By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – Phil Mickelson will be eligible for the PGA Tour’s senior circuit this year but the five-times major champion said on Wednesday he has not given it much thought and is focused instead on making the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Mickelson, who turns 50 in June, feels that a decision he made years ago to have a greater work ethic and commitment to physical health has left him in no rush to tee it up on the PGA Tour Champions with players he idolized as a child.
“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,” Mickelson told a news conference in La Quinta, California, where he is tournament host for this week’s The American Express.
“And I don’t often voice too many goals, but one of them is to make the Ryder Cup, 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.”
In 20 PGA Tour events last season, Mickelson made the cut 12 times and had two top-10 finishes, including a three-shot victory at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.
The left-hander will be in action over the next four weeks with starts at La Quinta followed by the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, the Saudi International and then back to Pebble Beach to defend his title.
“There’s a chance that if I do what I expect then I may end up competing for years out here. And there’s a chance that maybe I am misguided in my thinking and that I should move over,” said Mickelson, who added that he feels better now than 15 years ago.
“But a lot will be decided or seen in the first six months, because I feel like I’m ready to play.”
Apart from aiming for his first major title since the 2013 British Open, Mickelson is eager to earn a spot on Steve Stricker’s U.S. squad for the Sept. 25-27 Ryder Cup against Europe at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
Mickelson was one of four of Jim Furyk’s captain’s picks for the 2018 edition of the biennial event and he had an 0-2 record as Europe regained the Ryder Cup.
His overall Ryder Cup record is far from spectacular, having won only 18 of his 47 matches in 12 appearances, but he said he had let Stricker know how badly he wants to be on this year’s team.
He does not, however, want to get on by virtue of being a captain’s pick.
“If I play to the level that I believe I’m capable of I’ll make the team. But if not, you’ve got to give those spots to some younger guys that haven’t had the chance to play and compete the way I have,” said Mickelson.
“So I have six, eight months to get it done and I’ve got plenty of time, every bit of fair opportunity to go out and prove myself and play some great golf.
“So there’s not much he’s going to be able to do as a captain because I need to … earn my way on the team.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)