SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) If he’s going to get a spot on the Presidents Cup team this year, Phil Mickelson would rather earn it.
For now, Mickelson is No. 36 in the Presidents Cup standings, meaning Lefty wouldn’t automatically qualify for one of 10 spots when the U.S. team goes for a sixth consecutive victory in South Korea in October.
U.S Captain Jay Haas gets two picks on Sept. 8.
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No thanks, Mickelson said.
”I don’t want to have to be a pick. I haven’t been a pick in 20 years. I don’t want to be a pick now,” he said Saturday at Whistling Straits. ”I want to get on the team on my own merit, but I haven’t played well enough soon enough to do it.”
Mickelson is more than 1,700 points behind 10th-place Matt Kuchar.
Maybe Mickelson’s third round on Saturday will give him the spark he needs to move up the standings.
”I’m not doing the little things well like I need to and I let a lot of shots escape me today in a round that was still very good,” Mickelson said.
He gained six shots on the day to move to 5-under for the tournament, way back of the leaders at Whistling Straits, but good enough to give him a confidence boost.
Mickelson is No. 56 in the FedEx Cup, assured of at least playing The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship during the FedEx Cup playoffs. Those offer big money, which translates to points.
”Having a good final round tomorrow would get me even a little bit closer to where a win would get me on the team,” Mickelson said. ”We have got two events left and, like I said, I’ve been saying I’m close.”
RORY’S SCHEDULE: Rory McIlroy got off to an ideal start with two birdies and an eagle through five holes. By the end of the day, there were too many bogeys on his card and he had to settle for a 68 on a good day for scoring.
”I guess that probably shows just a lack of competitiveness,” said McIlroy, playing for the first time since the U.S. Open because of an ankle injury. ”But really positive signs out there. Hitting the ball great. I putted much better today. So if I keep showing improvement each and every day like I’ve done, it’s a good sign going into the rest of the season.”
He also revealed what the rest of the season will look like. McIlroy said he will skip the FedEx Cup playoffs opener at The Barclays in two weeks, instead starting at the Deutsche Bank outside Boston.
”I’m going to take a couple of weeks off just to sort of reassess everything,” he said.
He plans to play the final three events of the FedEx Cup playoffs, take another two-week break before the Frys.com Open in California, and he mentioned playing China and Dubai during the European Tour’s final stretch.
MORE MARTIN?: It took a three-hole playoff for Martin Kaymer to emerge as the winner the last time the PGA Championship came to Whistling Straits in 2010.
It felt like a playoff when Kaymer and Branden Grace, who were paired together on Saturday, traded big shots as they climbed the leaderboard in the third round.
Kaymer finished the day at 7 under to put him at 11 under for the tournament. Grace was one better to get to 12 under. They’re both chasing Jason Day, the third-round leader at 15 under.
”So we really feed off each other, and it really pushes you,” Kaymer said about Grace. ”But today was one of those things you really don’t want to lose too many shots. You keep going … and that’s what Branden and me did today.”
The German has a chance to make history on Sunday on the links-style course along Lake Michigan. Only Tiger Woods has won the PGA Championship twice at the same course, claiming the Wanamaker Trophy in 1999 and 2006 at Medinah.
Kaymer is in prime position for his own repeat at Whistling.
”It’s very, very difficult to beat views like this and (have) such an exciting golf course,” Kaymer said. ”So that’s why for me it’s the best course in America that I’ve played.”
GONE FISHIN’: Boo Weekley should leave Whistling Straits with some good fish stories even if he doesn’t win the PGA Championship on Sunday.
The veteran from Jay, Florida, planned to go fishing after gaining seven shots in the third round on Saturday to move to 6 under for the tournament. He was nine shots behind leader Jason Day.
There’s nothing like an afternoon on a boat on Lake Michigan to relieve some stress.
”I don’t know what they got out there in that big old lake. We’re going to find it, though, I can tell you that now,” Weekley said. ”We’re going to find a couple things anyway. I’ll probably run into my psychiatrist when I’m out there.”
Winning the Wanamaker Trophy might be a longshot, but Weekley could still return home with perch or trout.
DIVOTS: First-round leader Dustin Johnson gained four shots on Saturday to move to 9 under for the tournament. He’s tied for eighth going into the final round. … Hiroshi Iwata moved to 6 under on Saturday, gaining two shots in the third round. But that paled in comparison to an impressive second round, when Iwata shot 63 to match the lowest round ever in a major. It was the 27th time the feat has been accomplished. … Fan favorite Steve Stricker was 1-under on Saturday to move to 2 under for the tournament. The Wisconsin native is playing better with a putter he debuted for the tournament.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.