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  • Mickelson regains enthusiasm entering The Barclays

  • Phil Mickelson has won twice during the FedExCup Playoffs. (David Cannon/Getty Images) Phil Mickelson has won twice during the FedExCup Playoffs. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

PARAMUS, N.J. -- On the heels of that dramatic, yet draining runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson spent most of last week decompressing back home in California. He even found time to take his wife Amy out on a few dates.

But Mickelson has come to Ridgewood Country Club to play in The Barclays this week with renewed enthusiasm. After spending much of the season looking for his game, he found it at Valhalla and he's hoping to finish the season strong during the FedExCup Playoffs.

"The PGA was a big week for me because it was the first time this year my game was back," Mickelson said. "It gave me an excitement and energy heading into the FedExCup and Barclays here that my game is back and I'm ready to compete and get back into contention.

"It was so fun being up there again, and the nerves and the excitement of it all, it got me excited."   

Mickelson enters the Playoffs ranked 45th -- only the second time since the FedExCup began that he started golf's ultimate survival test ranked outside the top six. He's played in 27 of the previous 28 Playoffs events but right now Mickelson is not assured of competing in all four this year.

The second-place finish at Valhalla, where Mickelson held a share of the lead until he bogeyed the 16th hole on Sunday and Rory McIlroy birdied No. 17, was Lefty's first top-10 finish of the year. While he says he made strides with his driver this year, the big lefthander's normally dependable short game suffered and his putting only recently has come around.

"We all go through highs and lows, and I'll try not to dwell on it or worry about it because I know it will come back and it slowly has," Mickelson said. "It started at the British and it led into the PGA, but it was a disappointing finish for me in the sense that had I played two shots like that -- in the final round, it would have made the year totally different.
 
"Now I have to play well this week and in the FedExCup to really make the year salvageable."

And after the Playoffs? Mickelson has one very clear goal.

"I'll probably take the rest of the year off, work on my fitness, work on my golf game and really focus on 2015 because 2015 is when the points start accumulating really for the Olympics," Mickelson said. "I don't know why that's important to me but it is. I want to be a 46-year-old Olympian, that's pretty cool.   

"So 2015 and 2016 are years I want to really focus on and I want to make sure I'm ready again."

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