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Mickelson makes Ryder Cup statement

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KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – If American Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III had any doubts, Phil Mickelson addressed them Friday with his strong play at the PGA Championship.

Playing alongside Love, Mickelson managed his way through the heavy winds on the Kiawah Island Ocean Course with a 1-under-par 71. How good was that in 25 mph gusts? Only Vijay Singh (69) and Michael Hoey (70) posted better scores in the morning wave. Mickelson, Singh and Hoey were the only players to break par in that wave.

Mickelson, 42, is on the bubble on the American Ryder Cup points list. He is No. 8 with the top eight at the conclusion of the PGA Championship automatically qualifying. Though Mickelson seems sure to be at least a captain’s pick, his game hasn’t been the sharpest this summer. He recently endured a spell of failing to break par in 10 consecutive PGA Tour events.

“I think [Ryder Cup standing] would be on anybody’s mind,” Mickelson said. “It’s been 18 years since I’ve had to worry about qualifying for a team. I just felt like if I could come out and play a little bit better, it would take care of itself.”

Depending on how the afternoon wave fares, Mickelson may have a lot more on his mind than making the Ryder Cup. He could be right in the weekend hunt to win his fifth major championship. He is at even-par 144.

“I don’t know where that will be relative to the lead [at day’s end], but I think if anyone shoots better than 4 under, better than Vijay, that’s going to be a heck of a play this afternoon.

“If I’m within four shots or so heading into the weekend, that’s a really good position, where I can actually feel my game getting better.”