Mickelson eyeing record 3rd straight PGA Tour Champions win

Sports

FILE – Winner Phil Mickelson gets a pat on the back from Jeff Johnson, the caddie for Retief Goosen, during final round play in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, in this Sunday, October 18, 2020, file photo. Lefty is back to the Champions Tour this weekend and has a chance to become the first player to win his first three career starts on a PGA-sanctioned tour. (Joe Mahoney/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP, File)

Phil Mickelson made history 30 years ago in Tucson, becoming one of seven amateurs to win a PGA Tour event since 1940.

Lefty is back in Arizona this weekend and he has a chance to stand alone in the record book.

A winner in his first two PGA Tour Champions starts, Mickelson could become the first player to win his first three starts on a PGA Tour-sanctioned tour this weekend in the Cologuard Classic at Tucson National.

“I think it’s going to be a tough challenge for me here because the course allows you to play it a lot of different ways,” Mickelson said Thursday. “Although I’m going to play it pretty aggressively, I’m going to bring in a lot of trouble, too. If I can kind of eliminate some of the big misses, I think I’m going to make a lot of birdies.”

Mickelson had no trouble at Tucson National and TPC Starr Pass in 1991, overcoming a triple bogey in the final round to win the Northern Telecom Open as a 20-year-old amateur. The former Arizona State player is still the last amateur to win a PGA Tour event.

Mickelson returns to the desert with a chance to make it 3 for 3 on the senior tour. He won at Ozarks National in Missouri last August in his first start after turning 50 and followed that up with a win at the Country Club of Virginia in October.

Should he win in Tucson, the quest to make more history might have to wait a while. The five-time major champion still believes he can compete on the PGA Tour and his upcoming schedule includes The Players Championship, Honda Classic, Masters and possibly the Valero Texas Open.

Mickelson, who has 44 career PGA Tour wins, has made four cuts in eight events this 2021 season.

“I haven’t really looked at Champions Tour schedule,” he said. “I want to start playing on the regular tour with a little bit less stress. I’ve been really hard on myself when I make some mistakes and I’ve got to kind of ease up and play a little bit more free and a little bit lighter. If I can do that, I think I can shoot some pretty good scores out there.”

Mickelson will have to put up some low numbers on Tucson National’s Catalina Course with a deep field set to tee it up starting Friday.

Schwab Cup money leader Bernhard Langer is still going strong at 63 and is the defending champion after coming from four strokes back to win last year.

Four-time major champion Ernie Els is second in the points standings. Major champions Davis Love III and Mike Weir also are in the field, as is former University of Arizona player Jim Furyk, who won his first two senior starts last year.

“The guys are still competitive and they are still hungry, and that’s what we all enjoy,” Furyk said. “We enjoy the competition and maybe I don’t have to hit 320 yards anymore to do so. I’m enjoying it.”

They’re all vying to win the unique Conquistador helmet awarded to the winner in Tucson. Mickelson first put the trophy on his head after winning as an amateur — he cut himself in the process — and did it twice more after consecutive wins in 1995-96.

“It looks cool. I’ve got three of them that are wanting a fourth, they want a nice even number,” he said. “They want a foursome. They don’t like to go out as three, they’re always looking for a fourth, so that would be a nice fit.”

So would doing something no other golfer has done.

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