The Northern Trust: Phil Mickelson in great spirits for FedEx Cup playoffs

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Phil Mickelson (Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson has plenty to play for during the FedEx Cup playoffs, and he got off to a good start Thursday during Round 1 of The Northern Trust.

Mickelson, a recent addition to Twitter, started lightly trash talking Tiger Woods, whom he will compete against in a $9 million pay-per-view event in Las Vegas during Thanksgiving weekend, shot a 3-under 68 Thursday.

“I just drove it terrific,” Mickelson said after his first round. “Thought it was going to be a great day and had a great warmup and got on the course, and just did the usual. So I think it’s more of a mental thing right now than it is the actual swing, because I’ve been driving it great.

“I’ll go hit some balls and try to get the timing or find out what exactly was a fraction off, but if you had seen the way I drove it yesterday, the previous few days, you would have expected, as I did, to have a phenomenal driving day, and I think I’ll get it turned around. I’ll have a good three days.”

Ranked 22nd in the world, Mickelson won for the first time since 2013 earlier this year. Though he failed to make automatic qualification for the 2018 Ryder Cup, he hopes to catch captain Jim Furyk’s eye during the playoffs.

“I really like this golf course. I had a great week last week where I’m playing well, and I love TPC Boston. So I’m going to play really well these next two weeks and I’m going to make it an easy decision,” Mickelson, who needs a captain’s pick to make the team, said.

Mickelson has exuded confidence ahead of his Thanksgiving weekend match against Woods, but he said the timing of the event is a bit inconvenient.

“I think we both have the same challenge of the date,” Mickelson said. “I think the positive and the negative is that it’s an isolated event.

“It will be difficult for us because there aren’t tournaments we’re going to play in leading up to it but it also brings golf in primetime when it’s not really showcased and the other sports are at the forefront, so we can get golf back into people’s frame of mind.

“So we’ll both have the challenge, and I’m thinking about maybe playing either the week before, the week after, to make it more worthwhile in the sense that it’s not a one-day event. So I have something else to keep playing for and working for.”