Phil Mickelson Fails to Crack the Top Half of a LIV Golf Leaderboard Yet Again
Back from a month-long hiatus, LIV Golf resumed its 2023 season this past weekend at famed Valderrama Golf Club in the Andalusia region of southern Spain. And once again, Phil Mickelson was nowhere near the top of the leaderboard.
But as anyone who’s followed the 45-time PGA Tour winner’s progress since he defected to the Saudi-backed series, that’s been the common theme for Lefty over the last year and a half.
Sure, Mickelson put on a solid throwback performance at this year’s Masters, firing a final-round 65 at Augusta National to get himself into a tie for second. However, while entertaining and undoubtedly impressive, it’s not as if he was ever truly in contention, as he finished four shots back of Jon Rahm. But it was at least closer than he’s ever been in any LIV Golf event.
In the 14 LIV tournaments in which he’d teed it up prior to Valderrama, Phil recorded just a single top-10, that being an eighth-place finish last year at Rich Harvest Farms in suburban Chicago. But he still finished seven strokes back of Cameron Smith that week and needed a final-round 66 just to get to that point.
In his first seven starts this season, Mickelson had cracked the top 15 just once and had finished outside the top half of the field five times. And the latter was the case yet again this week at Valderrama.
Phil Mickelson struggled in yet another LIV Golf event
Prior to this week’s LIV Golf event at Valderrama, Phil Mickelson had only played the Robert Trent Jones Sr. design twice. And things didn’t go overly well the previous two times.
At the 1997 Ryder Cup, Lefty secured just two points for the U.S., going 1-1-2 as the Americans suffered a heartbreaking 14.5-13.5 defeat. At least he was better than Tiger Woods, who went 1-3-1.
But he certainly wasn’t better than Tiger when they returned two years later for the 1999 WGC-American Express Championship. While Woods shot 6-under over 72 holes and defeated Miguel Angel Jimenez in a playoff, Mickelson finished 17 strokes back after shooting 77-78 on the weekend.
And while the 53-year-old never got that high this past weekend, he finished well back of winner Talor Gooch.
To kick off his week, Phil fired a 2-over 73, putting him six shots behind 18-hole co-leaders Dustin Johnson and Jason Kokrak. In Round 2, Mickelson was better by four strokes, shooting a 1-under 70, but was 10 behind Bryson DeChambeau.
Lefty went back in the black in his third round with another 2-over 73 to finish at 3-over for the week, 15 shots back of Gooch, who captured his third LIV Golf title of the year at 13-under.
Now, technically, Mickelson tied for 23rd with Louis Oosthuizen, Richard Bland, and Pat Perez. But given how LIV Golf scores events, he officially finished 26th, putting him out of the top half for the sixth time this season. Phil’s average finishing position this year is a woeful 30.8, which obviously isn’t great in 48-player fields.
And things don’t look overly optimistic for him this week either as LIV Golf returns to London’s Centurion Club this week, where he finished 34th a year ago at 10-over.
Perhaps Phil Mickelson can turn things around at The Open Championship in a few weeks, which will be contested this year at Royal Liverpool, where he finished 22nd in 2006 and 23rd in 2014, shooting 5-under both times.