Bridgestone notebook: Mickelson looking to change his luck at Akron

Mike Popovich

Phil Mickelson has been in a bit of a rut at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.

The world’s No. 2 player finished 46th last year, 54th in 2006 and 51st in 2005 when the tournament was known as the NEC Invitational.

What has gone wrong at Firestone Country Club? Mickelson has no explanation.

“I do want to change that this week,” he said. “And I’ve been working hard on the area of my game that’s been a little bit deficient, which is short game.”

Mickelson said he feels better about his short game now and expects to do well around Firestone’s greens. The course and the tournament rank among his favorites even though he has not done well in recent years.

“The course is just set up immaculately,” Mickelson said.

On a roll

Kenny Perry has five top-10 finishes in his last six starts, including wins at The Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Buick Open and John Deere Classic. At 47, he is the oldest player in PGA Tour history to win three events in one season. Perry joked Wednesday, “I’ve got a lot of guys rubbing on me, touching my clubs. It’s pretty funny. Everybody wants to talk to me now. After 22 years, nobody really seemed to care. Now all of a sudden everybody is bothering me.”

Keep an eye on …

England’s Ian Poulter is coming off a PGA Tour career-best tying-runner-up finish at the British Open. Poulter birdied three holes in the final round and finished four shots behind winner Padraig Harrington.

“It was a great buzz,” said Poulter, a seven-time winner on the European tour. “To be in contention with nine holes to play was just a great, great adrenaline rush to be honest. It was a nice position to be in. To see yourself going up the leaderboard as opposed to going down was a nice change.”

Enjoying the challenge, staying fresh and not pushing himself too hard were factors in Poulter’s success, he said.

“That’s probably what I’ve done wrong in the past,” Poulter said. “I’ve been pressing too hard in major golf tournaments. I’ve been wanting to perform very, very well, not only to win golf tournaments but to move up in the rankings. Sometimes it’s all about just getting into position, trying to work your way into a golf tournament and finding yourself in a situation like I did with nine holes to play.”


It is a good thing Harrington did not bring the Claret Jug. The trophy awarded to the British Open winner would have been a late arrival.

Harrington left his suitcase in his bedroom at home and only realized it in Chicago when he was about to file a complaint with the airline.

“My wife looked at me and said, ‘You’re lucky you won the Open two weeks ago. We’re going to give you a pass on this one. We’re not going to give you a ribbing over leaving your suitcase behind because you won the Open,’” Harrington said. “So I got away with that won.”

FedEx shipped Harrington’s suitcase to Firestone. It arrived Wednesday morning.

“You saw me arriving here today in my shorts and T-shirt, and I got to the locker room and there were my golf clubs,” Harrington said. “It’s a miracle.”

Contact Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or