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Phil still feels he belongs with the best

China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-17 09:33
Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the BMW Championship golf tournament at Medinah Country Club in Medinah, IL, US, on Aug 18, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Veteran hopeful of playing on PGA Tour 'for years' as he targets Ryder Cup spot

Phil Mickelson says despite his fast-approaching 50th birthday he's determined to stay on the PGA Tour while he can "bomb" golf balls and yearns for a Ryder Cup berth.

"When I stop hitting bombs I'll play the (50-and-over) Champions Tour," said Mickelson, nicknamed "Lefty" for his left-handed grip, on Wednesday.

"But I'm hitting some crazy bombs right now. No, I still have speed. There's no reason I couldn't play out here. I hit the ball every bit as far."

Mickelson, who turns 50 on June 16, spoke on the eve of the American Express tournament, where he serves as host. The three-course event in the California desert will be contested at the PGA West Nicklaus and Stadium layouts and at LaQuinta Country Club.

The US left-hander won the 2013 British Open and then went nearly five years without a victory before taking the 2018 WGC Mexico Championship. Last year, he added his fifth Pebble Beach Pro-Am title for his 44th career US PGA crown.

But he failed to qualify for last month's Presidents Cup in Australia, the first US team event Mickelson has missed since the 1993 Ryder Cup.

It has made him extra hungry to qualify for this year's Ryder Cup against holder Europe on home soil at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, but so far Mickelson ranks 28th on the points list, 20 spots below the last automatic qualifier.

"I don't often voice too many goals, but one of them is to make the Ryder Cup," Mickelson said. "It should be a pretty obvious goal so I need to play enough tournaments out here and play well to be able to achieve that particular goal."

Mickelson can make an impression on US captain Steve Stricker this week but he isn't seeking a captain's selection.

"He knows how bad I want to be on the team, but I don't want to be a pick. I've got to earn it," Mickelson said.

"I'm at the point where I've got to earn my spot. There are eight spots out there and if I play well I'll make it. If I play to the level that I believe I'm capable of I'll make the team."

Mickelson had "a rough few months" after Pebble Beach last year but looks forward to his 2020 debut this week.

'Best I've felt in years'

"I had a great offseason, I'm excited to start the year," Mickelson said.

"I'm curious as probably anybody is to see how well I play. I've tried to address a lot of weaknesses and my motivation is back-this is the best I've felt in years, maybe even decades-and physically there's nothing holding me back from playing some of my best golf.

"So now it's on me. Can I get the best out of me again? I believe I can, I'm excited for the challenge. And I respect and understand how talented and great players these young guys are, but I also enjoy the challenge of beating them and I think I'm ready to do that."

Mickelson will play at Torrey Pines in San Diego, Saudi Arabia and then defend at Pebble Beach but hasn't set much of a schedule after that.

He could play Champions Tour events after he makes yet another try at completing a career Grand Slam by winning the US Open-an event where he has finished second a record six times.

"It's nice to have the option to move over to another tour, but it's also nice to have the challenge of competing out here," he said.

"I'm curious to see how the first six months go. And then I'll start to weigh some decisions. But there's a chance that if I do what I expect then I may end up competing for years out here.

"There's a chance maybe I'm misguided in my thinking and I should move over. But a lot will be decided or seen in the first six months, because I feel like I'm ready to play."

Agence France-Presse

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