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Mental workout works for Mickelson

Greater Hartford winner calls victory ‘good starting point’

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CROMWELL, Conn. — Phil Mickelson went from beating himself up over his recent final-round failures to beating everybody else in the Greater Hartford Open.

Booming drives and sticking with his new mental approach, Mickelson shot a 2-under-par 68 on Sunday for a 1-stroke victory over Billy Andrade at the muggy TPC at River Highlands.

"This is a good starting point," said Mickelson, who finished at 16-under 264. On Saturday, he matched the course record with a career-best 61 to take a 1-stroke lead over David Berganio Jr.

Mickelson didn't touch a club last week after a final-round 75 in the U.S. Open, choosing instead to practice using visualization techniques he learned at Arizona State.

"I felt much more comfortable, much more relaxed, and worked from a positive frame of mind," Mickelson said. "Changing my mental approach and my outlook has allowed me to perform at a higher lever — to perform at my best.

"I feel if I can start to work on that and refine that and get better at it, I should be able to close more on the opportunities that I have been giving myself."

After winning in San Diego in February, the 31-year-old left-hander faded on Sunday in the Masters, New Orleans, the Colonial and the U.S. Open.

"It was certainly nice to win, especially after letting the opportunities slide the way I have," said Mickelson, who has 12 victories in 16 career events with the 54-hole lead.

He earned $558,000 for his 19th tour victory to push his season total to $3,569,724, second behind Tiger Woods. Mickelson also has three runner-up finishes and four thirds this year.

He parred the final three holes after dropping a stroke on the 296-yard 15th, his lone bogey of the weekend. After his drive bounced into the water on the left side of the 15th green, he chipped to about 20 feet and 2-putted.

On the difficult 17th, with water lining the entire right side, he nearly holed his approach shot, but the ball spun off the front of the green. He chipped to a foot to save par.

"I expected it to fly it about 4, 5 yards behind the hole, then come back," Mickelson said. "It wasn't a hard chip, but that took away a good birdie opportunity."

He made a textbook par on the 18th, driving down the middle, hitting a sand wedge approach to about 20 feet and completing his breakthrough victory with a tap-in.

Andrade, from Rhode Island, shot a 66. Dudley Hart (63), Chris DiMarco (68) and Berganio (69) tied for third, 2 strokes back.