Coming off one of the worst years of his career and approaching his 50th birthday, Phil Mickelson has a positive outlook about 2020 – and his goal is to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Mickelson is making his first start of the new year this week at the American Express in LaQuinta, Calif., an event where he is now serving as tournament host.
“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 of U.S. captain Steve Stricker, who was an assistant to captain Tiger Woods at last month’s Presidents Cup. “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. So 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 did not do that for most of 2019. After winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for his 44th PGA Tour title, he had just one top-20 finish the rest of the year and missed six cuts, sliding from 17th in the world to out of the top 50 for the first time since 1994.
For the first time since his first Presidents Cup in 1994, Mickelson failed to make or be picked for a U.S. Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team.
He is now ranked 79th and currently not eligible for World Golf Championship events in Mexico and the Match Play. For that reason, he said, his schedule is up in the air, although the next four weeks are set with the American Express, the Farmers Insurance Open, the Saudi International and his defense at Pebble Beach.
One thing that is certain: for now, there will be no Champions Tour after he turns 50 in June. Part of that is his desire to make the Ryder Cup team. And then. . .
“When I stop hitting bombs I’ll play the Champions Tour, but I’m hitting some crazy bombs right now,” he said. “I still have speed, there’s no reason I couldn’t play out here. I hit the ball every bit as far.”