For the first time in 25 years, Phil Mickelson was stuck watching the Presidents Cup from home in December.
The longtime PGA Tour pro has been a staple for the U.S. Team in international competitions since he made his first team in 1994, and hadn’t missed either a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup event since.
Though snapping that streak hurt, Mickelson has his goal set for the season.
He wants to not just make the 2020 Ryder Cup team, but earn his spot.
“[U.S. Captain Steve Stricker] 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, via ESPN. “I’m at the point where I’ve got to earn my spot.
“There’s 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. But if not, you’ve got to give those spots to some younger guys who haven’t had the chance to play and compete the way I have.”
Mickelson had a good start to the season last year, though that success was brief.
He won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, marking his 44th career victory on the Tour, less than a month after a runner-up finish at the Desert Classic. From that point on, though, Mickelson missed the cut seven times and only finished inside the top 35 once. He missed the cut at The Open Championship and failed to finish better than T52 at both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, too.
Mickelson has slid all the way to No. 79 in the World Golf Rankings after starting the year at No. 26, too, the first time he’s slid out of the top 50 since 1994.
Mickelson is set to make his 2020 debut this week at The American Express in La Quinta, California — previously known as the Desert Classic, where Mickelson nearly won last year. While his schedule for the season isn’t solidified yet, as he’s not eligible for several key events yet, Mickelson is more than ready to prove himself.
“I have six, eight months to get it done and I’ve got plenty of time, every bit of a fair opportunity to go out and prove myself and play some great golf,” Mickelson said, via ESPN.
Mickelson not ready for Champions Tour jump
Mickelson will turn 50 this summer, and will then be eligible to play on the Champions Tour instead.
While that Tour is far less demanding physically as the PGA Tour, Mickelson isn’t ready to make the jump just yet.
He can still hold his own.
“When I stop hitting bombs, I'll play the Champions Tour,” Mickelson said, via the PGA Tour. “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. Usually as guys get in their 40s they regress. I had a five, six mile an hour club head speed increase last year. A little bit of commitment in the gym, a little bit of work ethic and all of a sudden there's no reason that physically I can't do today what I did 15, 20 years ago. In fact, I'm doing more.”
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