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‘Grandpa’ Phil Mickelson headlines PGA Tour season opener at Safeway Open

After helping Team USA dominate last week in the Presidents Cup, Phil Mickelson begins his quest to make the 2018 Ryder Cup team at this week’s kickoff to the new PGA Tour season.

The Presidents Cup - Round Three Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Hope you enjoyed that 11-day offseason because Old Man Phil Mickelson — after just a four-day break between the PGA Tour’s last campaign and the new one set to kick off on Thursday — hopes to use the momentum from his star turn with the youngsters at the Presidents Cup to end his four-year regular-season winless drought at this week’s Safeway Open.

Mickelson, who went 3-0-1 in the Americans’ expected drubbing of the Internationals at Liberty National, at 47, was the oldest U.S. competitor by seven years over Charley Hoffman. So long in the tooth is Lefty that kids like BFFs Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas — each 23 years Phil’s junior — took to calling the grizzled old vet (goofy celebration dance and all), “Grandpa.”

“I didn’t know that,” said Mickelson on Sunday, following Team USA’s 19-11 laugher, responding to a reporter’s query about whether he was aware of his nickname among the Millennials. “That must be behind my back, yeah. Must be.”

Old enough to be their grandpappy or not, skipper Steve Stricker’s wild card pick boosted his Prez Cup record to 26–16–13 to become the winningest PC player since a certain vice captain prevailed in his 24th match in 2013.

Now, with his sights set on making it to Paris as a member of the 2018 Ryder Cup team, Mickelson looks to start working his way up the standings with a successful 2017-2018 season that will include adding some events to his schedule “to try to get up on the list and make the team on points,” he said Sunday.

“I've got a lot to work hard on, look forward to and a lot of goals to achieve to make that team and be a part of it,” he said Sunday. “But I think that would be really a career moment for me if we could go over there and bring back — keep The Ryder Cup.”

That work begins Thursday at Silverado Resort and Spa, where Mickelson will be the headliner among such competitors as Sam Saunders, Arnold Palmer’s grandson who spent the PGA Tour’s offseason duking it out and winning his playing card at last week’s Tour Championship.

The field also includes former major winners Zach Johnson and Webb Simpson, as well as a number of lesser-known players like Chesson Hadley, who is heading back to the PGA Tour after earning full status during the feeder tour’s finals.