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Phil Mickelson’s struggles at major championships did not come to end at the PGA Championship after missing the cut with an 8-over 79 opening round and a 3-over 74 in the second round.
Mickelson has won just one major championship in the last seven years and none since the 2013 Open Championship. With Phil missing the cut at Quail Hollow, it is the fourth time in the last seven majors he has played in which he was not around to play on the weekend.
While there were a lot of sentimental people who picked Mickelson as a dark-horse candidate to win the PGA Championship, his performances over the last two years suggest he is in a major funk, a funk that one former PGA Tour caddie does not think Lefty can get out of.
Michael Collins, who served as a caddie on the PGA Tour and who is now an ESPN analyst, was a guest on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” and was asked to critique Mickelson’s performance after the first round and in light of so many people mistakenly thinking he had a shot to win.
Collins’ assessment can best be described as “brutally honest,” noting that the Mickelson who won five majors is gone.
“What has Phil Mickelson done the last two years that would have given you any glimpse of that kind of hope?” Collins said. “I mean, he hit six out of 18 greens [in the first round], and that was with hitting eight fairways. He hit more fairways than he hit greens… And it’s one of those things where we are so used to seeing Phil go wild off the tees, but then be able to hit those amazing recovery shots and make that 15-20-foot birdie. This came out of nowhere. Nobody saw it coming. But guess what, that Phil Mickelson? He’s gone.”
Here are two examples, via ESPN, of Mickelson botching seemingly basic approach shots to the green during the first round.
Collins went on to explain that it is difficult to see the end in golf because for the most part, the golfer looks the same, and how in other sports it is easier to see when an athlete has lost a step.
“In golf, they put the outfit on and you’re like, ‘that’s the same dude right there and he can still hit it 300 yards every now and then when he needs to reach back and get one,'” Collins said.
But for Collins, the signs are clear, Phil is done winning majors.
“But what it comes down to, you’ve gotta look at the scorecard and when the scorecard is falling apart and the caddie and you split after 25 years, it’s a little bit of a sign. It’s just hard for us, because we’re so spoiled. We lived through his great age, and it is hard to look at a guy like that and go, ‘Man, it might be over. This dude, he’s probably done winning.’ At least majors. He might win a tournament here and there. But as far as majors go, it’s not like all these young guys that are out here right now are like, ‘Oh, Phil’s here, let’s not practice as hard.'”
When host Mike Greenberg pushed back on Collins a bit and declared that Mickelson has at least one more run in him at a major – Mickelson did finish second at last year’s Open Championship – Greenberg pointed to Tom Watson’s run at the 2009 Open Championship, where he finished second at age 59, and Jack Nicklaus’ late-career run to win the 1986 Masters.
But while Mickelson looks the same, it is also easy to forget that he is 47, a year older than Nicklaus was at the Masters, and as Collins pointed out, Watson did not win The Open.
You can see Collins’ comments here: