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Phil Mickelson hints he may play more on Champions Tour

Updated January 26, 2021 - 2:23 pm

Have we seen the last of Phil Mickelson on the PGA Tour?

The answer is not quite yet, but even Lefty is finally acknowledging his time is running short.

In his new role over the weekend as host of The American Express, the longtime PGA Tour event in Palm Springs, Mickelson hinted he may be headed to the Champions Tour more often this year. After turning 50 last summer, Mickelson played twice on the senior circuit, winning both times.

Mickelson has 44 career victories on the PGA Tour, but only two over the past eight years. Competing with the youngsters is getting more difficult, even on courses like those in Palm Springs, where he has won twice. After missing the cut last week, the thought of moving on is growing stronger.

“I’m excited to start the year and see if I’m able to continue playing at the highest level,” he said at the start the tournament. “If I am, I’m going to really try to play more events on the PGA Tour and make a push hopefully for the Ryder Cup.

“But if I don’t play well early on, I’ll start to re-evaluate things and maybe play a few more events on the Champions Tour, because what’s fun for me is competing, getting in contention, and trying to win tournaments.”

He wasn’t close in Palm Springs, missing the cut by six shots. But he did have a remarkable round on Friday. Playing his 2,201st round on tour, Mickelson for the first time made 18 pars in a single round.

That’s quite a contrast to Patrick Cantlay, the two-time Shriners Hospitals for Children Open champion who played the weekend in 18-under, making 20 birdies over two days. That tied the best score in relation to par over the final two rounds in the PGA Tour event while breaking the mark for birdies on the weekend.

For Mickelson, the deciding factor in his future plans could be next month. He’ll play Pebble Beach, where he has five wins, and Scottsdale, where he has three wins. If he can’t perform well on those venues, a permanent jump to the Champions Tour is probably in the cards.

Calling All Volunteers

The upcoming Paiute Las Vegas Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour is looking for volunteers to work the event, which takes place April 12-18 at Paiute Golf Resort.

Tournament Director Josh Franklin said organizers are looking for walking scorers, marshals, shuttle drivers, parking and admission personnel and more.

Volunteers must pay $70 for the official uniform (polo shirt, pullover, hat), and in return they will get meals on the days they work, an on-site parking pass, discounts on merchandise and credit toward a round of golf at Paiute post tournament.

Anyone interested can fill out a form at the tournaments website, www.PaiuteChampionship.com .

Korn Ferry Tour and tournament officials have not yet determined if spectators will be allowed at the event. That decision will come much closer to the start of the event based on where Nevada and the country are in fighting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Close Call for Kang

Las Vegan Danielle Kang fell just short of a season-opening win on the LPGA Tour, losing a playoff to Jessica Korda on Sunday in the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.

Kang came close to accomplishing something rarely seen on any tour. She played the first 68 holes of the tournament without making a bogey before a three-putt on No. 15 ended the string. For the tournament, she made a remarkable 25 birdies and the lone blemish.

Korda matched the second lowest round in LPGA history on Saturday, an 11-under 60 that put her into contention. The round included seven birdies and an eagle during a back-nine 28.

Greg Robertson is a freelance reporter who covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at robertsongt@gmail.com

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