Most of us thought we were winding down with Phil Mickelson. Now the left-hander believes he's getting back to his best as he approaches 50

Phil Mickelson is like the itch that few of us can stop scratching. Just when we thought we were done with him from a playing point of view and could settle back to enjoying Phil for being Phil via his #PhiresidewithPhil on Twitter, he starts making noises about his game returning and looking better than ever.

And all at the age of 49. Just when you should be getting excited about filling the wheelbarrow on the seniors’ tour, Mickelson is eyeing up a 13th straight Presidents Cup appearance.

Following the ‘hard reset’ in July, which included fasting for six days, Mickelson has continued to shake off the pounds, around 30 at the last count, and, while there is a bit less talk of ‘hitting bombs’, the left-hander is seeing signs that there is still plenty of game in there.

Last week at the Shriners, admittedly a low-scoring week, he put together three rounds in the 60s for the first time since his win at Pebble in February.

During the week he told reporters to scrub what had gone on in the interim and that he’s now happier on and off the course.

Also, in the space of a week’s worth of post-round interviews, we heard that he’s finding more fairways – “I’m just hitting these little low cuts. They’re not going very far but they’re in play” – his irons are more dialled in, and he also has a new putter – “It’s a little bit more stable and it helps me from six, eight feet in, if I make those putts then I’m going to have a lot of chances to win tournaments.”

We’ve heard all of this before of course, if you’re a fan it’s part of his charm, but where you can’t quibble is the shape of him which, wherever you stand on Mickelson, is a remarkable turnaround.

“When I first lost 25, 30 pounds I ended up not being as strong but I’ve been in the gym now for the last quite a few weeks. The amount that I lift is now significantly more than it was before.

“I noticed in the pro-ams the last four, five, six holes usually I’m limping home. I have a bunch more energy. Actually eating less has helped me have more energy. I find the more I eat the more lethargic I get.”

Phil Mickelson

As for his now famous calves – imagine talking about such a thing a year ago – they might be the real key to getting his now thin face back in the winner’s circle. Look good, feel good, and all that…

“When you have calves like these you can’t help but have high self-esteem, walk around with incredible confidence. Whether I’m wearing shorts or not and they’re hidden I know that they’re there, and so I hold my chest out.”

Come the end of the week in Vegas he signed off speaking in a tone not dissimilar to another great of the game who surprised us all when we had all written him off.

“I didn’t obviously compete but the road back to playing well is a process, and today or this week was a good start on that process.”