With the playoffs for the 2011 FedEx Cup just around the corner, perhaps we should take a look back on the 2011 season. Even though it is definitely still too early for a comprehensive season review, looking back should shed some light on what Phil Mickelson could do to prepare for the upcoming 4-event playoff format. Winning the FedEx Cup would surely make this a grand season for Phil!
In several ways the season has been a good one. After all Phil has earned over $3.3 million (ranked 7th). He has one victory (the Shell Houston Open), and he tied for 2nd at the British Open. Phil currently sits in 6th place in the World Golf Rankings. These statistics would certainly make the majority of PGA touring players very happy.
But for Phil - and the high standard he has set for himself (along with his fans) - the 2011 season seems to have come up a little short! For a world-class professional such as Mickelson, the money earned certainly is secondary to winning. As a fan, I was very hopeful that Phil would have a breakout year – considering that his primary nemesis – Tiger Woods, has either been injured, or quite honestly has played very poorly.
Instead Phil has managed - or perhaps mismanaged - his way through all four majors without a win. There have been times when he had opportunities: In the British Open Championship Phil started round four with a significant charge! He actually tied for the lead with Darren Clarke after Phil finished the 10th hole. But, like so many times over the years, Phil faded as the back nine unfolded.
In all four majors it seemed like whenever Phil started to climb up the leader board, he would make major mistakes. I don’t know how many double-bogeys Phil recorded in the four major tournaments this year, but it seemed like a lot!
Taking a positive approach, Phil Mickelson does have a short time to prepare for the FedEx Cup series. Currently Ranked 5th in FedEx Cup points, Lefty has a good opportunity to play well and win his first ever FedEx Cup. In order for that to happen, a simple look at the year-long statistics can provide some help to Phil in regards to his preparation: We all know that Phil can hit it a long way. He has averaged 300.1 yards per drive (ranked 22nd in this category). However, in driving accuracy Phil ranks 180th (hitting only 52.8% of the fairways this year). Clearly, Phil should spend considerable time working with his driver.
In Phil Mickelson’s younger days, he was known as a very good putter – who would occasionally miss a few short puts. During the 2011 season, Phil has become an average putter (ranking 73rd in Strokes Gained Putting). He has kept true to his reputation, and has missed quite a few short puts. When you are an excellent putter like Phil was early on, you can afford to miss a few short ones. However, when you are an average putter like Phil has been in 2011, you just can’t afford to miss short puts!
In other words, I believe that Phil only needs to take two clubs to the practice range the next few days; the driver and the putter! Making a few improvements with these two clubs could result in a strong showing in the playoffs for Phil! Winning the FedEx Cup could make all the difference for Phil in this challenging 2011 season!