Phil Mickelson says he’s keen to compete at this week’s Barclays Singapore Open on the European Tour to show off the fruits of his effort in home practice sessions to improve his game.
Mickelson has slipped out of the world top 10 after winning just one tournament this year, the Shell Houston Open in April.
“I’ve been back home practicing and playing for about a month, and I’ve been itching to play because I feel I’ve been playing well and shooting some low scores,” Mickelson said on Wednesday. “I’m excited because I feel like I have some really good golf ahead of me.”
The American, who at No. 11 will be the highest-ranked player in the event, has yet to win in Singapore in four attempts.
Mickelson said he expects the No. 1 ranking to keep changing hands frequently. The three-time Masters champ has yet to be No. 1.
“We don’t have the same separation that we had for almost a decade as we had when Tiger was dominating,” he said. “I think it will be more fluid for the next while.”
Mickelson declined to comment on Woods’ former caddie Steve Williams using a racial slur to disparage Woods at a caddies award party in Shanghai last week. Williams has issued an apology for his remark.
He is, however, very happ to be back in Singapore where a new format will see a total of 204 players compete over two courses -- the more difficult Serapong Course and the easier Tanjong, with the weekend rounds played over the Serapong.
"My excitement levels are really high at the moment for this event and next week's Presidents Cup because those are my last two events of the season before 2012," he said.
Mickelson reckon his four previous visits to Sentosa will boost his chances of landing the $1 million first prize.
"Having played here a number of years, I just feel that every time I come here I play the course better and better," said the 41-year-old, who has won 39 titles on the PGA Tour. "I have to accept that there are a number of holes where you have to accept par and maybe I have been forcing the birdies in the past. The more I come here the more I accept that.
"The Serapong Course is really in incredible shape," he explained. "It has become more challenging, the conditioning has gotten better and it really is a world class venue to host this event."
After finishing fifth and third in the last two Singapore Opens, 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell is hoping for a natural progression to first place this week. And a win in the Wednesday pro-am could prove to be good omen for the Ulsterman.
"We were fortunate enough to win the pro-am although it wasn't really much to do with me. There were some interesting handicaps going on but we had a great time," said McDowell, ranked 14th in the world. "The golf course is in as good a shape as I have ever seen it. They have had a lot of rain here but this golf course drains incredibly well and we are set for a great week."
Ernie Els, meanwhile, plans to erase some bitter memories of twice finishing second here.
"I ran Jeev [Milkha Singh] pretty close the year he won," he said. "I have had some good runs here but I haven't played the format with the two courses so that will make it interesting.
"I had a look at the other course and it looks like you will have to make a pretty good score there to keep the pace," he explained. "The Serapong is an amazing golf course now -- it has really come a long way.
"I have been coming here forever -- it's a great city, I love it here. It would be good to get the win here," Els added. "I am really looking forward to this week. I'm definitely up for it -- I have a bit of the hunger back and it will be great to get out and play."
Y.E. Yang, Asia's first male major champion, knows a first victory of the season will be difficult to come by.
"It is a very tough field, one of the best fields in Asia. I have my work cut out this week. Hopefully I will play better than last year," said Yang, who finished tied 16th in 2010.
Retief Goosen and Padraig Harrington -- who boast five majors between them -- add more quality to the field in what is Asia's richest national Open.
A total of 204 players will compete over two courses - The Serapong and Tanjong - in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour. The weekend rounds will be held at The Serapong.
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