If you were to compare Phil Mickelson's career to anything, it would almost certainly be a roller coaster. His ups and downs on the course are the stuff of legends, and with the exception of maybe John Daly, only "Phil the Thrill" is capable of shooting 64 one day and 75 the next on a consistent basis.
Mickelson has always employed an Arnold Palmer go-for-broke style on the course, and that's a big reason why it's so much fun to watch the guy when he tees it up. It's because unlike most guys on tour, you honestly don't know what you're going to get from Phil from round-to-round.
Until now. Now, I don't know what the heck is going on at the moment, but I think we need to send out an APB and start a search for Mr. Thrill, because the guy who showed up this week at Riviera for the Northern Trust Open isn't the same guy who successfully hit a backwards flop shot and made birdie at the 2010 Masters from the pine straw.
Forget the incredible 8-under 64 Mickelson fired during the final round of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am for a second, the craziest thing about Lefty's recent isn't his red-hot play; it's actually how damn consistent the guy is at the moment.
Get this: Before a bogey on the par-3 16th hole during Thursday's opening round at Riviera, Mickelson had gone a mind-blowing 49 holes without a bogey. WITHOUT a bogey. I know some guys on tour like Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar can go extended periods of time without putting a square on the card, but not Phil.
After putting together one of the best final rounds we've seen in some time, Mickelson is at it again this week, posting a 5-under 66 at Riviera to take a one-shot lead after the first round. And with only one bogey on the card, we're starting to see a trend forming for Mr. Mickelson: he's starting to get scary consistent.
Now, all this talk about Mickelson being Mr. Consistent could change tomorrow, but at the moment, he's showing some flashes of brilliance we've seen before in his career. It's hard to tell if those flashes of brilliance will equal another major or two this year, but the way Phil's striking the ball and putting at the moment, you have to like his chance to have a big year.
A big year with a couple of majors? Who knows for sure. But the way he's playing at the moment, the "Year of the Dragon" could very well turn into the "Year of the Mickelson".