Less is more for Mickelson vs. McIlroy, DeChambeau in Travelers

CROMWELL, Conn. – OK, he never claimed to be more powerful than a locomotive or possess the ability to jump high-rise buildings with one jump. But Phil Mickelson surely never refused to stand on the tee box and come face to face with anyone.

Often to their detriment.

But he was a young stud then. Today he is a cunning fox.

But after posting 7 under 63, his best score in a PGA TOUR tournament since he shot that same score in Round 4 of the Dell Technologies Championship in 2018, Mickelson is in a position to tie Walter Hagen for eighth place on the list. professional victories.

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That in itself is not a surprise. Mickelson remains a fiercely competitive force and as skilled as ever with the short iron game. The surprise is that he showed humility and good sense, a shot that he would have once discarded on the way to the first tee. But knowing that Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau were his competitors, Mickelson took a deep breath and rejected those voices.

“I made some progress in that I didn’t try to come face to face with two of the longest players in the game,” said Mickelson.

For example, the 442-yard, bomb-away, par-4 seventh. McIlroy ripped it 353, DeChambeau raffled it 359, but Phil threw it with a 3 wood. He made a birdie.

To the right of the dogleg, McIlroy (321) and DeChambeau (358) took it over the trees to lower it near the green. Mickelson carved another 3 wood around the bunkers and on the fairway, just 306. He made a little bird.

At par 5 13 and par 4 14, Mickelson played conservatively, again with 3 woods. Every shot found the fairway, every hole was birdie. Its competitors hit units across the map in those holes.

“There are some holes where I can open it up and put pressure on the driver,” said Mickelson. “But really, I just want to put it on the line.”

Knowing that those words coming out of his mouth were amazing, Mickelson acknowledges, “I know, it’s not like me.”

But he has never been 50 years old, he never had to reign, he never saw what DeChambeau has brought to the PGA TOUR in this reboot of the 2019-20 season.

“It’s hard for me.” It’s hard for anyone to imagine how direct it hits him as much as it hits him, “Mickelson said, shaking his head. Although he shot 67 – 132 and with 8 fewer he’s tied for the ninth, five shots behind, DeChambeau made that Mickelson shot out.

“I mean, it drove him to number 9. Are you kidding me?”

Observers may have said something to themselves, listening to Mickelson admit that he had backed down any challenge trying to match his competitors. But the left-hander said he learned the hardest way at the Genesis Invitational in Riviera than losing to the greats.

“I tried in Los Angeles to match him with Brooks (Koepka) and Bubba (Watson), and those guys are long,” said Mickelson. “I was trying to swing and ended up missing the cut. I ended up not playing well and I learned from that ”.