Phil Mickelson struggles with focus as Presidents Cup hopes hang in balance
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 11/08/17 8:53pm
Phil Mickelson missed the cut by a distance at the PGA Championship and admitted he needs to regain his focus on the course if he is to earn his 12th consecutive appearance at the Presidents Cup.
Mickelson's 100th career major turned out to be one of his worst as disappointing rounds of 79 and 74 at Quail Hollow left him outside the top 130 on 11 over par.
The 47-year-old entered the week ranked 17th in the Team USA standings, with only the top 10 earning the right to take on the International team in New Jersey at the end of September, while skipper Steve Stricker will add two captain's picks.
The first two events of the forthcoming FedExCup Play-Offs are the final two qualifying events for the competition, but Mickelson believes he is playing well enough to climb the standings and clinch his place on Stricker's team without having to rely on a wildcard.
"I can play well in those, I have a chance to get on the team on my own. If I play well in them and don't make it, I have a chance to be a pick, but I've got to play well in them is the thing," said Mickelson, who has featured in every Presidents Cup since the inaugural contest in 1994.
"I'm not searching, it's not like I'm hitting the ball crooked, I'm just hitting it in the wrong spots. I'm not really controlling my thought process, where I want the ball to go, and I'm not really focused out there. I'm having a tough time visualising the shots, controlling my thoughts and not letting it wander to what I don't want to have happen.
"On the range, I'm having some of the best sessions, I'm swinging the club fine, striking it pretty good and yet I'm not controlling my thought process out there. So if I have a short putt, it's not a technical issue, I'm just not seeing the ball go in and staying committed.
"I'm just losing focus on every shot, but I have a week to work on it and see if I can get it dialled in. I don't feel like I did two years ago where I'm searching for my game or I'm trying to find it or trying to strike it well. I have great practice sessions, driving it fine. I'm just not really focused when I'm out there."
Stricker did make it safely through to the weekend after adding a composed 70 to his opening 75, and the home captain admitted he would like to see Mickelson in his team but warned he would be looking at form over experience when it comes to naming his wildcards.
"We had a chat in Akron last week and Phil told me he wants to be on this team more than anything," said Stricker. "I would love to see him on the team but, just like anybody else, I have got to see who is playing well at the time.
"I know he's struggling a little bit right now, but I told him I would like to see him play well here on out to show me something basically, and that doesn't sound right coming from a guy like me talking to Phil! But I know how important he is on the team, how good he is with the young guys and in the locker room and that kind of stuff.
"He's got a couple of events, probably in the Play-Offs, and that's all we're going to have before we make the picks, so hopefully he can get hot in there.
"Really we need the best guys playing the best at the end of the year going forward. That's what we're going to be looking at. It's going to be a team decision with all the assistant captains and we're all going to be on the same page in who we're going to pick."