PGA Tour

Mickelson aims for 4th success in the desert

2019-01-31 09:50
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson (AP)

Phoenix - Phil Mickelson played college golf in Arizona and he would like nothing more than to become the Phoenix Open's first four-time winner in the same place where he excelled as an amateur.

The PGA Tour makes it lone stop in Arizona this week and the 48-year-old, who attended Arizona State University on a golf scholarship, will be making his record 30th start.

He won the last of his three titles here in 2013 by four strokes. In his opening round he sizzled to a 60 and almost managed a rare 59 but his putt on the ninth lipped out.

Mickelson is playing with confidence after his near victory in the Desert Classic 10 days ago.

"The time has really flown by... 30 years, gosh," Mickelson said.

"I remember when I was in college, it doesn't seem that long ago that I was playing in my first Phoenix Open.

"What a great feeling I experienced with the crowd and the many memories that I've had here. It's a special place."

This is the only event on the Tour's west coast swing that doesn't take place in California.

The tournament has finished in a playoff each of the past three years with Japan's Hideki Matsuyama winning two of those. The defending champ is Gary Woodland.

Organizers put Mickelson, Matsuyama and Woodland together for the first two rounds as the trio have won this event a combined half-dozen times, including the past three years. 

The top three players in the FedEx Cup standings - Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar and Woodland - are all competing.

While Tiger Woods won't be making an appearance, the field is strong and features 10 of the top 30 players in the world, including sixth-ranked favourite Jon Rahm.

Rahm, who like Mickelson attended Arizona State, is riding a hot streak after finishing in the top 10 in three straight events. He is making is third consecutive start on the west coast swing.

"It's a great start to the year," Rahm said.

"This week for me is definitely really, really high on my rankings.

"I played good as an amateur and pro, I was in the final group last year, so hopefully this is the one week where everything kind of clicks."

Two-time champ Matsuyama is hoping to get his game back on track at the TPC Scottsdale when play begins on Thursday. 

He was forced to withdraw last year in the opening round with a wrist injury that eventually saw him miss six weeks of the season.

One of the tour's most well-attended events, the Phoenix Open is known for the raucous crowds at the 16th hole that helped boost attendance to 700 000 in 2018.

Read more on:    phil mickelson  |  golf


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