Phil Mickelson teed it up in 24 events in 2018, and according to his comments at this past week’s Safeway Open, his schedule won’t come near that number again in the future.
At 48 years old, Mickelson said he was mentally exhausted by year’s end and he’s decided that it’s time for him to take a more Steve Stricker-like approach — pick and choose events that suit his game and his calendar.
“I love what I do,” Mickelson said after his second round at the Safeway. “But now, as opposed to playing the tournaments you’re expected to play in or whatever, now I’m going to play in the tournaments that I like, that are best for me, even if it doesn’t make sense or people have a problem with it.
“As I looked at my schedule next year, and the way some of the tournaments are, yeah, there will be some that I miss that people will be upset about, but I’m not going to worry about it.
“I’m going to have to start limiting the number of tournaments that I play so that I can play those at a higher level, because I’m getting a little bit more mental fatigue and not able to focus and see the shot as clearly as I’d like for so many weeks in a row.
“I’ve learned from this. At 48, it’s not a smart thing to do. I won’t do it anymore. I won’t do it again, playing this much golf. I’ll pace myself much more. I’m able to play at a high level, but it’s so difficult without physical and mental sharpness, to play at a high level. It doesn’t come easy anymore. I need to recover.”
Mickelson wrapped up a strong season in 2018 by any standard. He cracked the winner’s circle for the first time in five years while also making the cut in all but three of the events he entered. He notched 15 top-25 finishes, including six top-10s. He earned more than $4.5 million for his efforts.
However, the way that he finished the season was the main reason for his reflection. The Safeway Open was Mickelson’s eighth start in the previous 10 weeks and he felt that his last-place showing at the Tour Championship, as well as his 0-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, was a direct result of fatigue.
Even battling that mental fatigue, Mickelson found himself in contention in Napa through 36 holes, but he claimed it was more smoke and mirrors than a discovery of form. A 2-over par weekend from Mickelson dropped him from his perch near the top of the leaderboard into a tie for 17th place.