SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) – Phil Mickelson followed his jump for joy on the 18th green at Augusta last year with a great run in the majors.

He followed his win in the Masters with a second in the U.S. Open, a third in the British Open and a tie for sixth in the PGA Championship.

The 2005 majors have been quite a different story for Mickelson, and this weekend’s PGA Championship is his last shot this year.

“Absolutely, I’m preparing the same way – I haven’t had the same success,” he said, referring to a 10th in the Masters, a tie for 33rd in the U.S. Open and a tie for 60th at the British Open. “I had a great start to the year and I feel like I was playing very well. I just didn’t play the best during the summer, but I think things are turning around and I’m looking forward to finishing off the year right, not just this week, but maybe a few more events.”

Mickelson doesn’t have any problems with Baltusrol Golf Club, the 7,400-yard course that will host the year’s final major. There was plenty of talk about the rough, the length and the softness of the 110-year-old layout that has been the site of seven U.S. Opens.

“I just walked off the golf course, and it’s one of the best, fairest, toughest setups that I think we’ve had in years,” Mickelson said Tuesday. “I understand now why this golf course gets so many major championships. It’s just a terrific test of golf and I’m really excited about the tournament getting started.”

When Mickelson won the Masters in 2004 with the birdie putt on the 72nd hole that sent him airborne in celebration, it was his first major championship in 43 starts as a professional and it laid to rest his title as the best golfer never to win a major.

Now, he faces different questions, such as when will he win his second major.

“If I look statistically, my putting has been the one area on these quick, fast greens in the majors that has not been to the same level as last year, so that’s something I’ve been working on and hopefully have it figured out,” Mickelson said. “The greens here, I feel like I have a pretty good feel on, and they roll so true and perfectly, I feel very confident on them.”

He doesn’t sound like a someone who had just one sub-70 round at St. Andrew’s last month at the British Open, finishing 15 strokes behind Tiger Woods.

“It’s been a great three weeks since the British Open for me,” Mickelson said. “I’ve had some great ideas on how to start playing the way I feel that I can and know that I can.”

He finished 10th last weekend at the International in what he called a “good week.”

Mickelson doesn’t agree with the idea that this week will decide whether 2005 was a success.

“It would certainly make my perception of the way I feel about my performance in the four majors this year do a 180,” he said.

AP-ES-08-09-05 1644EDT


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