Phil Mickelson hasn’t been consistently good for a while now. Arguably, he started the year on a high; he claimed a bridesmaid finish at the Desert Classic in January and then a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am three weeks later. Yet, even then, there were signs that he would have trouble staying sharp; for instance, his competitive stints sandwiched a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he had previously won thrice. He would wind up tinkering with his swing off the tee and stroke on the greens as he negotiated his 2019 campaign, and his results underscored both the causes and effects of his efforts to find comfort in his mechanics.
Following a 32nd-place showing at The Northern Trust, Mickelson dropped four spots to 36th in world rankings. It reflected his continuing — and so far futile — search for peace inside the ropes. Every week, he would start a tournament with promise, and, every week, he would end it with disappointment; his win at the Monterey Peninsula was the last time he handed a scorecard good enough to be in the Top 10. Meanwhile, he would accumulate seven MCs in 15 events, with a tie for 18th at the Masters his best standing of all the stops in which he managed to stay for the weekend.
Mickelson isn’t about to give up anytime soon, though. In fact, he remains optimistic about his chances with a club in his hand, his confidence borne as much of a rightful recognition of his outstanding short game as of his contentment in his life outside the sport. He’s not the people’s champion for nothing, and his public persona — which may or may not be genuine depending on the quarter assessing it — has thrived precisely because of the warmth he conveys. In fact, he understands the value of spreading good cheer, and how to do so with aplomb.
By the standards of household names, Mickelson has a modest following on Twitter. Considering that his account isn’t even a year old, however, 414,000 is nothing to scoff at. And, regardless, it has become well worth the constant lookup. The other day, for instance, he posted a video in which he recounts the final round of — what else? — the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2012, by his reckoning one of only three times he beat Tiger Woods on the course. It was a humorous take that guest-starred former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and a digital photo frame of his longtime rival. Lots of needling, self-deprecation, and, most importantly, insights in a span of two minutes and change.
Under the circumstances, Mickelson doesn’t have to be told that his Twitter game is much, much better than his actual one. If anything’s a sure thing, though, it’s that he will strive to be at his finest in both. And fans of his golf and his unique brand of comedy and candor can’t ask for anything more.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing 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.