CHICAGO, Ill. – So far, so good for Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson has won the TOUR Championship at East Lake twice (2000, 2009) but if he is to make it a third time he must first negotiate his way into the FedExCup top 30 at the BMW Championship.
With an opening 5-under 66 leaving him tied 10th and just four off the lead at Conway Farms the veteran has put himself inside the projected top 30.
Now he has to stay there.
Mickelson, who found form in Boston two weeks ago with a T6 finish, started 36th and now projects to 29th.
It’s been a frustrating year for the Hall-of-Famer who feels his form hasn’t translated to good scores.
“I don’t know if validation would be the word I would use. Certainly encouragement and it would be a real positive given the lack of results,” Mickelson said when asked if a berth at East Lake would validate his year.
“If you watch on the range and through the round it looks better than the score is. Now the score in the last five rounds have matched up. So, to make it into East Lake would be great.”
Mickelson, who suffers from arthritis, has recently revealed a tweak in his medications and how he deals with it have helped unclog his mental game.
The 47-year-old is able to focus more, particularly on the greens. He was 10th in strokes gained: putting in the opening round.
“I was able to get my energy back up, get my focus back up and I think going bogey-free it shows that I’m much more in tune with each shot and really only hit one or two tee shots that I wasn’t happy with and then from there was able to recover and play a good, solid round,” he explained.
“You have to be able to get connected to the hole (when putting) so that no matter how perfect the stroke is if you don’t tie in the speed with the line that you’ve chosen and get it connected to the hole you’re not going to make putts.
“And that’s one of the things I’ve really struggled with on the greens is getting connected to the hole.”