Phil Mickelson said his recent slump can be blamed on his golf swing, not an arthritic condition.
“My game has not been what I would like it to be the past two months,” Mickelson said in an interview yesterday at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. “Fortunately, it’s not health related.”
Mickelson tees off at 1:40 p.m. local time tomorrow with Padraig Harrington and Davis Love III in the first round of the PGA Championship, the last of four annual major golf tournaments. Mickelson won the title in 2005, three years before Harrington.
Mickelson, 42, suffers from psoriatic arthritis, a joint condition that leads to stiffness and swelling throughout his body. He first revealed the condition before the 2010 PGA Championship and has been undergoing treatment since.
While Mickelson said his health isn’t currently an issue, some golf observers have questioned his well-being after poor performances on the course.
“Physically, he just doesn’t look 100 percent,” former European Tour player Frank Nobilo, now a Golf Channel analyst, said on an Aug. 3 media conference call. “His game isn’t sharp. It doesn’t look like he’s been able to put the time in that he would have liked.”
After a victory at Pebble Beach, California, in February, Mickelson finished runner-up at the Northern Trust Open a week later. He was fourth at the Houston Open and third at April’s Masters Tournament, the first major of the year.
“I had a good start to the year,” Mickelson said.
The left-hander missed the 36-hole cut in back-to-back events at the U.S. PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic and British Open last month, and was 43rd at last week’s Bridgestone Invitational, leading to questions about whether he can add another major title.
“He’s reluctant to be completely transparent because it opens himself up to a lot of different questions that he probably wouldn’t want to answer,” said former PGA Tour player Brandel Chamblee, now a Golf Channel analyst. “So we’re left to fill in the blanks.”
Mickelson has an endorsement agreement with Pfizer Inc.’s Enbrel, a treatment for psoriatic arthritis.
“I’ve been able to practice hard,” he said. “I’ve been able to work out. I lost weight. I’m in better shape than I have been in a long time. That hasn’t been the issue.”