Phil Mickelson in 'best shape' as he chases major success after disappointing year

The American is optimistic about his health and his chances this season ahead of the Saudi International - the season-opening event on the Asian Tour

Phil Mickelson during day one of The Open at St Andrews last year. PA
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Phil Mickelson is not going to tell you how much weight he has lost lately – and it is plenty. But he did reveal that it is all part of a plan to achieve something unprecedented in the sport.

Mickelson rewrote the record books when he became the oldest player to win a major championship with his triumph at the 2021 PGA Championship in Kiawah Island aged 50 years and 11 months.

That makes Mickelson, 52, exempt for every major championship until 2026. And now that he is unable to play on the PGA Tour because of his affiliation with LIV Golf, the American is determined to make his limited playing opportunities count.

Mickelson stepped away from the sport for nearly four months in February last year after excerpts from a book were released in which Mickelson made negative comments about the kingdom. This came weeks after he ripped apart the PGA Tour for being greedy.

Mickelson did not defend his PGA Championship title, and even though he played at the US Open and the Open Championship, his poor form plagued him throughout the LIV Golf season.

“Last year was a very interesting year and a lot of things transpired. I’m embarrassed with how I played. I wasn’t ready to play. I’m going to put that behind me and have a really good year,” said the six-time major winner on the eve of the $5 million Saudi International, the season-opening event on the Asian Tour.

“This year I’m excited to play and I really have some high expectations. I think I have a unique opportunity to do some things that have never been done before in this game at this age.

“I’m in all majors the next three years, and nobody has really had the opportunity to do some special things with the game at this age because they haven’t been injury-free. They would get hurt and they had some struggles when they got older. I’ve been able to play injury-free throughout my career and be in good shape at 52, and I know how to play at a high level.”

Mickelson said he is back to his “college weight” and has tried to do things differently since finishing his LIV season in Miami last October.

“I have a whole different energy. I’ve been rejuvenated. Best shape I’ve been in in a long time. I’m back to my college weight. It allows me to recover faster after I play,” said Mickelson.

“I’ve been able to work with a doctor on specific areas that are going to help me long-term, whether it’s eating the right foods, whether it’s getting rid of inflammation, whether it’s cognitive function or gut health or things like that. I really want to address all areas that can allow me to be my best.

“It has changed my blood work and given me more energy. I’ve noticed I’ve been able to recover and be ready for the next round a lot quicker.

“I’m changing some of the ways I practise to be more efficient. Rather than quantity, it’s much more quality driven. I’m seeing a difference when I go out and play in the way I am pulling the shots off on the golf course.

“I'm very optimistic about playing at a level that I expect to play at.”

Updated: January 31, 2023, 3:06 PM