Mickelson on quest for first FedExCup, Player of the Year honor

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Mickelson comments after Round 1 of the Deutsche Bank Championship

Following his opening-round 63 at the 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship, Phil Mickelson talks about his putting and the way he played.

NORTON, Mass. -- He's won five majors, has a locker in the World Golf Hall of Fame, and is adored by golf fans around the world.

But Phil Mickelson has never won a FedExCup. Nor has he been voted the Player of the Year.

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He wants them both. And, at age 42, he wants them now. He made that very clear Friday.

Consider Mickelson's 8-under 63 in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship as his statement of intent. He plans to push hard the next few weeks for the few honors not yet listed on his resume.

"If I finish off with one or two (more) wins this year and win the FedExCup," said Mickelson, who'll start Saturday's second round at TPC Boston with a share of the lead, "I think that would be enough to get the Player of the Year."

Six weeks ago, Mickelson put himself in position to make a run when he won The Open Championship with a brilliant final-round 66. His most sizzling round of the year, though, came in his other win in 2013, an opening 60 on the last day of January at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Friday's round at TPC Boston had a similar feel, as Mickelson went out in 28. That prompted a 59 watch by all concerned, including the Golf Channel, which made the unusual decision to offer bonus coverage early in the afternoon.

Having shot a final-round 65 last Sunday at The Barclays, Mickelson now has back-to-back goosebump-inducing rounds in the FedExCup Playoffs. He's feeling it, for sure.

"I feel like these next three weeks I'm going to play very well. I can just feel it," said Mickelson, who made a quick trip back home to California after The Barclays because his daughter Amanda was starting high school. "You can just tell sometimes. The game feels sharp. And mentally I have a lot of energy and I'm able to focus clearly."

He was clearly focused on Friday as he played with Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, the top two players in FedExCup points. Right now, those are his main rivals for the FedExCup and the end-of-year honors.

In their last 15 pairings, Mickelson has fared better than Woods nine times. That includes Friday when Tiger shot a 3-under 68.

Asked if Tiger brings out the best in him, Mickelson replied: "Today it's hard to think any differently."

And from Tiger's perspective?

"Not a lot going on with me," Woods said. "I didn't give myself a lot of looks. But Phil was getting everything. I was hitting it good but wasn't making a lot of putts."

Maybe Tiger should talk to a few people about that. Evidently, that's what Phil did.

Mickelson said Friday that he recently had chats with "eight of the best putters I've ever seen. We've probably talked between 30 minutes and two hours, or at least I have with these guys. And I actually took notes. And there's one thing that they all said that's the same.

"And that's been my secret."

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Alas, he wouldn't reveal the names of the putters, though. Nor would he reveal the secret. After the tournament perhaps?

"Maybe," Mickelson said.

Whatever the secret is, it worked. His first four birdie putts came from 18, 28, 18 and 15 feet while the next three were inside 11. No wonder he made the turn in 28, tying his career low for nine holes.

"That's why it was such a good round score-wise," Mickelson said. "... I didn't feel like I was knocking down the pin. I was just giving myself reasonable opportunities and I was rolling them in."

He's definitely giving himself a reasonable opportunity to win the FedExCup, which is now in its seventh season. He's come close before; three times he's finished inside the top five, including a second in 2009 when he won the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola but finished runner-up to Woods in points.

Woods and Scott, last week's winner, are in good position to control their own fates at East Lake. A Mickelson win this week at TPC Boston would secure his spot too.

Then it's a showdown at East Lake. Mickelson is definitely motivated.

"As time goes on, I think (the FedExCup is) going to be more and more prestigious," Mickelson said. "It's something I'd like to capture."

Winning the $10 million bonus just might sway the Player of the Year voters, too.

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