AKRON, Ohio – While there’s plenty to play for this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, it’s understandable that the focus of some players might drift a bit toward the major championship that looms next on the schedule.
For Phil Mickelson, though, the focus extends even further than that.
Mickelson returns to Akron on the heels of a missed cut at Royal Birkdale but in hopes of sparking a late-season surge, one that could see him extend his streak of representing the U.S. at team competitions.
Mickelson hasn’t missed a team event since the 1994 Presidents Cup, and he has been a participant in each of the 11 editions of the Presidents Cup. He went 4-1 as a captain’s pick in Korea in 2015, and while he enters this week ranked 17th in the American standings he still has aspirations of earning one of the 10 automatic spots on the squad at Liberty National.
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“I want to make that team,” Mickelson said. “It’s more than a streak as much as it is I just love those events. I love those weeks, I love the time with the guys and I just really cherish those memories.”
Mickelson’s current total of 3,244 points leaves him 579 points behind Charley Hoffman, who currently holds the 10th and final automatic spot with qualification running through the Dell Technologies Championship.
Mickelson is certainly on the radar of American captain Steve Stricker, who has spoken with Lefty in recent weeks as the Sept. 4 deadline draws near.
“I said, ‘Just give me some good reasons to pick you if you don’t finish in the top 10.’ And he told me flat out he’s going to make his way inside the top 10,” Stricker said. “He feels like he’s playing that well, he just needs to score a little bit better and see some putts go in. But he’s not worried about sneaking his way into the top 10, so you like to hear that as a captain.”