Until we see Phil Mickelson literally tee off on Thursday at the Players Championship, there’s always the possibility that the most unpredictable player on the PGA Tour might pick up his ball and go home from Ponte Vedra Beach next week. But a tweet he sent out on Sunday afternoon seems to indicate that he’s now leaning more toward playing at TPC Sawgrass than not.
For the past month, Mickelson has been wavering about whether he will compete in the tournament, which he has played 25 times and won back in 2007. Mostly his waffling has been due to concerns about the course set-up (specifically how bad the rough would be) and whether it might not be conducive to his my-tee-shots-might-go-anywhere game. His initial dismissal of playing the Players came at Riviera Country Club during the Genesis Open and caught many by surprise—“It’s not one I feel like I have to play. If I were young and early in my career, I would say yes because I think it’s as close to a major as it can get. But it’s not the best course for me.” However, most folks took it as Phil popping off as only Phil seems to do. He wasn’t really serious, right?
Well, last week’s discussion after a disappointing performance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational suggested he wasn’t bluffing after all. After shooting a 78 to miss the cut at Bay Hill on Friday, Phil told Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski that while in the field at the Players, he was no lock to actually play: “It just depends on the set-up and what I see. I’m definitely 50-50. But if I don’t play, then I will add something else.”
On Friday, Mickelson said he’d play nine holes of practice at TPC Sawgrass this coming Tuesday and make his decision then. Of course, the early exit out of Orlando freed up his weekend schedule, and it appears he got to Sawgrass early. (We’re assuming that’s the TPC Phil is referring to in the tweet.)
It would be hard to believe that Mickelson would skip an event so important to PGA Tour’s C-suite; he walks to the beat of his own drum but he’s not so crass as to spite Jay Monahan and company in that manner. Mickelson is already listed in a featured pairing with Matt Kuchar and Rory McIlroy. The tour also sent out a press release on Sunday night ahead of the tournament touting the impressive field that is set to assemble at Sawgrass: 50 of the top 50 on the World Ranking are current in the field for the Players. That could change if injuries to Tiger Woods (neck) and Jason Day (back) linger into next week. But it feels like Mickelson isn’t going to be the one to spoil the perfect attendance.