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Phil Mickelson
Some extra work on his short game has Phil Mickelson happy with the state of his game. (Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Able to focus again on golf, Mickelson has high hopes for Hazeltine

Phil Mickelson feels like he's ready for the PGA Championship because he's regained the touch around the greens that abandoned him last weekend, and because he's feeling about his wife Amy's health..

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

CHASKA, Minn. -- Phil Mickelson would be the first to tell you his performance at last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational was not what he had hoped.

Despite limited practice time while his wife and mother both underwent surgery for breast cancer, he’d come to Firestone Country Club playing well. So the tie for 58th and that 8-over weekend was a disappointment.

At the same time, though, Mickelson feels he’s better prepared for the 91st PGA Championship that begins Thursday at Hazeltine National because of the way he played last week.  

“I felt I had a really good week last week even though didn't play well or score the way I wanted to,” Mickelson said. “I was able to identify what I needed to work on and address those these last couple of days, and I feel much better about my game heading into this week than, say, even the U.S. Open (where he tied for second).
   
“So I'm excited to get this tournament going.”

Mickelson flew home to California on Sunday afternoon to see his wife Amy and their three tow-headed children. He arrived in Minnesota on Tuesday evening and played 18 holes Wednesday with his instructor, Butch Harmon, walking alongside him.
 
“I feel like my short game was not good during last week,” Mickelson said. “I feel like it's much better (now).  I've been able to focus on it and spend time getting my touch back.”

His swing is grooved, too, after the extended inspection by Harmon’s practiced eyes. “The setup is correct and the path and everything is where we want it,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson, a three-time major champion, skipped the Open Championship last month in the aftermath of Amy’s July 1 surgery. But he finished fifth at the Masters and was runner-up in an emotional U.S. Open a month after the couple announced her diagnosis.

“It's been an interesting year, and we've had some highs and lows,” Mickelson said. “And I think that we'll have some more highs and lows for the next year or two.  I think in the end, everything's going to be fine. 

“But right now I think things are day to day for us.  That's both golf and not golf.”

Mickelson, who won the 2005 PGA, said he’s excited about playing again.  He normally plays well on the West Coast -- and had two wins this year by mid-March -- because he’s fresh. He has similar feelings now.

“I'm working hard on my game because I'm excited to get back into it,” he said. “I feel much the same heading into the PGA and heading into the FedExCup.  I feel that same excitement to be able to get back to playing. 

“I feel a sense of relief knowing that long term, both my mom and Amy are going to be fine, and I'm excited about working on my golf game and trying to compete here these next few weeks.”

Mickelson plans to play The Barclays, which is the first event of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, and said Wednesday there’s a “good chance” he’ll be able to play in the others. The Presidents Cup is also on his radar screen -- depending on what happens with his wife and mother.

“But there's still some procedures we have to do over the course of the next year that will be kind of off and on, and if it fits time line then I'll be able to play,” Mickelson said. “But if not I'm certainly not going to adjust medical procedures based on golf.  So we'll see how that plays out.”

Right now, though, the priority is the PGA Championship and seeing whether he can win the Wanamaker Trophy again.
 

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