Phil Mickelson turns 43 next year, but his short-game coach Dave Pelz says that Mickelson's best golf might still be ahead of him. In an interview with Golf.com to promote his new book Dave Pelz's Putting Games, Pelz said Mickelson was hitting the ball better than ever in 2012, and that it was just his putting holding him back.
This year you may have noticed [Mickelson] was experimenting with his putting. He’s been doing this because his short game is the best in the world and it’s the best it’s ever been, and his driving is better than it’s ever been. It’s not the best in the world yet, but it’s pretty long and it’s reasonably straight. So his ballstriking is the best it’s ever been and his short game is the best it’s ever been. But his putting wasn’t up to standard this year. One time he was playing with Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele and he was hitting the ball better than either one of them for 36 holes and they dusted him. That really made him mad and he started messing with the belly putter and the long putter and experimenting to see if we could find any way that he can improve and get his putting up to the level of everything else. If he can get that next year better than it’s ever been then he will have the best year of his career.
One sign that Mickelson might be in store for a great year in 2013 is that he's feeling healthier, Pelz said. Mickelson revealed that he was suffering from psoriatic arthritis at the 2010 PGA Championship. He has not blamed his uneven play on his illness, but Mickelson's 2012 season was all over the place. He steamrolled Tiger Woods with a final-round 64 to win the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February and finished third at the Masters, but then was a nonfactor at the rest of the year's majors before showing some of his old form in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and in the Ryder Cup.
He’s had some problems the last couple years because of psoriatic arthritis. He’s taken some medication that has made it more difficult for him to practice as much as he wants to. But he’s actually getting that under control and this year I think he’s started hitting it better than he’s ever hit and I know his short game is better, we measured that. So he’s really doing great. If he can get his putting going, even at his age -- he’s not old but he’s in his 40s -- I think he’s going to have the year of his career.
Pelz also shared the most amazing shot he's ever seen Mickelson hit during their nine years working together.
I saw him lay the ball against the far edge of the bunker -- imagine the bunker’s like a bowl and the ball is on the upslope on the far side. He’s got a downhill lie to an elevated green and there’s just no way to hit the shot. So he turns around with his back to the hole and swings the other way and hits it back over his own head. He did three shots. One went in the hole, one was about four feet from the hole and the other was 15 feet from the hole. I went over there and tried that for an hour and I couldn’t get one on the green.
Mickelson liked that shot so much, he put it in his own instruction video.