OPEN champion Phil Mickelson believes the Ryder Cup needs an American win at Gleneagles this year to give the event a boost following recent results.
Seven of the last matches have been won by Europe, the latest seeing Jose Maria Olazabal’s side produce a record-equalling last-day fightback at Medinah.
That hurt Mickelson, who has finished up on the winning side just twice in nine appearances in the event, and he’s determined to help Tom Watson’s team taste victory in Perthshire in September.
“That would be really special,” admitted the world No 5 today at a press conference ahead of this week’s HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, the first event on the European Tour’s Middle East Swing.
“I thought we had won the last one holding a four-point lead [going into the final day] but let it slide.
“If we can were able to come out on top at Gleneagles, it would be something really good, not just for the United States but also the tournament in general because we have not been faring well in that event.”
Mickelson enjoyed a memorable 2013, winning The Open for the first time at Muirfield after he’d also captured the Scottish Open title at Castle Stuart seven days earlier.
But, equipped with a new driver, the 43-year-old has pitched up in the United Arab Emirates believing that he could be set to enjoy the best season of his career.
“Last year was a great year for me because of the breakthrough in winning The Open - that was the highlight of my year,” he said.
“It’s been the tournament that was the most challenging throughout my career to play well in, having only had a couple of chances to win it.
“To breakthrough and play my best golf on Sunday, especially that back nine when I needed it, is the best feeling you could ask for.
“The one tournament that’s holding me back now from the career Grand Slam is the US Open, an event I’ve played well in for many years with six seconds.
“I hope to breakthrough in that, too, to get that career Grand Slam and one thing that makes me very excited about 2014 is that I have a driver in my bag that is the best one I’ve ever hit.
“Last year I played some of my best golf and had some huge improvements - but I did most of it without a driver.
“I now have one that lowers my spin rate just like my 3-wood and I’m driving it both longer and straighter.
“It’s a whole different weapon in my arsenal now and, if I drive the ball like I have been in practice in the off-season, then the 2014 season could be the best year of my career.”