Mickelson clears schedule in US Open title bid

By Talek Harris ,AFP

KUALA LUMPUR — Phil Mickelson Wednesday said he was strongly focused on completing a rare career grand slam at next year’s U.S. Open and planned to slash his schedule to boost his chances. The world number three said winning the British Open in July had given him a different perspective and the spur to become just the sixth man to claim all four major titles. Mickelson now has five majors but the U.S. Open remains stubbornly elusive after his miserable run of six second-place finishes at the tournament. “Of course it would be,” Mickelson said ahead of the US$7 million CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, when asked whether the U.S. Open was his primary goal for the 2013-2014 season. “There’s no hiding the fact that winning the U.S. Open would be my career goal of completing the career Grand Slam,” he said. “That’s the final leg that I have and I’ll be putting most of my focus into winning the U.S. Open.

“But I’m not going to skip the Masters and the importance that that event has, because every green jacket is meaningful to me.” Only Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen have completed the modern-era career Grand Slam of winning the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. Mickelson’s majors include three green jackets at the Masters, but the U.S. Open remains tantalizingly out of reach after he again finished runner-up in June, behind England’s Justin Rose. Mickelson, who is 43, said he was now at the stage where he needed to tailor his commitments to give himself the best chance at the big events. “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,” he 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.” Mickelson heads a bumper field at the CIMB Classic, the fourth leg of the new PGA Tour season and the first in Asia to offer points for the FedExCup championship culminating in September. Mickelson, a regular visitor to Asia, said he expected to return to the region next year, despite his shortened schedule.