Playing alongside the two men with which he's most seriously contending for Player of the Year honors, Phil Mickelson put on a virtuoso display on Friday at the Deutsche Bank Championship. The reigning British Open champ stormed to the early lead with an eight-under 63.
In the second stage of the PGA's FedEx Cup playoffs, Lefty put playing partners Tiger Woods and Adam Scott and everyone else on early notice that they'd be chasing him on this day. He dropped an amazing seven birdies on the front nine.
Mickelson notched birdies on his first two holes (Nos. 10 and 11 after starting on the back). He parred the next two holes before closing out his first nine holes with five consecutive birdies to leave his playing partners in the dust:
This Boston area course is a par 71 with the back nine being a par 35, so Phil's seven-under was good for a 28, which is completely ridiculous.
Dreams of a 59 faded on the back as Mickelson cooled off a bit, but that doesn't take the shine off his round.
This performance helps him push ahead in a race with no clear leader. With Woods, Scott and Mickelson all turning in worthy seasons, the race for Player of the Year has been close.
Scott beefed up his argument for the prize last week by winning the Barclays. That gave him his second win of the season, the first being his major breakthrough at the Masters.
Scott has six top-10s on the season while making the cut in all 13 of his PGA starts. Along with his win at the Masters, Scott has two other top-five finishes in majors with a third at the British Open and a fifth at the PGA Championship.
Still, when it comes to the Player of the Year discussion, wins have to jump to the forefront, and no one has done as much winning as Tiger Woods.
Woods has five wins in his 13 PGA starts, three more than any other golfer this season. However, as I'm sure you are aware, none of those five wins has come in a major.
Lefty did pick up a major this year. That came at Muirfield, when the 43-year-old hoisted his first Claret Jug. What may have been the most impressive facet of that win was the fact that it came on the heels of his heartbreaking—and familiar—runner-up finish at the U.S. Open.
After losing the lead in the final day at the U.S. Open, it was remarkable that Mickelson was able to keep his mental edge. It speaks to the amazing form he's had this year.
The win at the British is one of two victories for Mickelson this year. His other came back in February at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he led the tournament all four rounds after shooting a first-round 60.
Mickelson doesn't have the consistency of Scott and Woods. While he has seven top-10 finishes, he's also missed three cuts in his 18 PGA starts.
However, his amazing round on Friday punctuates why he needs to be the clubhouse leader for this award. No one has been as spectacular as Mickelson, and many of his performances have come on the biggest of stages.
From his 60 in Phoenix to his 63 on Friday, Mickelson has had some otherworldly rounds this year—his most spectacular as he stormed up the leaderboard on the final day of the British Open, shooting a 66 that didn't seem possible on Muirfield.
Phil has always been able to get hot and do what no one else could do on the golf course. At no time in his eventual Hall of Fame career has that been more apparent than it has this year.
While there are still a few weeks to jumble things up, as they stand now, Mickelson looks poised to cap his season with Player of the Year honors.
All stats via PGATour.com.