Phil Mickelson: 2006 Season Review

The year began with great promise and anticipation for PGA Tour star Phil Mickelson. After winning the last major tournament of 2005, Mickelson had high hopes for the 2006 season. Phil Mickelson, the #2 player in the world behind Tiger Woods, practiced thoroughly with his swing coach and his short game coach. The preparation seemed to be paying off as April rolled around. Phil Mickelson already had five top ten finishes, including a run away win at the Bell South Classic. Mickelson was at the top of his game and firing on all cylinders heading into the 2006 Masters, the first major tournament of the year.

Phil Mickelson continued to roll, playing four solid rounds of golf and walking away with the win. The win at the Masters gave him his second green jacket and the third major win of his career. In addition, he had now won two consecutive PGA golf tournaments and the last two majors. With the last two majors under his belt, Phil Mickelson had a chance at the Grand Slam. The Grand Slam is golf’s greatest achievement. In order to complete the Grand Slam, a golfer must win all four major tournaments in a row. Only Bobby Jones and Tiger Woods have accomplished this amazing feat.

Phil Mickelson went into the U.S. Open looking for his third consecutive major victory. All eyes were on Phil as he looked to move one step closer to the Grand Slam. The term “Mickelslam” was coined in anticipation of Phil possibly winning the Grand Slam. With Phil Mickelson’s recent success, the golf world was beginning to view him as a real threat to replace Tiger Woods as the #1 golfer in the world. Mickelson has always had the talent, but he seemed to come up short in the majors. Now, with three major wins in three years, Phil Mickelson was beginning to win the big ones. The world of golf was buzzing with the possibility of Phil challenging Tiger’s #1 world ranking.

At the U.S. Open, Mickelson continued to play great golf. He was tied for the lead at the beginning of the final round on Sunday. Standing on the 18th tee at the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson led the tournament by one stroke and needed only a par to win. One more par and the Mickelslam would be a real possibility. Then, the wheels fell off. First, Phil hit a wild drive off the 18th tee that wound up far left of the fairway. His second shot hit a tree and his third shot found a sand trap. With jubilation turning to desperation, Phil Mickelson took three more strokes to hole out and finished the hole with a double bogey. He lost the tournament and finished in a tie for second place.

The collapse at the U.S. Open left Phil devastated. After the U.S. Open, Mickelson finished tied for 22nd at the British Open, which was won by Tiger Woods. At the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson was paired with Tiger Woods for the first two rounds. Amid much fanfare and media attention, Mickelson birdied the first two holes of the PGA Championship. Off to a fast start, it appeared he was back on track. Tiger was ahead of Phil after two rounds, but they were both in contention. Then, over the weekend, Phil stumbled and Tiger roared. Tiger Woods won the PGA Championship for his second consecutive major and Phil Mickelson finished in a tie for 16th place.

Aside from the British Open and PGA Championship, Mickelson seems to have given up on the season. He has finished in 65th, 71st, and 54th place in his last three tournaments that were not majors. A season that began with so much hope and success has withered into disappointment. It appears that Phil Mickelson just wants this season to end as quickly as possible. Hopefully, with some time away in the off-season, Mickelson can gain some perspective and learn from the 2006 season. As disappointing as his U.S. Open finish was, he still won the Masters this year. And any year that you win a major tournament is a successful year. So, with his roller coaster ride of a season ending, Phil Mickelson needs to look forward and not back. The 2007 PGA season will offer both opportunities and challenges for Mickelson. As always, there is one appropriate question when it comes to Mickelson. What will Phil do next?

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