotes more hip turn, which allows the shoulders to turn more as well.Just be sure to turn your right hip away from the target line when you shift your weight on the backswing. Many players slide the hips down the target line instead. That locks you up, and you can't generate any speed.Combine that increased hip and shoulder turn with a wider arc and full wrist cock at the top of the backswing, and you'll be hitting your longest drives.Rick Smith is based at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Mich., and Tiburón in Naples. In addition to Mickelson, Smith works with Lee Janzen, Rocco Mediate, Jerry Kelly and other PGA Tour players.

When Phil hits his driver, his wrists start to cock later in the backswing. As his wrists cock, in the third frame, his right shoulder works behind the ball. If you cock your wrists too soon or whip the club behind you, the lead shoulder doesn't get behind the ball, and you can't complete your turn. By the fourth frame, Phil has made a full turn, and his wrists have completely cocked.When Phil hits his driver, his wrists start to cock later in the backswing. As his wrists cock, in the third frame, his right shoulder works behind the ball. If you cock your wrists too soon or whip the club behind you, the lead shoulder doesn't get behind the ball, and you can't complete your turn. By the fourth frame, Phil has made a full turn, and his wrists have completely cocked.

Phil's club is across the line, but it's because he's made a huge turn and has a full wrist cock. The face is in perfect position. Notice the triangle in his arms, which shows that there's ample space to make a full, fast downswing. This is a common position for all great players.Phil's club is across the line, but it's because he's made a huge turn and has a full wrist cock. The face is in perfect position. Notice the triangle in his arms, which shows that there's ample space to make a full, fast downswing. This is a common position for all great players.

See how well the ball is elevating? If you're using a driver with the proper loft, you won't have to help the ball up with the body or by flipping the hands.See how well the ball is elevating? If you're using a driver with the proper loft, you won't have to help the ball up with the body or by flipping the hands.

That old advice about driving your legs through impact just isn't right anymore. Notice how centered Phil is through impact. Driving your legs here makes you lose your balance, and the bottom of the arc isn't consistent.That old advice about driving your legs through impact just isn't right anymore. Notice how centered Phil is through impact. Driving your legs here makes you lose your balance, and the bottom of the arc isn't consistent.

Phil's rear shoulder works down and through to a great finish. Average players think "spine angle" and hold their posture, but they don't get that trailing shoulder moving strongly through impact.Phil's rear shoulder works down and through to a great finish. Average players think "spine angle" and hold their posture, but they don't get that trailing shoulder moving strongly through impact.

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