Phil Mickelson’s fasting and ‘wellness’ coffee won’t win him The Open

Phil Mickelson’s attempt to go unnoticed at The Open lasted just one day. A video that claimed to be a change in the tone of his social media approach unintentionally became the latest chapter in his summer amusement tour on those platforms.

Phil announced he made something called a “hard reset” since his appearance and missed cut at the 3M Open in Minneapolis two weeks ago. The reset consisted of a retreat of some sort, as well as a six-day fast and diet of water and a special coffee blend “for wellness.” Standing on an Irish landscape in a black-on-black “Phil leaping” logo hat and in all-black, logo-less athletic wear of some sort, Phil said he’d lost 15 pounds. With a little better production, the script and outfit could have made him a character in a scene from HBO’s Silicon Valley.

Mickelson also told USA Today’s Steve DiMeglio that he added yoga to his routine, went on regular hikes, and that he didn’t fast to lose weight but “to heal.” He’s leaning on a maxim that “everything you put into your body is either causing disease or helping you fight disease.”

It’s an unconventional approach for a pro golfer trying to play better golf but one that’s perfectly on-brand for Mickelson.

Will it work for The Open?

Oh, no. No, almost certainly not. But it’s worth the shot, and that appears to be all this is for Phil. He’s not claiming he’s found some secret, but he’s just trying something, anything, to switch it up during a stretch in which he’s missed four of six cuts and not been competitive at the major championships.

Even if he’s done this to “heal,” his golf game is still in a 120th-strokes-gained-tee-to-green ranking state of disrepair. He seems to understand this, telling DiMeglio, “I’m not sure it will help my game. I don’t have high expectations this week.”

Mickelson can absolutely contend this week at Royal Portrush. He’s still crushing the ball off the tee for his age and this major tends to be the one most hospitable to the older players in the game. Links golf can promote the strategists and/or those with experience playing a style that’s so far removed from the weekly point-and-hit dartboards on the PGA Tour. A decade ago we saw Tom Watson nearly win The Open at 59 years old. There was a time in his career when the high-ball hitting Mickelson was not a fit for this style, which he readily admitted. But he figured it out in the later stages of that career, winning in 2013 at Muirfield (the best major performance of his career) and contending multiple times since.

Phil’s hate relationship with links golf and The Open is now all love and has been for almost a decade. He relishes it and there’s a good chance this will be the one major he can contend at into his 50s. But that doesn’t mean the “mental clarity” he now has from a cannonball fast and some special coffee will put his 2019 golf game in positive state for a championship he now embraces.

What’s in the special coffee?

We did not get specifics about the special “wellness blend,” but Mickelson does shoutout Dave Phillips, who he says he’d been working with on the coffee. Two years ago, Phil went into more on his intricate coffee routine with Alan Shipnuck, prompting great fascination back then that compelled Phillips, a self-proclaimed “coffee custodian” and “coffee sommelier,” to share some further detail:

Mickelson brews his magic elixir in a Presse, made by Bobble. Here is the tick-tock from Phillips: “Fill to the top with coarse ground Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee, then add water heated to 200 degrees. Stir five or six times, wait three minutes and then plunge it. (If you wait too long the beans get bitter.) Phil then pours it into a Bodum pot and adds Califa Farms almond milk, a dash of cinnamon, a few Yiragacheffe Cacao nibs (80%) and a little medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which is extracted from coconuts. With a hand electric blender he mixes it until slightly frothy and that’s it.”

A year later in the summer of 2018 during a day out with Shipnuck, Phil was adding five shots of espresso to the potion he claimed strengthened his immune system and reduced inflammation during training.

It is unclear if this is the current-day wellness blend, but with Phillips still involved, it’s likely something close to the one from two years ago. But perhaps they came up with some totally different and extra special brew for pre-Open fasts.

“Keeping it real”

Phil begins his video saying “let’s get real” and closes it with a “for now, let’s keep it real” signaling some change in tone. But the eccentricity of the fast before a major championship and his “special coffee” only made him yet another full-day story of fascination and Twitter one-liners. Then he went back into hiding, passing on a pre-tournament press conference, something that’s become routine for him at the majors, save for for the Masters, where he doesn’t dare refuse the green jackets’ requests.

Mickelson has not played good golf this summer but he has been a content-generating machine on social media, where he shares stories on encountering excrement in golf holes at PGA Tour events, calf workout tips, and gets cheeky about “hitting bombs.”

148th Open Championship - Previews
Phil practicing on Tuesday at Portrush with his beverage tumbler at the ready.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

He finally relented and jumped into the time-wasting and often soul-sucking cavern of social media in the summer of 2018, but what followed was a series of mostly corny and transparently over-produced attempts to promote his made-for-TV Match against Tiger Woods. This year, however, it felt like Phil had elbowed out what had to be a cadre of caretakers for these social accounts and taken the reins himself, with no real purpose or promotional strategy other than to get off some jokes and give you a real look into his restrictor plate-free mind.

The purpose of Phil’s fasting video appears to be quite serious although, because this is Phil, he probably also knew the reaction it would get. He wouldn’t have shared some of the specifics had he wanted to stay off the radar. An attempt to keep it real and pause the variety show turned out to be the most interesting and entertaining act so far. Now comes the golf, which, in good times and in bad, is always entertaining.

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