Phil Mickelson has spent the past month trying to get over the Americans’ shocking defeat in the Ryder Cup, which he calls “one of the biggest lows of my career”.
Playing for the first time since the Ryder Cup in the HSBC Champions, starting this morning at Mission Hills, Mickelson says it will probably take him far longer to forget what happened in Medinah. “I think the first two weeks following the Ryder Cup was a really tough low, one of the biggest lows of my career,” he said. “It was one of the biggest disappointments that I’ve had to deal with. That disappointment will last a lot longer than a month. I still feel disappointment from it. I still feel that, over the next two years, we’ll still have the same disappointment from not winning this year’s Ryder Cup.” Mickelson lost to Justin Rose in the turning point of the competition on the last day, as the US blew a six-point lead and lost by one.
Tired of Europe’s ongoing celebrating, Keegan Bradley, whose exceptional play in the Ryder Cup was the one bright spot for the Americans, thinks a victory for one of his countrymen this weekend would be a big morale boost. “I saw some guys in the airport yesterday and it made me happy just to see the guys,” he said. “I think it would be great – a win here anytime is amazing and I think that it would help all of the Americans and especially myself.”
Mickelson is also trying to look on the bright side and his partnership with Bradley at the Ryder Cup has at least given him new motivation to work on his game. “I had a great couple of days playing with Keegan as a partner,” he said. “And I saw some things where I can improve my game and I have this new kind of excitement and energy that Keegan has, and it’s rubbed off on me.”
Ernie Els, meanwhile, expects to go through the pain barrier in China this week as he tries for his first top-ten finish since winning the Open Championship in July. Two weeks after injuring his ankle stepping on a ball while playing tennis – it led to him pulling out of the PGA Grand Slam in Bermuda – Els returns at Mission Hills. “Amazing how things work – you hurt your ankle and then you come to the most hilly course in the world,” the 43-year-old South African said. “It’s basically on a mountainside. I’m on a bunch of painkillers and stuff. Whenever there are loose balls on a tennis court, move them off please. I didn’t do that and went down pretty hard.”