What a story this would be. The 46 year old American is atop the leaderboard by 1 shot in Scotland after round 2 of the 2016 British Open, the 3rd major of the calendar year. No mincing words, Phil Mickelson has not been himself these past few seasons. In fact his last win took place in the 2013 PGA Tour season. In which tournament? The British Open. Phil Mickelson always thought that the British Open would be the major he would never be able to win, citing that the ball flight of his would not work on a links style golf course. Well, it’s worked before and it’s working again. Mistake to doubt.
The first round was an absolute doozy. 1 in 100 will you get a day as picturesque at Royal Troon Golf Club as they did on Thursday. The wind was calm, barely touching 7 or 8 MPH. Scoring was there, but I don’t think anyone could have expected what Phil Mickelson was going to do. He got through the front 9 with 4 birdies (on 2, 4, 6 and 8), but that was the easier part of the golf course. Well, he did the same on the back 9 with birdies at 10, 14, 16 and 17 with an incredibly unlucky lip out on the last hole. If he would have holed this putt, he would have set the record for best round in a major with a 62!
With the weather looking dicey for Friday, I texted my friend “he needs to go out there, shoot like a 69, go into the weekend at -10”. Called that one. 5 birdies (one of them almost being an ace), 3 bogeys and 10 pars…in 30mph winds and rain.
Phil, normally an extremely aggressive golfer no matter where he goes, realizes that courses on the right side of the Atlantic Ocean require a different patience compared to courses in the USA. “That’s where it really kind of turned for me, this is where it kind of happened. This is where I stopped trying to overpower the golf course, where I accepted playing it as it’s designed, if you will, and not trying to find a new, better way to beat the course other than just straightforward golf. That’s probably why I love it so much.”
A new, better way to beat the course. Yeah, he’s beating it. In fact, he set a record for the best 36 holes score at a British Open at Royal Troon. It also ties the winning score that it was in 2003 when Todd Hamilton took home the Claret Jug. Unfortunately, there are still 2 rounds to play. A stacked leaderboard also stands in his way that includes Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, and defending Open champion, Zach Johnson. However, if he continues to “beat” the course, he will beat everyone else along with it.