Phil Mickelson has had better days at the office than he did Thursday at the CIMB Classic, and if the errant-swinging southpaw carries through on his pledge to play a Tiger Woods-like schedule for the rest of the 2013-14 season, the world No. 3 will have time to get his game back on track before next year’s U.S. Open.
Mickelson, who told reporters at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club on Thursday after carding an opening-round 1-under 71 that his swing was "way off right now" and "as far off as it’s ever been," said prior to back-to-back events in Asia that he would play fewer tourneys leading up to the one major he has yet to win.
"Of course it would be," he said Wednesday about whether his primary objective this season was capturing his national championship.
"There's no hiding the fact that winning the U.S. Open would be my career goal of completing the career Grand Slam, and that’s the final leg that I have," said the five-time major winner who finally added the British Open title to his resume in July. "I'll be putting most of my focus into winning the U.S. Open."
The 43-year-old said he would play fewer tournaments to conserve his energy and focus for the four elite tilts, a practice Woods has employed for years and Steve Stricker began doing in 2013, but he would certainly not pass up chances to add other major trophies to his collection. Instead, the less prestigious competitions will get the axe, as Mickelson prepares to overcome the devastation of coming in second yet again at this nation's Open, which he did for a record sixth time at Merion in June.
"I'm not going to skip the Masters and the importance that that event has, because every green jacket is meaningful to me," he said.
"As I look back on my career, there are certain tournaments that change the way I view my career, and winning the British Open did that this year," Mickelson said. "I want to give myself opportunities to play and compete in the big tournaments -- I'm mainly saying the majors -- and I'm putting less importance on other events. So my whole purpose and focus will be gearing up, participating in certain tournaments that will help me play well in those majors."
Even with his condensed schedule, Mickelson said he planned a return visit to Asia in 2014.
As for his spot in this week’s event (still in contention, eight shots back of 18-hole leader Ryan Moore), Mickelson paid the outcome little heed.
"You know, the lead for me right now is irrelevant. It's so far off that that's the last thing on my mind, because I just don't know where the ball's going," he said. "I would go hit balls, but I don't know what to do to try to fix it. I don't even know what to try to do."