Phil Mickelson said at the outset of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season he would play fewer events, shunning some events he had played in the past, particularly those with difficult setups or played on courses that didn't suit his game.
Apparently one of those tournaments is The Players Championship, or at least it could be. Mickelson said ahead of the 2019 Genesis Open he was giving consideration to skipping The Players Championship, the PGA Tour's crown jewel and the closest thing to a major the tour owns.
“It’s not one I feel like I have to play,” Mickelson said. “It’s not a must-play for me because I’m 48 and I’ve played it 25 times and I’ve already won it. If I were young and early in my career, I would say yes because I think it’s as close to a major as it can get. But it’s not the best course for me.”
Mickelson won The Players in 2007, the first year it was held in May up until 2018, but he hasn't been particularly effective at TPC Sawgrass' Players Stadium Course over the years -- regardless of the event being played in March or May. Aside from the win, he has just two career top-10 finishes in March at the home of the PGA Tour, and last year he shot 79-73 to miss the cut handily. He's missed the cut there five of the last six years.
“I just haven’t played well there,” he said. “I’m curious to see how it goes this year, because the course is going to be a totally different one than what we saw in May. So I’m curious to see if it’s better for me or not.”
Mickelson is playing this week for the fourth time in five weeks after saying last October he would be looking at scaling back.
“I might play in spurts like I’m playing now, five out of six on courses that are very well-suited for me, and I might end up taking a month off at points and at places where it’s not,” he said. “It’s kind of a nice, refreshing freedom if you will to not feel the need to play where I’m expected, but to play where is best-suited for me.”
With a win in his pocket and a make-up start this week at Riviera that he added after missing the cut in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Mickelson, like many top players, is looking for ways to break up what has become a condensed schedule of huge events from February through August. He defends next week at the WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City, and then he has to decide which, if any, Florida Swing events he'll play in preparation for the Masters.