Phil Mickelson is desperate to don the Team USA colours again
Mickelson kick-started his new season with a respectable four-under-par 68 on the opening day of the PGA Tour’s Career Builder Challenge being staged over three courses at the La Quinta resort some three hour’s drive to the east of Los Angeles.
The five-time major winner had been in doubt for the $5.8million (£4.7million) event right up until Tuesday night after a first hernia operation on October 19th and then a second on December 12th.
However, the 46-year old dispelled any doubts on his fitness to be four under after nine holes ahead of an even par inward half.
Phil Mickelson first played in the Ryder Cup back in 1995
“I thought it was a phenomenal round,” he said.
“I struck it horrible, but I scored out of my mind so I am happy with that.
“I only played my first round on Saturday and I’ve been able to work out just the last two weeks.
“In the last three months, I haven’t been able to do much, so I came here with the game rusty, but the body feels good.”
In fact, Mickelson had not competed since helping steer the USA to victory in last October’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
And since then Mickelson was a member of the committee that chose Jim Furyk to replace Davis Love 111 as the American captain for the series of matches in late 2018 in Paris.
Ryder Cup 2016: Team Europe
Tue, September 27, 2016
Express Sport runs through the golfers who will represent Team Europe in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club, Minnesota
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Express Sport runs through the golfers who will be representing Team Europe in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club, Minnesota
Now after a first round of 2017, and with the 2018 Ryder Cup still some 21 months away, Mickelson already declaring his intentions, and given he holds the record of having played in 11 straight Ryder Cup’s since making his debut in 1995.
What hurts Mickelson though is that five of those 11 encounters (1997, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014) were on European soil when the USA Team were beaten.
“I’ve never won in Europe and that would mean the world to me,” he added.
Jim Furyk will be Team USA Ryder Cup captain in France in 2018
“That’s a definitive goal and I look forward to being on that team and going over there to France and trying to retain the cup.
“It will be a real challenge, but I look forward to it.”
Mickelson also is just two matches short of breaking Nick Faldo’s record of 46 for the most in the history of the Ryder Cup.
As well, his 18 victories are just four behind Arnold Palmer’s record of 22 while he already holds the US team record with eight wins in fourballs matches, and one more than that of Palmer and Lanny Wadkins.