On Sunday, Phil Mickelson returned to social media after a brief hiatus, which he said was a byproduct of him not being pleased with his play of late and thus not wanting to be in the public eye. He then went on to explain how he had gone through a "hard reset," which entailed a six-day fasting period in which Mickelson lost 15 pounds drinking only water and the magical coffee creation that he swears by.
The drastic and immediate lifestyle change is one Mickelson hopes aids a bounce back of sorts. After winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and appearing poised for a strong year, the five-time major winner has missed six of his last 12 cuts, finishing inside the top 20 only once (T-18 at the Masters). Back at Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open, the prevailing thought was this was Lefty's last great chance at the career Grand Slam. At one under through 36 holes, he was somewhat in the mix, but promptly ejected on Saturday with a four-over 75, eventually finishing in a tie for 52nd. That was the only cut he's made in his last four starts.
Perhaps the "hard reset" could be exactly what Mickelson needs to snap out of this late-season funk, and the Open Championship always presents an opportunity for golf's old guard to contend for a late-career major. Mickelson won this event in stunning fashion at the age of 43 in 2013 at Muirfield, then nearly pulled it off again as a 46-year-old in 2016 at Royal Troon. It would be very Mickelsonian to conjure some magic this week at Royal Portrush.
But we wouldn't suggest running to the betting window and getting Mickelson at his current 110-1 odds, at least judging by the comments he made on Tuesday in Northern Ireland.
"I'm not happy with the way I've been on the course [and] off the course," he told Sky Sports News. "I'm not happy with my focus, my fitness, my nutrition, a lot of the things. So I am trying to change the things that I control. I'm certainly not happy with the way that I've been playing. I've got to start with just the things that I can control, and I don't have many expectations this week."
This doesn't sound like the same Mickelson who many refer to as "FIGJAM" (Google it) on social media. Though, as confident as Lefty often sounds, he also rarely kids himself, opting for blunt honesty about the state of his game.
"I'm here because I love playing. I love this tournament. I love playing links golf," Mickelson said. "I'm here to enjoy the challenge of the tournament and just kind of get back into the way I like to play, which is more of a swinging of the club and free style and not being so tight and controlling. So I'm really not worried about the result so much."
We'll find out just how freely Mickelson is swinging the club on Thursday at 7:52 a.m. local, 2:52 a.m. ET, when he tees it up in his 26th Open Championship alongside Ireland's Shane Lowry and South Africa's Branden Grace. If he can get some early momentum, much like he did in 2016, there's no reason he can't contend. But if he's erratic from the start, it's more than likely that he won't be around for the weekend.