February 13, 2019
Mickelson shows his greatness at Pebble
Phil Mickelson was at his best this past week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. That was his A+ game. It is fun to see someone play that well and be in full control. Phil usually has his moments where the ball could go anywhere, but not this week. Accuracy off the tee and pinpoint iron play were the strong points of his game in capturing his 44th PGA Tour victory.
On Saturday, when the conditions were extremely tough on the Pebble Beach Golf Links, Phil had to battle the elements of wind, cold, and rain. Of the three courses that day, he faced the toughest challenge. He was able to hang in there with a good game plan and excellent execution. If you are not able to control your ball flight and distance, those conditions will kill your score. Phil had a good week driving the ball, but what I was the most impressed with was his iron play. He hit a variety of knock-down, three-quarter, and half shots that were masterful.
In windy conditions your swing and body are tough to remain in balance. The higher you hit the ball, the more difficult it is to control distance and direction. Phil used a shorter swing and abbreviated finish to keep in balanced and hit the ball lower. We all know about Phil's great touch around the green and variety of shots that he has. He used the same imagination and skill on his approach shots, never hitting the same shot, but still getting superb results. He was an artist at his best, showing his extraordinary skills.
Harry Vardon, the greatest golfer from the early 1900's, was a proponent of less than a full golf swing when approaching the green. "Why swing fully when an easy half swing with a mashie niblick (7 or 8 iron) will be more consistent." In 2016, I wrote an article about the 125 yard 7 iron and the importance to become proficient at controlling the distance with all clubs. Expert players do not have one golf shot or swing when hitting a regular 7 iron. I would guess the combinations of low, medium, high, hook, slice, punch, spin rate, etc. could be endless. I have about fifteen ball flight combinations that I can create with my seven iron. I would guess Phil has many more. Click on this link and read my article about the "125 yard 7 iron" and ways to practice and improve your distance control.
Phil won for the fifth time at Pebble Beach. That bodes well for his confidence for the U.S. Open that will be played at Pebble in June. However, it will be a totally different golf course and conditions. Rough will be higher, fairways narrower, greens hard and faster, and stretched to its' maximum distance. Pebble will have all its' teeth for a major championship test. I hope Phil has his "A" game ready in June. Seeing him dominate this week, we could see a similar result in June.