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Phil and NY: The love affair continues at Bethpage

Phil Mickelson
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Phil Mickelson relished renewing his love affair with New York this week.

With The Barclays beginning Thursday at Bethpage Black, Mickelson can barely contain his enthusiasm for the event. While Mickelson has never won a PGA Tour event in New York, he has made terrific runs.

Mickelson has four second-place finishes in U.S. Opens staged in New York. He finished second at Bethpage Black in 2002 and ’09 and was second at Shinnecock Hills in ’04. He also was second at Winged Foot in ’06.

New Yorkers have adopted Mickelson as one of their own in the past, and he is obviously eager to fuel the advantage that gives him again this week.

“I love this area,” Mickelson told Golf Channel. “I love the golf courses. I love the people. I love how knowledgeable they are about sports. They just get it.

“My kids and my wife get this new energy when they come here. They are in Manhattan right now with some friends. This city just brings out a whole different energy level for them. I just love exposing them to all the culture New York has to offer.”

Mickelson, who has not been shy expressing complaints about Rees Jones’ redesigns in the past, even raved about Jones’ work at Bethpage Black. Jones did redesigns there in ’98 and ’08 before U.S. Opens.

“I love the course,” Mickelson said. “Rees Jones did a great job renovating it and making the greens a reward if you hit a good shot. These greens are spectacular. Tee to green, it’s very demanding, very challenging. This complex here has meant so much to the game of golf. This course is really special to the game.”

The Barclays is being played at Bethpage for the first time. The event has been played at other New York and New Jersey venues in the past. It was played at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey last year.

“This is the best thing that has happened to the Barclays event because of the type of excitement, the type of support the community gives it at Bethpage,” Mickelson said. “It is different than any place we’ve been. I just think it elevates the status of the tournament and elevates its credibility.”