Mickelson has struggled to impress on the American circuit this year (©GettyImages)
Mickelson has struggled to impress on the American circuit this year (©GettyImages).

Phil Mickelson eager to contend ahead of U.S. Open

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Phil Mickelson will look to end a streak of failing to finish inside the top-10 at any PGA Tour event this season when he tees it up at this week's lucrative Players' Championship. 

Last week's tied-11th finish at Quail Hollow's Wells Fargo Championship means the five-time major winner is still yet to record a meaningful result this year having missed the cut at the Masters as well as withdrawing from two other events. 

The 2007 Players' winner showed signs of improved form during the Saturday round of last week, where he went on to shoot a nine-under 63. However, he followed that up on Sunday with a 76, although never really threatening the top of the leader board. And with the U.S. Open at Pinehurst fast approaching, the American is keen to contend at TPC Sawgrass.

He told reporters: "For me, I need to get in contention to kind of build my confidence, because the early part of the year I haven't had that experience, and it showed in my performance on Sunday.

 "So I want to get in contention here, which is why I'll play Memorial and Memphis as well leading into the US Open."

Mickelson need only add his home Open title to complete the career Grand Slam and join the likes of Tiger Woods, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win every major at some point.

He has finished runner-up a record five times, including last year at Merion to England's Justin Rose, and so a good return this week at what is widely regarded as the unofficial fifth major of the golfing calendar is a must.

In a season that started so well for Mickelson - he finished second to Pablo Larazabal at the Abu Dhabi Championship despite a triple-bogey seven in his final round - poor health and a lack of form saw him fail to make the weekend at Augusta for the first time.

"I've got to cut myself a little slack because for a long time early on, I wasn't healthy, wasn't able to go at the ball with the right amount of speed, which is going to not just affect my driving, but also affect my distance control, because I don't know exactly what speed I'm going through impact.

"But I've been feeling great since a few weeks prior to the Masters and I feel like last week was a good week for me to try to help put all things together."

He met with putting coach Dave Stockton on Monday to address issues he's had with his stroke so far this year, and the crowd favourite is excited about the prospect of competing for his first top-10 finish at Ponte Vedra Beach since he was crowned champion seven years ago. 

The American faces stiff competition this week, however, with Sawgrass' lucrative purse attracting the best field of the year annually.

There is also added incentive to four of his competitors - Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Henrik Stenson - who can all usurp Woods at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings with respective finishes. 

For Mickelson, though, it will simply be about being in contention on Sunday evening as he aims to put the final piece into his major jigsaw at Pinehurst in mid-June. 

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Adam Scott
Phil Mickleson
PGA Tour
Bubba Watson
Tiger Woods

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