Two of the world’s most familiar names, Mickelson and McIlroy, hope to regain their past success—and, more importantly, the 2018 Ryder Cup—after a winless year marked by injuries and change.
Both Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy failed to win an event on either the PGA TOUR or European Tour in 2017. A combination of injury and lacking form saw them fall down the world rankings—this prompted both to take drastic action. Now, both are refreshed and raring to go, with a Ryder Cup carrot dangling in front of them and a trip to Paris in September being the ultimate goal.
Mickelson wasn’t at his strongest in 2017; his quest to rediscover his best play ultimately led to the tough decision to part ways with his long-term caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay. The pair had been together throughout Mickelson’s professional career.
2017 was also a year that had started with two operations. Ahead of this season, Mickelson is hoping that his best is still to come as he prepares for a 27th season as a professional. Does he still have the talent to add to 42 career wins? The prospect of making the U.S. team for the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris will be a major driving factor.
Dreaming of the Ryder Cup
“I really would like to be on that team,” Mickelson told the Golf Channel. “I’m putting forth a lot of effort to get ready, so I play my best to get on a team.
“I’ve put in a lot of time in [the] off-season, getting ready [for] this year. I’m physically a lot stronger. I’ve been practicing and working to get my game sharp. I don’t know how it’s going to start out, but I’m very optimistic,” he commented.
For McIlroy, the goal is the same…the 2018 Ryder Cup. The northern Irishman will be returning to the course fully fit after being hampered by a rib injury, which interrupted the end of his 2017 season. Like Mickelson, it was also a year of significant change as he too ended his association with long-term caddie JP Fitzgerald.
‘Busiest’ year on TOUR
McIlroy expects 2018 to be his busiest year on Tour yet as he is scheduled to play on both the PGA and European Tours. He seeks to rediscover the form that elevated him to number one in the world.
“I might play more times this year than any before,” McIlroy said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
“I played 28 times in 2008 and I’m on track to beat that. I could get to 30, depending on where I’m placed in the Race to Dubai. But I’ll see,” he speculated.
“I’ve worked hard on my short game and I’m probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have. I’ve had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road.”
The Masters at Augusta—the only major to elude him so far—will be McIlroy’s big early season target as he attempts to join the elite band of golfers to complete a career Grand Slam. Then, like Mickelson, it is all about those three days in Paris in September.
See also: Key Dates and Golf Events in 2018