Having not competed at the 2022 Masters, Phil Mickelson is back on the fairways at Augusta National this week, after a physical transformation that will shock many who are seeing him for the first time in a while.
First and foremost, he’s lost 25 pounds and he’s skinny! I don’t really ever remember Phil being skinny in his prime, but that’s the only way to describe it. He’s also lost the questionable moustache…which in truth is probably for the best.
Mickelson, who opened his account with a 1-under par round of 71, seems happy in his own (looser) skin though and there’s little doubt a healthier lifestyle will help him avoid illness and could even help his game.
“Thank you. I stopped eating food, that was a big help,” Mickelson said of his weight loss secrets. “I lost 25 pounds. Then I had — I also lost muscle, so I had to start lifting, and I’ve been lifting and slowly have been getting my speed and strength back to where I need it to be.
“I’m just going to keep it going this year and continue down that path because, if you watch like some of these guys out here today, how far and how fast they’re able to swing the club, it’s really amazing. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to win. You still have to hit the shots and manage your way around the game, manage your game around the course, but I’ve got to be in shape to be able to have a speed that allows me to compete.
“For overall health and you want to be — like everything I’m doing is for wellness, right? I want to be healthy and well and not have any issues and not have any cardiac issues and not have any — like I want to be fit and be able to enjoy life because this is a really fun chapter right now for Amy and I.
“That’s kind of another big motivator. But when your body, when you rely on your body to be able to do your job, it’s a lot easier to be motivated to stay fit and get healthy and be well and so forth than if you’re not. Like if you don’t need to do that, it’s a lot harder to be motivated.”
And regardless of his move to LIV, Phil is still a crowd favourite around Augusta with loud cheers and roars of support echoing through the pines for the 3-time champion, a far cry from 2022 when he didn’t compete at the tournament but rather went skiing! This year though he’s all in on Augusta and although he’s six shots off the lead on Friday morning, he doesn’t feel he’s too far away from competing.
“I think it’s fun to be in the Masters every year, know you’re going to be in this tournament, know you’re going to be a part of this regardless of how you’re playing and an opportunity to play here.
“I feel like you can play this golf course and not have to be perfect. As long as you put it in the correct spots, you can kind of manage your game around and shoot a number. I think that’s why I always enjoy playing here is because I feel a little bit more relaxed, like I don’t have to be perfect.
“Like I say, I’m two swings away from being right up there. I just need to stay a little bit sharper on every single swing.”
So Mickelson has it all to play for and nothing to lose on Friday, the question is will he give us all the show we want to see, roll back the years and let rip?
“No. You’ve got to go by the pins, right? You have to say, okay, these certain pins I’m going to get at. These I’m not. Then there’s a few tee shots that I have to be really careful of. 5 doesn’t fit my eye. I’m going to hit this low cut. It’s going to be in play, but I’m going to have a long shot in. So I can’t get at that pin. I just want to make par there.
“Even 13, I’m not going to try to hit a big drive. I’m just going to hit this low running cut like I always have. If it’s far enough past, like it was today, I’ll go for it. In the rain, it’s likely that it won’t.
“But I know the shots that I can hit around here and that I’m comfortable hitting and there’s some holes I’ve got to be careful of. They’re usually different than the right-handed players, certain shots. I’m going to end up just playing it that way. And there’s certain pins that I’ll try to get at.
“I ended up almost birdieing a couple holes that were tough pins. No. 9, that’s a tough little pin, and I ended up making birdie there, making a long putt. So you never know. But there’s a certain way that I have to play the course, and then the pins will allow me to go to have some birdies or it won’t.”
- Masters scoring HERE
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