RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Phil Mickelson liked winning at the County Club of Virginia’s James River Course so much last year, he returned for a second round.
Mickelson will defend his title at the first event of the three-tournament Champions Tour playoffs, which tee off on Friday.
“I really enjoyed it last year, I had a great time,” Mickelson said. “I have had a lot of fun playing in these events and this golf course is spectacular, so it was a nice fit. I didn’t want to fly overseas for our regular tour event, so I wanted to play and this is a great fit.”
Mickelson, who has won three times in four career Champions Tour events, has a high opinion of the course.
“First of all, the golf course is spectacular and because it is playing so different from last year, it is more challenging with greens being firmer and really fast,” Mickelson said. “I am going to have to be more patient and manage my game a little bit better. Last year, it was very much about aggression because the greens were soft and you could get away with things, but this year is a little different. It plays different. Respecting the golf course is going to be key for me to try to execute.”
Bernhard Langer currently leads the Charles Schwab Cup points standings and will be one of the favorites again in Mickelson’s mind.
“There are a lot of really good players that are playing some really good golf out here,” Mickelson said. “What you don’t see is how hard they work off the golf course, because, as we all get older to maintain flexibility, speed, strength all those things, it’s a lot of extra work.”
He went on to say that at 64-years-old, Bernhard Langer is the gold standard.
“That is the guy to look up to elongate your career and have a great quality of life,” Mickelson said. “It’s fun for us to play golf, feel good, come out here and compete and there is a high level of play out here.”
Mickelson will tee off at 11:13 a.m. on Friday.