Stadium Stories: Mickelson's great escape

THE PLAYERS 2007: Phil Mickelson

There were some line items that made you stop and adjust your senses on the eve of THE PLAYERS Championship 2007.

A $9 million purse? Impressive.

A May date after having been played in late March since 1977? Made sense, given that to make room for the debut of the FedExCup Playoffs, the entire schedule needed adjusting.

But this factoid about Phil Mickelson having never won THE PLAYERS in 13 starts? Just didn’t seem possible.

Yet, it was true, as Mickelson had but two top 10s at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, his best a share of third. Explain, please?

A shrug and a smile and a brush off to yesterdays, because Mickelson thy middle name is Resiliency and at 36 he was all about the here and now. “I’m on the right path,” he said upon his arrival to the Stadium Course with new swing coach Butch Harmon on his team.

Doubt Lefty at your peril, because he’s a fascinating study in determination and he proved that again at the 34th edition of this showcase event on the PGA TOUR. Every world-class player was in attendance, but it was Mickelson who shined brightest as he overtook 26-year-old Sean O’Hair in the final round, the highlight to his three-win season.

With a closing 69, Mickelson finished at 11-under 277 to edge Sergio Garcia (66) by two. O’Hair faded with a 76.

Post-game autographs are a staple, but the first went to Harmon. “Butch, the first of many,” he wrote.

He could have added, “Finally, THE PLAYERS.”

“I’m on the right path.” - Phil Mickelson