Phil Mickelson Scrambling To Impress Tiger For President Cup Invite – Detroit News Watch

Phil Mickelson has never played this much golf this late in the year since the PGA Tour began a new season in October instead of January.

He’s never had this much of a reason.

 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 05: Phil Mickelson looks on after putting on the fourth green during the third round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin on October 5, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

Mickelson is running out of time to show why U.S. captain Tiger Woods should pick him for the Presidents Cup. At stake is a streak that is unlikely to be matched. Mickelson has played on 24 consecutive Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, qualifying for 20 of them. The last time he wasn’t on a team was 1993, the year Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were born.

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 20: Tiger Woods speaks with the media alongside Phil Mickelson (not seen) during a press conference before The Match at Shadow Creek Golf Course on November 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for The Match)

 

Through two tournaments, there are few signs of progress except for his weight loss.

As always with Mickelson, there is no shortage of optimism.

 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 05: Phil Mickelson hits off the third tee during the third round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin on October 5, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

How else to explain how a player can be so good for so long? How he could win his first PGA Tour event when he was in college and his most recent when he was a year away from being eligible for the PGA Tour Champions?

How he could go nearly 26 consecutive years among the top 50 in the world?

“The challenge of playing golf at the highest level brings out the best in me,” Mickelson said in Las Vegas after he tied for 61st in a tournament he had not played since 2005. “It forces me to get in the best shape, forces me to work hard and to focus on something positive, improving my game. It gives me a direction, and it’s been a big part of my life and I love it.

“It’s a fun challenge for me right now to play my best golf.”

 

MEDINAH, ILLINOIS – AUGUST 18: Phil Mickelson of the United States prepares to play from the tenth tee during the final round of the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club No. 3 on August 18, 2019 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

 

It doesn’t look like much fun, not based on the results.

Since winning at Pebble Beach in February, Mickelson has gone 18 consecutive tournaments out of the top 10, the longest drought of his career. The second-longest drought out of the top 10 was 16 events, all but three of those when he was finishing his senior year at Arizona State.

 

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 10: Phil Mickelson poses with the trophy after his victory during the continuation of the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 10, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

 

He began his 29th season on the PGA Tour by hitting consecutive shots out-of-bounds on the par-5 fifth hole at Silverado and making a quadruple-bogey 9, which led to a 75 and a missed cut in the Safeway Open. The next week in Las Vegas, just four shots out of the lead going into the weekend, Mickelson shot 74 in the third round on a TPC Summerlin course that yielded six scores of 63 or lower.

Mickelson finished too low to earn world ranking points in Las Vegas and dropped to No. 46.

Next up for him is the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea next week, and he has hinted strongly about playing the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, where he has won twice. That’s the final event before Woods makes his four captain’s picks.

 

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 20: Tiger Woods speaks with the media alongside Phil Mickelson (not seen) during a press conference before The Match at Shadow Creek Golf Course on November 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for The Match)

 

If Mickelson doesn’t perform well in either of those, he will be out of the top 50 by the end of the year. The last time he was in danger of that was the start of 2018. He was at No. 49 and then tied for fifth in the Phoenix Open. A month later, he won the Mexico Championship.

That’s what makes Mickelson so compelling, along with his sheer talent, imagination and willingness to take on any shot. Even at age 49, having gone seven months without so much as contending, there is no telling what Lefty will do next — or when.

It’s not just about playing in another Presidents Cup. That streak will end at some point, and it might take a win for Woods to justify picking him over the seven players ahead of Mickelson in the standings, a list that includes U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler and Woods, who has not ruled out being a playing captain at Australia’s Royal Melbourne in December.

 

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – AUGUST 23: Rickie Fowler of the United States plays his shot from the 17th tee during the second round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on August 23, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

 

Mickelson won’t accept anything less than what he believes he can do.

“There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to play at my best,” he said at the Safeway Open. “I’m physically able to do it, my game feels sharp, the touch is there, the elements are there and yet I haven’t been pulling it out. But I’m determined to turn that around.”

Mickelson first mentioned when he won in Mexico City last year that he wants to reach 50 wins on the PGA Tour. “Oh, I will. I’ll get there,” he said that day after No. 43. When he reached No. 44 at Pebble, he was a little more practical about it — not because he’s getting older, but because winning is getting harder.

 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 03: Phil Mickelson prepares to hit off the eighth tee during the first round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin on October 3, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

 

Lefty has never played more than twice in the fall since the PGA Tour went to the wraparound season in 2013. Now he’s playing at least three tournaments, probably four, with hopes of making it five at the Presidents Cup.

Beyond that?

In June, the U.S. Open returns to Winged Foot, where he made double bogey on the 18th hole to lose the U.S. Open, the only major he hasn’t won.

 

MAMARONECK, NY – JUNE 18: Colin Montgomerie of Scotland putts on the 18th green during the final round of the 2006 US Open Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club on June 18, 2006 in Mamaroneck, New York. Geoff Ogilvy won the Championship by one stroke. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

 

There’s always something.

This much is certain: Whether he gets there or not, Lefty will go down swinging.

 

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