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Phil Mickelson never stops learning his craft

Phil Mickelson of the US hits his tee

Phil Mickelson of the US hits his tee shot on the twelfth hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, NJ, July 29, 2016. Credit: EPA / TANNEN MAURY

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Phil Mickelson’s education still is ongoing, even now that he is 46, has won five major championships and has a daughter who is looking at colleges.

He learned, or re-learned, this week that you just can’t try too hard. “I was shooting a lot of low scores this last week or two — not just at the British — and I really thought I was going to light it up. I put a little too much pressure on myself and forced it a little bit,” he said after shooting 2-under-par 68 in the third round of the PGA Championship, before storms halted play.

Mickelson also learned, or re-learned, that conditions can change in a hurry. During his news conference Tuesday, he said that no one could shoot a major-championships record 62 here at Baltusrol this week — which he almost had done at Troon two weeks ago. But he revised that opinion Saturday. “I think there’s a 61 or a 62 out there,” he said.

“The rain has taken a lot of the fire, the speed, out of the greens and it has also softened the fairways. So you’re going to hit a lot of fairways. And the ability to hit 6-, 7-, 8-irons at the pin and have the ball stop in its divot has taken away the challenge of the greens,” he said. “The challenge of the greens is how much contour is on them and the ball is always running away from the hole. But when you’re able to fly right at the hole and stop it, all that is negated.”

His confidence is better than it has been in the past two or three years, he said, when he did not have control over his swing and his putting stroke was not strong. After the first two days of the tournament, he rediscovered the need to swing and think freely and not get too impatient.

A usual New York-area chorus of encouraging cheers followed him all the way around as he finished the day 1 under for the tournament. The throng did not include his children, though. They were in Manhattan on a museum tour spearheaded by his daughter Amanda, who has inherited her dad’s inquisitive nature.

She is an intern at a San Diego-area museum this summer and was looking to do some translation from a book written in Egyptian, her mother, Amy, said. Amanda has started to go on college visits. Phil estimates she has seen 20 schools, including a few in New York. “It’s actually been a very educational experience,” he said. “I guess there are just a lot of great places to go and the key is finding the right fit for each individual.”


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