Mickelson confirms schedule cuts will come –but not before the Majors

“I don’t want to enter a tournament where I feel unprepared, and that’s the baseline I’m going to use,” says British Open champion

Phil Mickelson  and Peter Wong of HSBC during the pro-am event prior to the WGC   HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China. Photo:  Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson and Peter Wong of HSBC during the pro-am event prior to the WGC HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China. Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Wed, Oct 30, 2013, 17:19

Phil Mickelson plans to play in the week before each of the Major championships next year despite making as yet unspecified cuts to his overall schedule for 2014, the British Open champion said yesterday.

The 43-year-old American said he would compete in Houston before the Masters, in Memphis before the US Open, in Scotland before the British Open and in Akron before the PGA Championship.

Mickelson has clearly given particular thought to his preparations for the US Open, the only Major missing from his collection and one in which he has been runner-up six times.

Victory at the Pinehurst No. 2 course next June would make him only the sixth player to complete the modern Grand Slam and he is determined not to go to North Carolina underprepared.

“I like to have a three-week stretch heading into the Majors, although next year the lead-up to the US Open will be the only three-week stretch,” he said on the eve of the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament.

“Playing Memphis the week before is very helpful because they are very similar grasses as Pinehurst, with the exception of the greens.

“So I plan to play Memphis (St Jude Classic) and I plan to play Memorial the week before that and I’ll have some time in Pinehurst prior to that.”


Chopping block
Left unsaid was which tournaments the five-times Major winner would scrap, although his comments suggested the PGA Tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup play-offs might be on the chopping block.

“It really took a lot out of me these last couple of months where we played nine out of 12 weeks, and it was difficult for me to get the proper preparation for each tournament.”

“I don’t want to enter a tournament where I feel unprepared, and that’s the baseline I’m going to use as I build my schedule next year,” he added.

The success US Masters champion and world number two Adam Scott has enjoyed since cutting his schedule to the bone has not escaped the attention of his rivals.

While Mickelson has the latitude to make cuts, European players such as Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who play both the European and PGA Tours, do not have as much room for manoeuvre if they want to remain eligible for the Ryder Cup.

“I know every decision that Adam Scott makes is based around what is going to help him leave a legacy and win more Major championships,” said US Open champion Rose.

“He’s pretty ruthless with that decision-making and it’s paid off. Cutting back is something I’m trying to find the right balance to.”

Poulter, like Mickelson a former winner of the HSBC Champions, said he would play at a similar number of tournaments next year. “I won’t be changing my schedule an awful lot,” he said. “I’ll still maintain my two cards and I need to do that because obviously I want to play the Ryder Cup.”