In addition to being a scratch golfer, Phil Mickelson is a scratch needler and he trolled Tiger Woods and the 78-man field at the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek on Thursday in classic Phil fashion.
During his pre-tournament press conference at this week’s PGA Tour Champions event, the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, Mickelson was asked why he didn’t seek a sponsor’s exemption into the junior circuit’s limited-field, no-cut $9.5 million event in Las Vegas.
“I felt like it would be better for me to play here,” he said. “I think last time I played at Shadow Creek, even if I beat all 78 guys, it would still be a letdown. I made so much more last time I played, that I just didn’t see the benefit. Sorry.”
That was more than a subtle jab at Woods, who Mickelson defeated at Shadow Creek in the original playing of The Match on Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, and took home a cool $9 million.
Phil’s gonna Phil, and in his world when last time you won nearly as much as this week’s tournament purse, you might as well just go try to beat up on some guys your own age.
There’s a definite possibility that Phil is only playing the Champions event so he could be asked this question and give this answer. https://t.co/NQwnSkiTgt
— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) October 16, 2020
Mickelson is making his first start in the state of Virginia since 1993, and second start on the PGA Tour Champions this week. Having captured the Charles Schwab Series in September, Mickelson is trying to match Jim Furyk, who won his first two starts since turning 50. Mickelson had this to say on the difference between playing the PGA Tour and the senior circuit: “The courses we play are really long. We have 520 par 4s out on the regular tour, we have 520 par 5s out here, so it’s a different beast.”
Mickelson also praised PGA Tour Champions as a good preparation ground for playing against the younger pros, where he will continue to keep his focus for the time being.
“I think that this tour helps me quite a bit, more so than I realized when I played at Ozark. It helps me free up, work on the areas that I need to work on in my game,” he said. “It’s very difficult to be competitive on the regular tour. I’ve had a couple good finishes, but it’s hard to be competitive week in and week out unless you drive the ball incredibly long and straight. The long part I’m OK with, it’s the straight part that I struggle with. This tour is a little bit more forgiving, the rough isn’t quite as long, the fairways aren’t quite as tight. It’s still very challenging, but it’s not as penalizing as the regular tour’s been.
“So it gives me a chance to work on a few things and compete. I mean, you have to be in the thick of it and feel those nerves and compete for a championship to really be able to get better, and I’m able to compete out here and get my skills a little bit sharper.”
Mickelson said he plans to play the Zozo Championship next week and the Houston Open in the lead up to the Masters.