Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Phil:"I've Got To Get My Butt In Gear"

It was pointed out to Phil Mickelson Tuesday, in case he needed reminding, that no golfer has ever spent a longer time as the No. 2 ranked player in the world than the left-hander has, having taken up seemingly permanent residence behind Tiger Woods.

For several weeks now, Mickelson has been closer than ever to taking the No. 1 spot, something he's never had. But so far, he hasn't been able to make it happen. His play, so sharp at the Masters in April, has been ragged recently, including a missed-cut performance at the Scottish Open last week.

Mickelson has generally brushed off questions about becoming No. 1, taking the approach that if he plays well enough, that will take care of itself. Pressed on the subject Tuesday, Mickelson admitted becoming No. 1 is a goal of his.

"I care," Mickelson said. "I think it would be something that if I were to accomplish in my career...whether it was for one week or a month or a year, however long, just to be able to say you did it, especailly in Tiger's era, it would be incredible.

"So I know that my window of opportunity is small because Tiger is going to start playing some of his better golf here soon, so I've got to get my butt in gear. So I'm going to try hard to do that this week."

Of course Mickelson wants to be No. 1. He's not a No. 2 type personality.

The Open Championship hasn't been filled with a lot of highlights for Mickelson, though he narrowly missed the playoff in 2004. But he likes the Old Course better than all other Open venues, even saying he'd be happy to see the Open at St. Andrews permanently. With its wind and angles and emphasis on putting its enormous greens, the Old Course would seem the ideal place for Mickelson to win an Open.

He knows what it means to win at the Old Course, something he hasn't done. Doing that would answer the question of No. 1.