Phil Mickelson looks at himself differently these days.
Sure, there’s a bit of uncertainty in the grogginess of morning, when he wakes up wondering if that claret jug really belongs to him for a whole year.
Then — yep — there it is, his name engraved on the silver chalice.
For Lefty, it’s all gravy from this point on.
He feels complete.
“The British Open really changed some of my perception of myself as a player,” Mickelson said Tuesday after a practice round at Oak Hill in Pittsford, N.Y., for the final major of the year, the PGA Championship. “Had I won another green jacket, that would not have done the same thing as what winning the claret jug has done.”
On July 21, Mickelson had one of the greatest closing rounds in major championship history, a 5-under-par 66 at rock-hard Muirfield to claim golf’s oldest crown.
It was the leg of the career Grand Slam that always figured to elude him. His game was built for the target golf played in America, complete with an array of soaring drives and wondrous wedges.
But, over four days along the Scottish coast, Mickelson showed he could grind it out better than anyone on a tabletop of a course, imagining shots that go against everything he’s supposed to be about — then pulling them off.
“In my mind, it is an accomplishment in my career that makes me more of a complete player,” he said. “To finally have won that and break through and play some of my best golf ever in my final round, that kind of changes the way I view myself and my game, more so than just a major championship that I had already won.”
Mickelson has already won the PGA Championship, in 2005 at Baltusrol.
That’s not to say he doesn’t want to add a few more majors to a résumé that already ensures he’ll be remembered as one of the game’s greatest players.
The 43-year-old has never been this confident about his chances.
“I’m more motivated than ever to work hard to succeed, because I can taste some of my best golf coming out,” Mickelson said. “I can feel it.”
EVEN AT AGE 20, SPIETH NEEDS PLENTY OF REST
Jordan Spieth certainly is a lot more rested than in the last major he played.
Spieth won the John Deere Classic, and he was on a charter to Scotland for the British Open. That was his eighth tournament in nine weeks. He wound up withdrawing from the Canadian Open, and the surprise was that he withdrew from the World Golf Championship at Firestone.
“I didn’t expect to be in the World Golf Championship ahead of time,” Spieth said. “I’ll never skip one again. I was worn out, very tired. I didn’t feel like I had anything with me. I want to be 100 percent every tournament I play in.”
The decision to skip Firestone wasn’t to rest up for the PGA Championship, but for the final stretch. Spieth is at No. 15 in the FedExCup standings, meaning he is a lock for at least three playoff events, and could become the first player since Tiger Woods in 1996 to start a year with no status and make the Tour Championship.
True, the WGCs offer free money because there is no cut.
“But I’m not going to chase a free check,” said Spieth, who celebrated his 20th birthday the week after the British Open.
And there was one other factor. His caddie, Michael Greller of Tacoma, got married Saturday.
“He’s like family to me,” Spieth said. “So it was very important.”
US WOMEN’S AMATEUR
Central Kitsap High School product Erynne Lee advanced to match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur in Charleston, S.C., with her stroke-play total of 3-over 145 (75-70), 10 strokes behind medalist Yumi Matsubara of Japan.
Lee will face Doris Chen of Taiwan in the round of 64 at 7:20 a.m. (PDT) Wednesday.