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'Optimistic' Phil playing for a place in Paris

Tim Mickelson and Phil Mickelson at the 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Getty Images

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The Ryder Cup is eight months away, but it isn't so far from Phil Mickelson’s thoughts.

After a 6-under-par 65 at Monterey Peninsula got him into contention at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Friday, Mickelson said he has been working to get himself back in the Ryder Cup points race.

“I have made it known that one of my goals is to get on the Ryder Cup team again and go to Paris, and I need to get off to a good start,” Mickelson said. “So, last week was a good kick start, and carrying the momentum over to a place here, that I love and where I have had some success, is a lot of fun.”

Mickelson tied for fifth last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He moved up to 21st in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings with that finish. The top eight at the conclusion of the PGA Championship in Augusta automatically qualify for the team.

With his second-round 65 following his opening 69 at Spyglass Hill, Mickelson moved just three shots off the lead. He is looking to win this event for the fifth time and claim a 43rd PGA Tour title, his first since winning The Open almost five years ago.


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He will play Saturday and Sunday at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

After opening the new wraparound season with a tie for third at the Safeway Open in the fall, Mickelson missed the cut in his first start this year, the CareerBuilder Challenge. He wasn’t much better tying for 45th at the Farmers Insurance Open in his next start, but he’s finding form now, teeing it up for a fourth consecutive week.

“I was expecting to play like this the first couple of weeks, so the first couple of weeks was a little disappointing,” Mickelson said. “But now the scores are starting to come out. I'm able to get out of the mechanics of it and just start playing the round and hitting shots. I'm very optimistic about this weekend, and I'm optimistic about the year.”

Mickelson’s iron play was strong Friday - he hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation - but he could have gone even lower given all the good birdie chances he gave himself.

“I love Monterey Peninsula,” he said. “The fairways are wide and they feel pretty easy to hit. I hit a number of fairways and was able to make a lot of birdies. It's fun to be in the mix. It's fun to go over to Pebble Beach now and play two rounds on the weekend, knowing that I have a chance and being in the thick of it.”