It was going to happen sooner or later, and it turns out that it’s sooner. Phil Mickelson will play his first PGA Tour Champions event next week after his playoffs ended on Friday.
After missing the cut at this week’s first FedEx Cup playoffs event, the Northern Trust, and seeing his postseason abruptly come to an end, Phil Mickelson announced on Friday that he will make his debut on the PGA Tour Champions circuit this week. Mickelson’s first event will be the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National in Ridgedale, Missouri.
Mickelson, who turned 50 on June 16, has elected to play rather than practice as he prepares for the PGA Tour’s next major, the U.S. Open, which will be played September 17-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York. That event remains the one major championship that Mickelson has not won in his storied career. He has been runner-up on six occasions in the event.
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The rationale behind the decision is solid and it’s a good move for Mickelson for a couple of reasons. One, since his playoff run is over, the Champions Tour is a place where Lefty can continue to stay in the game, playing tournament golf rather than just practicing.
Secondly, it’s good for Mickelson to play a Champions event, just to get his feet wet and see what he will be up against in the coming years when he will undoubtedly play more on that tour. He can get a feel for how the tour is run, how the courses are set up and, most importantly, what his competition will be.
Mickelson has won 44 times on the PGA Tour, including five major titles. But the kid who first won on the regular tour as a 20-year-old amateur in 1991 has shown his age in recent years. In the last six seasons, he has won just twice.
This season on tour, Mickelson made 16 starts and nine made cuts. He was runner-up at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and was third at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
This week at the Northern Trust, Mickelson took himself out of the hunt by shooting a 74 on Thursday. He tried to rally on Friday, and did, but he came up three shots short of the cut line.
From Mickelson’s perspective, playing on the senior circuit is a win-win. It will allow him to keep playing and will also draw more attention to a tour that is sometimes overshadowed in the world of golf.