Phil Mickelson was nothing if not engaging in his presser on the eve of the Travelers Championship. He’s typically ebullient, to be sure, but his bright spirits yesterday likewise stemmed from fond memories of the tournament, having claimed it in successive years at the turn of the century. And were it not invariably scheduled right after the United States Open, he may well have added to his tally of victories at TPC River Highlands. Instead, he wound up skipping it from 2003 onwards, and only a change in his frequency of appearances on tour paved the way for his return.

In any case, Mickelson will, no doubt, draw from his wellspring of positive experiences at the pride of Cromwell, Connecticut in his aim to carve a favorable result this weekend. That he did not play well at the US Open despite his familiarity and previous successes at Pebble Beach should provide him with added motivation. Parenthetically, it helps that the 6,841-yard, par-70 layout fits his eye, the Bobby Weed redesign is evidently suited for left-handers and provides a back-nine setup that leans toward his high-risk, high-reward predilections.

Yesterday, Mickelson also took note of the large crowds that support the event, and how his relative freshness should serve him in good stead. They play into his personality, of course; he’s exactly the type of competitor who draws strength from, and panders to, galleries — and the bigger the better. Needless to say, he’s angling for a podium finish, just as he was at the US Open last week, and at the Memorial last month. It’s certainly the rationale behind his choice of stops; at 49 and no longer as physically able to come up with his A-game for long stretches, he is compelled to pick his spots.

Perhaps Mickelson will prevail at the Travelers. Perhaps he won’t. All the same, he’s keen on showing his best every time he tees off. Still quite long with the driver and among the best around the greens, he knows he has a chance. And at this point, a chance is all he needs to keep on trying.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing the Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.