x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Phil Mickelson has his confidence back in time for US Open

The course at Olympic does not suit his game, but that has not stopped Lefty from coming to the US Open as confident as ever.

Phil Mickelson taks the time to sign autographs after his practice round for the US Open Championship. Mickelson will be paired with Tiger Woods and Masters winner Bubba Watson on Thursday and Friday.
Phil Mickelson taks the time to sign autographs after his practice round for the US Open Championship. Mickelson will be paired with Tiger Woods and Masters winner Bubba Watson on Thursday and Friday.

SAN FRANCISCO // Phil Mickelson decided not to leave his driver at home for the US Open this time.

But he might just leave it in the bag.

"I'm not going to take the driver out of my bag entirely like I tried at one Open," Mickelson said. "There are a couple of holes that you can hit driver, but very few."

For a player who has never won a US Open, Mickelson still has not lost his sense of humour, as he was poking fun at himself for his infamous decision not to bring a driver to Torrey Pines in 2008.

This year, Olympic's Lake Course is considered short by most US Open standards - but with narrow fairways and small greens - so perhaps Mickelson might get away with irons and hybrids all week.

Then again, this is the one time of year that has never been kind to Mickelson's game, no matter what the course. Five times he has finished as the US Open runner-up.

Mickelson is paired with Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson, the Masters champion, in the first two rounds beginning on Thursday.

It will be the first time Woods and Mickelson have been paired in the US Open since the practice of grouping players off the world ranking began in 2008.

"It's fabulous," Mickelson said.

"First of all, I get excited to play with Tiger, I love it. I think we all do. He gets the best out of me. I think when it's time to tee off I'll be ready to play. One of the issues I've had this year [is] I've been a little mentally lethargic on Thursday and Friday. I won't be this week.

"Second is the one player I'm most concerned about if I play my best golf that may have a chance to beat me is Tiger ...

"Sometimes we'll get a huge advantage in tee times, based on weather conditions or whatnot. If we're in the same wavelength, neither of us will have a distinct advantage."

The two last played together in the final round this year at Pebble Beach, which just so happened to be Mickelson's last victory.

The rest of his season has been rather ordinary.

But standing alongside Woods and Watson when the group tees off on No 10 this morning should provide all the motivation Mickelson needs.

"I think it helps me because this is a tournament where, if you look at my game from 20,000 feet, you'd say, 'Well, that's probably not the best set-up for the way he likes to play'," Mickelson said.

"And yet five times I've had opportunities, I've come close. Could have, should have won a few of those.

"And it gives me the belief that I can compete and be in contention on Sunday in this tournament."

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