Phil Mickelson is known for his glass-half-full approach to golf. But when the big lefty described his Tuesday practice round at Royal St. George’s as “fun” 12 times in a single press conference, he may have left the impression that the guy with a shall we say, sub-par, record in British Open tests doth protest a tad too much.
Really fun. “I’m really enjoying the golf course,” Mickelson told reporters following his excellent adventure in the wind on the southeast coast of England. “I am very excited about the way the course is playing and the way it’s set up. I thought it was really fun today.”
So that must mean Mickelson played really well during his just-for-fun match with Jeff Overton on a track that he believed would yield few low scores this week. Well, maybe not so much.
“I played terrible and couldn’t reach that par-3, 11th, busted a driver short, and I just thought — I mean, obviously it was really windy today, but I’m having a lot of fun here,” the southpaw reiterated for those in the cheap seats. “I was here last week Monday and Tuesday and saw the course, and I think it’s set up very fair and fun for this test of golf.”
Golf fans would likely forgive Mickelson if he were to give the Brits a pass. After all, the four-time major champ has one top-10 finish and three missed cuts in 17 Open Championship appearances. He’ll tee it up Thursday with defending titleholder Louis Oosthuizen and 2010 PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer, knowing he finished with a share of 48th place last year at St Andrews.
No matter, because Mickelson has adopted a new attitude toward the type of golf that has almost totally flummoxed him. The plan is to leave the past behind and “try to learn and enjoy the challenge of playing links golf,” he said. “And I’m having fun doing that.”
You get the picture. Phil’s having such a wicked good time that he could view with a smile the vagaries of conditions that helped one drive travel 380 yards and knocked another down to 210.
“It’s just interesting, the air is so thick and the wind is so strong, to have such a varying degree and such an importance of trajectory and flight,” Mickelson noted. “I really enjoy playing here. I think it’s a fun challenge, whether I play well or not.”
Despite his chipper demeanor, Mickelson likely believed the eventual outcome would tilt toward the latter.
Open mind. “I don’t think I can say I’m going in [to the tournament] confidently,” Mickelson confided. “I’m going in with an open mind on some of the new ideas to play the course and hopefully play it effectively.”
Whether Mickelson wins the Open or misses the cut on the type of course that, he suggested, does not reward precision, one thing’s for sure — Amy’s husband will enjoy himself.
“Like I say,” he repeated for those just tuning in, “I had fun.”