Victorious Mickelson Looks Ahead with New Coach Harmon

Phil Mickelson may be timing his tune-up for the US Open just right. And if everything goes according to plan, he’d love to be playing the Oakmont course in four weeks time in the same form, or better, as he was during The Players Championship at Sawgrass over the weekend.

Lefty shot a final round three-under-par 69 at the TPC for a four-round total of 11-under 277 and a two-stroke victory over Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who closed with a 66.

Stewart Cink, who also shot 66 in the final round, and Jose Maria Olazabal (67) were tied for third at eight-under 280.

Mickelson can be happy with his performance, in one of the most difficult courses on the PGA Tour against one of the strongest fields assembled this season and for the biggest paycheque on tour – $1.63 million for the winner.

It was his 31st victory on the PGA Tour and second of the season, allowing him to move up to number two on the Official World Golf Rankings. It was also his first victory under coach Butch Harmon, taken on to improve his swing, since he left former guru Rick Smith.

While he thrived on the chance to spend time with Harmon, Mickelson refused to look too far ahead to the US Open, the second Major of the season. He was quoted on the PGA Tour website as saying:

“No, I’m not ready for that yet. I do need those three or four weeks to continue to progress and get sharper. I struck it today the way I need to, but I didn’t do it all four days, and that’s what I need to do. I’m really excited about the direction I’m headed.”

In Andalucia, England’s Lee Westwood ended a four-year drought by winning the Valle Romano Open de Andalucia for his 17th European Tour title.

The 34-year-old closed with a five-under-par 67 for a 20-under total of 268, two shots ahead of compatriot Phillip Archer, who shot 65 in his last round, and Swede Fredrik Andersson-Hed (66).

Westwood endured a torrid time with the putter on the home stretch, dropping three shots, after having built up a five-stroke lead with eight holes remaining. He was delighted to have earned the win, saying on the Tour’s website:

“Winning was very important, it wouldn’t have felt good coming off with second or third after getting in such a good position. I never really thought about going so long without a win. I’ve still been playing pretty well and I knew that winning is fickle, sometimes you just don’t get across the line first.”

The victory was worth 166,660 euro for Westwood, who rises to 18th on the European Tour Order of Merit and is probably returning to the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings.

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