Mickelson hopes hot round can spark major flame

(L-R) Rickie Fowler of the United States and Phil Mickelson of the United States look on at Valhalla Golf Club on August 5, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky
(L-R) Rickie Fowler of the United States and Phil Mickelson of the United States look on at Valhalla Golf Club on August 5, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky (AFP Photo/Andy Lyons)

Louisville (AFP) - Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson enters the PGA Championship coming off his lowest round of the year, one that boosted his confidence in qualifying for the US Ryder Cup team.

The 44-year-old American, last year's British Open champion, fired a sizzling eight-under par 62 in Sunday's final round at the World Golf Championships event in Akron, Ohio.

That restored his faith in the work he had been undertaking to find top form and gave him momentum entering the final major tournament of the year, which starts Thursday at Valhalla.

"In this game, things can turn around really in an instant," Mickelson said. "I don't want to put too much into one round. I'm interested to see how it goes Thursday and Friday, but certainly my confidence level and my practice sessions are totally different.

"I don't feel like I'm searching. I feel like I'm just trying to now acquire that same feel from Sunday and I feel like I've found what I'm looking for. I just have to maintain it."

Mickelson shared second at Abu Dhabi but otherwise had not cracked the top 10 in an event all season, including a disappointing share of 28th at the US Open as he tried to complete a career grand slam in an event where he has finished second a record six times.

"Sunday was a big day for me because it just kind of fell together. I felt like the pieces were close, I played some good golf and it felt like it started to fall together," Mickelson said.

"I've been waiting for it to just click and all come together in a round and I felt like once that happened there would be some momentum."

- Phil out to earn Cup nod -

It comes at the final qualifying event for the US Ryder Cup team that will try to win back the trophy from Europe next month at Gleneagles, Scotland.

At the moment, Mickelson is just outside the ninth-place spot he needs to make the list on points and not have to rely upon a captain's choice selection from Tom Watson.

"I really do believe that after the way I played on the weekend, I think I'll continue that play into this week and I'm confident that I'll get on the team on my own and won't require that pick," Mickelson said.

Mickelson is 14-18-6 in nine Ryder Cup appearances and his leadership and experience make him a near-certain pick if he fails to make it on points.

"I want to keep that streak going of two decades that I have of making the team on my own and not needing a pick," he said.

Mickelson, who won the PGA Championship in 2005 at Baltusrol as well as three Masters green jackets, has found the dynamic he sought after weeks in the wilderness.

"It's a really good thing for me to get that kind of momentum from one round," Mickelson said. "You don't want to put too much emphasis on just one round. But the way the pieces fell together, I started to roll the ball well and wedge play started to get good, short irons got better and just really two days prior, it was just horrific. So it was an important day.

"The rhythm and the timing and touch and things started to come back. I'm trying to take that feel and touch from the weekend and bring it over here, and it seems to be a lot better.

"I feel a lot more confident in my game, and hopefully I can put together four good rounds instead of just two."

Mickelson admitted that he has felt less than thrilled with his game this season even as he put forth hopeful manners.

"It has been a while since I felt confident heading in," Mickelson said. "It's a nice turn of events."