AKRON, Ohio -- A day after lamenting the state of his game and calling his chances to win next week's PGA Championship something that would be "out of nowhere," Phil Mickelson shot a 62 at Firestone Country Club, his best round of the year.
Mickelson had 10 birdies during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and finished three shots lower than his best score in the tournament, dating to 1999.
"Today it kind of came together," said Mickelson, who birdied his first three and last three holes. "I started hitting the ball the right distance with my irons. I had much better control. I had the right spin, the right trajectory, and ended up making those putts and had 10 birdies today.
"This was a big day for me heading into next week because I feel like I'm not trying to search and find it on Thursday. I feel like my game is right there. I have a little bit of momentum heading in, and I don't feel like I'm searching as much. I feel like I found what I'm looking for. I just have to keep it going and build on today's round and put together four good, solid rounds."
It has been a frustrating year for Mickelson, who still does not have a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour, after tying for 15th at Firestone. After opening the year with a tie for second at the European Tour event in Abu Dhabi, he has rarely contended, has missed three cuts and is in danger of his first winless year since 2003.
Although in recent weeks Mickelson had proclaimed confidence that his game was close, his words were far more ominous on Saturday. A recent bout of strep throat did not help.
"I'm not as close as I thought I was," he said Saturday. "It would be out of nowhere for me to play well."
Nowhere was Sunday.
Mickelson hit just 11 greens in regulation but still made those 10 birdies, against two bogeys.
"My confidence heading into the PGA is astronomically higher than it was 24 hours ago, and I feel like, heading into Thursday's round, that I'm not searching to find something, that I have what I'm looking for," he said. "I just have to maintain it. ... As I was saying yesterday, I've struggled with my iron play and not making enough birdies, and then I come out today and make 10. That to me was the big change."
Mickelson was headed to Louisville on Sunday for this week's PGA Championship at Valhalla Country Club.