Phil Mickelson has a flair for the dramatic, evidenced on Thursday by his attempt to hit through an out-of-bounds net with a right-handed swing. Those theatrics include his playing commitments as well.
Following a poor performance at the 2018 Ryder Cup—Le Golf National’s tight confines did a number on the 48-year-old accuracy, or lack thereof—Mickelson told reporters at the Safeway Open that he was finished playing tracks with brutal rough. “I’m going to play courses that are playable, and I can play aggressive, attacking, make lots of birdies type of golf I like to play.”
Though Mickelson continues to be a formidable player in 2019, already notching a win and silver medal this season, he is sticking to his statement. He passed on his hometown event at Torrey Pines, and made waves in February when mentioning he might pass on the Players Championship.
“It’s not one I feel like I have to play,” Mickelson told GolfChannel.com at Riviera. “It’s not a must-play for me because I’m 48 and I’ve played it 25 times and I’ve already won it. If I were young and early in my career, I would say yes because I think it’s as close to a major as it can get. But it’s not the best course for me.”
Friday afternoon is the tour’s deadline for commitments, and when 5:00 p.m. comes this evening, Mickelson’s name will be in the field for the tour’s flagship event next week. That doesn’t mean he’ll tee it up at TPC Sawgrass.
Following his Friday round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Mickelson said he remains “up in the air” about playing next week. “I’m going to go play a practice round Tuesday, I’ll play nine and take a look,” Mickelson said. “And, I mean, I want to play it, so I would most likely—but if I hit it like this, it’s pointless, so I have to figure something out.”
Mickelson said his reluctance is partly due to Sawgrass’ set-up, with the looming Masters always weighing on the decision.
“When you go to Augusta, I feel like I don’t have to be perfect, and so I end up making better swings, I hit a lot more good shots and my misses are playable,” Mickelson said. “And then you get out here, and the fairways are tight, the rough is thicker, and then I start to steer it and I start to make some horrific swings. I haven’t hit some of the shots I hit today in a long time, but when I get a little steery and don’t swing, I try to guide it, I hit some terrible shots. The Players is a place you can make some steery swings.”
That may seem like an 11th-hour call. Conversely, compared to his decision at the 2017 U.S. Open, when Phil wrestled with flying from his daughter’s graduation to Milwaukee on the day of the first round, this barely registers as drama.