Mickelson on a roll ahead of Masters defence

Phil and Amy Mickelson brought down the unforgettable curtain on the US Masters twelve months ago with tears of joy. Mickelson, who wore the Green Jacket for the third time in a matter of six years, appeared to be the new Augusta Master and the natural successor to Tiger Woods.

The said theory became stronger this week with Mickelson’s three shots to victory and a flurry of birdies at the Shell Houston Open yesterday. For the first time since April 1997, Mickelson surged past Tiger Woods in the world rankings.

It can be recalled that Mickelson, who struggle a year ago as he and Amy were struggling against her breast cancer, is in a “much better place now”.  He also struggled with the effects of psoriatic arthritis which was blamed for almost twelve months of almost fruitless labour in the course after his dramatic win in the Masters.

Mickelson’s camp may have shrugged off the debilitating effects of his arthritic condition but all is well thanks to the best of medical care. Amy was quoted with her trademark humour last summer as saying “We always expected to grow old together, just not at 38 and 40.”

His fellow Major champions however never once doubted Mickelson’s potential at the Augusta National.

“I saw him there last Tuesday, working hard on his short game with Dave Pelz, while it looked like his game was simmering nicely at Doral,” US Open champion Graeme McDowell said. Mickelson and Bubba Watson were nominated by Mickelson as his two Masters hotshots.

“You’d want to be well on top of your emotions and in control of your game coming down that stretch because that back nine on Sunday is an extreme test,” Padraig Harrington said,

“Everybody looks for an edge and Phil would swear that because he’s a left-hander, he’s got a bit of an advantage. Whether it does or it doesn’t, he has convinced himself it does. I’ve also heard Phil talking about how Augusta plays to his short game and his imagination, that if he does hit a wild shot, he can recover.”