ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Phil Mickelson will be at the TPC Sawgrass next week for The Players Championship, the signature event on the PGA Tour.
Still to be determined is whether he plays.
Mickelson remained coy Friday after a 78 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational whether he will compete next week. He turns 49 in June and has said it does him no good at this stage in his career to play courses that don’t suit him. At issue is big rough, and with The Players moving to March, he’s not sure what he’s getting.
“I’m going to go play a practice round Tuesday,” Mickelson said. “I’ll play nine and take a look. I mean, I want to play it, so I would most likely … but if I hit it like this, it’s pointless. So I’ve got to figure something out.”
Mickelson has missed The Players Championship only twice since he joined the PGA Tour. Once was in 1994 as he recovered from a broken leg from skiing, the other was in 2003 the week after his third child was born.
He won in 2007, the first year it moved to May.
Mickelson already missed big and beefy Torrey Pines this year, even though it’s his hometown event. He says he plans to play 20 tournaments this year, which would be his fewest since 2010.
“I want to play the ones that give me the best chance of winning,” Mickelson said. “If I don’t play there next week, I’ll add something else. And if I do play there, I’m going to take away something else. So I’m going to end up at 20. It’s just going to be how my game feels, how it looks. If it’s softer, it’s a lot easier to play.”
He said if Sawgrass gets rain or is playing softer, “I would expect I would play.”
After the Players, there are three tournaments left before the Masters. Mickelson typically plays the week before majors, but that was before the Houston Open had its spot before Augusta National taken away. Mickelson said two weeks ago it was unlikely he would play in San Antonio at the Valero Texas Open.
He was not using Bay Hill as a litmus test.
Mickelson had two double bogeys from wayward drives on Friday, one that went out-of-bounds on the par-5 16th, another that went into water way left of the fairway on the par-4 eighth hole. He made only one birdie.
Bay Hill has been dry this week, and a fast course makes the fairways play tighter. The rough is thick enough to put a premium on accuracy.
“When you go to Augusta, I feel like I don’t have to be perfect and so I end up making better swings, I hit a lot more good shots and my misses are playable,” Mickelson said. “And then you get out here, and the fairways are tight, the rough is thicker, and then I start to steer it and I start to make some horrific swings. I haven’t hit some of the shots I hit today in a long time, but when I get a little steery and don’t swing, I try to guide it, I hit some terrible shots.
“The Players is a place you can make some steery swings,” he said.
Mickelson has missed the cut five of the last six years at The Players. The next question is whether makes his tee time.