Mickelson aims for Ryder Cup, more ‘bombs’ as 50 nears

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Phil Mickelson said despite his fast-approaching 50th birthday he’s determined to stay on the United States (US) 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,” Mickelson said 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 then went nearly five years without a victory before taking the 2018 WGC Mexico Championship and last year added his fifth Pebble Beach Pro-Am title for his 44th career US PGA crown.

Phil Mickelson looks on during the third round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada. PHOTO: AFP

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 holders Europe on home soil at Whistling Straits 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.

“I had a great off season, 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, Saudi Arabia and 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.