Lynch: Phil Mickelson doesn’t really want to play with the old guys, but needs them more than he’ll admit

It seemed appropriate on a day when two fellow competitors at the Northern Trust shot scores uncomfortably close to his age that Phil Mickelson announced his plan to debut on the PGA Tour Champions.

Scottie Scheffler’s Friday-morning 59 briefly appeared like it wouldn’t even be low round of the day until Dustin Johnson flatlined his way to a 60 in the afternoon. Like Roger Bannister’s 4-minute-mile, the ’60’ barrier seems to fall now with the frequency of a one-legged drunk on an ice rink, and those low rounds by Scheffler and Johnson might have reminded Mickelson that the days when he can hang with that kind of firepower are fewer and farther between.

A missed cut at TPC Boston eliminated Mickelson from the FedEx Cup Playoffs, so he will join the silver-haired circuit on Monday at the Charles Schwab Series in Missouri. That the five-time major winner — who turned 50 in June — opted to tee it with the seniors only when there were no PGA Tour options before him doesn’t suggest he views the Champions Tour as being a significant part of his future, but Mickelson is certainly a significant part of the future of the Champions Tour.

His presence in Missouri will boost the profile of a circuit that, for all of the fine players peddling their wares out there, thrives most when legends come along. Legends aren’t real plentiful, of course, especially among the generation now graduating to the Champions Tour that had their résumés impoverished by Tiger Woods. Mickelson says he’ll play only a few senior events each year, a listless embrace similar to that of Greg Norman and Nick Faldo, but better than Johnny Miller’s no-show.

The PGA Tour Champions needs more, because the next superstar in its queue doesn’t turn 50 until December of 2025, and a man with young kids, a healthy portfolio and an unhealthy body isn’t a good bet to be pegging it against a 68-year-old Bernhard Langer every week.

It also deserves more. Sure, it may be littered with guys who couldn’t get your pulse racing if they were clapping you with a defibrillator, but the Champions Tour still brings big-time golf to small-town America and permits Cinderella stories worth rooting for. Exhibit ‘A’: Scott Parel.

Fortuitously, Mickelson’s debut comes at the first-ever Champions Tour event played Monday through Wednesday. A strong performance by the popular showman during a broadcast window that is otherwise uncontested might encourage the Tour to adopt that opportunistic schedule in future, and would certainly represent the lone positive amid the COVID-induced chaos on the golf calendar. Mickelson need not win for the week to be a victory for the Tour.

It’s no rap to say the PGA Tour Champions won’t offer Mickelson the elixir he desires. He’s a proud man who would much rather compete against young stallions than old warhorses who are one stumble shy of the

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By: Eamon Lynch
Title: Lynch: Phil Mickelson doesn't really want to play with the old guys, but needs them more than he’ll admit
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Published Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2020 15:45:28 +0000

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