Mickelson reflects: How failing to beat Xander Schauffele helped him win the PGA Championship

Before teeing it up with Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger in the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge, Mickelson provided great insight into his sixth Major Championship victory last week.

WC Fields once repeated the famous mantra, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," before adding: "Then quit. There's no point being a damn fool about it."

Phil Mickelson, it turns out, prefers the words of Samuel Beckett, who wrote: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

The 50-year-old was even moved to tweet about the subject in the weeks leading up to his PGA Championship triumph last week:

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What we might not have expected, however, is just how literally, and quite how entertainingly, this ethos was revealed in his desire to first beat Xander Schauffele.

Ahead of this week's Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, the new PGA Championship winner revealed the curious role Schauffele had in triggering his career kickstart.

"So, a big thing for me in getting things turned around has been the opportunity to play with a lot of good young players," he explained.

"I remember I played a match with Xander and he went out and shot 64 and I'm like, wow, all right, you gave me a pretty good beating, let's do this again.

"So a few days later we went and played again and he shot 63. I'm like, wow, okay. Let me try one more time.

Schauffele kept beating Mickelson up.
Schauffele kept beating Mickelson up.

"So we go out next time and he shoots 62.

"On a 220-yard par 3, I had to press and I hit it to four feet. Then he makes a hole-in-one.

"I went back to Amy (his wife) and I'm like, 'I don't know how I'm going to beat this guy.'

"But seeing the way he played with such calm, he didn't try to overpower every hole but overpowered the holes he should. He kept ball in play and kept it on the ground and hit his iron shots pin-high and was solid from inside 15 feet.

"I saw what it looked like to play at the highest level and so forth."

Mickelson heeded those lessons, but he needed to put them into play at the highest level.

"Just prior to Innisbrook (earlier this month), I started shooting those same scores at the same course and I felt like I should be able to compete," he said.

"Then I went to Innisbrook and missed the cut. I didn't execute on Tour the way I had been at home.

"I still had a barrier to breakthrough. I was so frustrated that I wasn't bringing my best out when I knew I could.

"I had a glimpse there obviously at Charlotte (he claimed the first round lead) but I wasn't able to sustain it.

"I had seen the progress, but I had not seen the results. I had a belief but until you actually do it, it's tough to really fully believe it."

And then he became the oldest winner of a Major Championship on the longest course in Major Championship history.

"It was a very special week," he said.

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After a few days back home with Amy, Mickelson has travelled to Forth Worth for a final run-out before he takes a two week break ahead of the US Open.

"It never crossed my mind to skip this week," he said. "It's an incredible tournament and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to compete, especially now that I've had a bit of a breakthrough.

"I also have a great pairing with Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger, a really great pairing. It's going to be a fun week and I hope to continue the same type of focus and performance as last week."

Mickelson is best price 70/1 with Bet365 to complete a third career win at Colonial this week.

In his last 10 first rounds on the course, he's shared the lead once and been second twice and tied sixth on another occasion - he's best price 66/1 with Unibet (six places) to repeat with a fast start.

And if you think it will be a bit too much, if the emotional, mental and physical drain is overwhelming, he's 6/4 to miss the cut with Bet365.

More from Mickelson's chat with the media:

On the future:

"One of two things are going to happen: either that's the last win and I'm going to have one of the most cherished victories of my career to look back on, or I may have found something that helps me stay a little bit more present, helps me focus throughout round a little bit longer and maybe I can execute at the highest level for a nice extended period of time now. Either way, they're both positive."

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On being inspired by other golfers:

"Seeing the way Jordan Spieth has come back, seeing how hard he's worked and not been getting the results that he wanted for a while. But being patient and working and working and continuing to do the right things.

"Every player goes through challenges. We saw it on the LPGA with Lydia Ko. For her to come back and play as well as she has, like that's an inspiration.

"Stewart Cink was huge, too. Two wins this year. Very inspiring person right there.

"(Richard Bland), that's a pretty impressive win that he had, and to stay at it and work hard as long as he did, to have that breakthrough, it's an awesome feeling.

"I get a lot of inspiration out of the young players, too. Bryson is a great example, coming at it from a different approach and having a lot of success doing it. It opens my eyes to opportunities to play better."

On being an inspiration himself:

"I don't know if they need to look me as inspiration. After many years of doing something, you have a lot of experience. You have a lot of knowledge and getting that out is the challenge. It might take a little bit more work, but there's no reason why we can't be our best later on in life."

READ MORE: How and why Phil Mickelson won the 2021 PGA Championship

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