By Simon Evans
NORTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson, fresh off a solid start at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday, said he has his sights on the PGA Tour Player of the Year award but knows a FedExCup title is needed to reach that goal.
World number three Mickelson, who won his fifth major crown at the British Open in July, made a glorious start to the second event of the lucrative FedExCup playoffs, reaching the turn at seven-under after starting on the 10th tee.
Although he was unable to replicate that form on his back nine, he entered the clubhouse as the early tournament leader in the second of the four events in the FedExCup playoffs, a series which he has never won.
"As time goes on I think it is going to be more and more prestigious, it is something I would like to capture," Mickelson told reporters after carding an eight-under 63.
"I just want to play well these next three weeks because I feel like if I can add a win or two, I have a realistic chance at Player of the Year, which I have never accomplished. That would mean a lot to me too.
"I've had a few chances over the years but if I finish off with one or two wins this year and win the FedExCup, I think that would be enough to get the Player of the Year award."
World number one Tiger Woods, with five PGA Tour wins this year, is the favourite at the moment for the annual award although Australian Adam Scott, the Masters champion, would also fancy his chances if he could add the FedExCup.
Mickelson though is in bullish mood, after finishing well on Sunday in the Barclays and bringing that form into the opening round at TPC Boston.
"I feel really good. I had a couple of weeks after the British Open, the PGA, in Akron, I wasn't sharp. My game clicked again last week and I feel like in these next three weeks I am going to play very well. I can just feel it," said Mickelson.
"You can just tell sometimes. The game feels sharp and mentally I have a lot of energy and am able to focus clearly - and that is usually when you play well."
Mickelson's game certainly looked sharp in all areas on Friday but he was particularly pleased with his work on the greens.
"I putted really well today. My ball-striking was okay, I didn't knock it down, didn't hit shots exceedingly close but what I did do is make a lot of 12-20 foot putts. The ones that you need to make to get a really hot round. I ended up making quite a few of them.," said Mickelson.
"I was just giving myself reasonable opportunities and rolling them in."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)