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Mickelson schedule cuts will come but not before majors

U.S. golfer Phil Mickelson speaks during a news conference at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) in Kuala Lumpur October 23, 201
U.S. golfer Phil Mickelson speaks during a news conference at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) in Kuala Lumpur October 23, 201

By Andrew Both

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson plans to play in the week before each of the major championships next year despite making as yet unspecified cuts to his overall schedule for 2014, the British Open champion said on Wednesday.

The 43-year-old American said he would compete in Houston before the Masters, in Memphis before the U.S. Open, in Scotland before the British Open and in Akron before the PGA Championship.

Mickelson has clearly given particular thought to his preparations for the U.S. Open, the only major missing from his collection and a tournament where he has been runner-up six times.

Victory at the Pinehurst No. 2 course next June would make him only the sixth player to complete the modern Grand Slam and he is determined not to go to North Carolina underprepared.

"I like to have a three-week stretch heading into the majors, although (next year the lead-up to the US Open) will be the only three-week stretch," he said on the eve of the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament.

"Playing Memphis the week before is very helpful (because) they are very similar grasses as Pinehurst, with the exception of the greens.

"So I plan to play Memphis (St Jude Classic) and I plan to play Memorial the week before that and I'll have some time in Pinehurst prior to that."

Left unsaid was which tournaments the five-times major winner would scrap, although his comments suggested the PGA Tour's season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs might be on the chopping block.

"It really took a lot out of me these last couple of months where we played nine out of 12 weeks, and it was difficult for me to get the proper preparation for each tournament," he added.

"I don't want to enter a tournament where I feel unprepared, and that's the baseline I'm going to use as I build my schedule next year."

The success U.S. Masters champion and world number two Adam Scott has enjoyed since cutting his schedule to the bone has not escaped the attention of his rivals.

While Mickelson has the latitude to make cuts, European players such as Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who play both the European and PGA Tours, do not have as much room for manoeuvre if they want to remain eligible for the Ryder Cup.

"I know every decision that Adam Scott makes is based around what is going to help him leave a legacy and win more major championships," said U.S. Open champion Rose.

"He's pretty ruthless with that decision-making and it's paid off. (Cutting back) is something I'm trying to find the right balance to."

Poulter, like Mickelson a former winner of the HSBC Champions, said his eccentric dress sense would be on display at a similar number of tournaments next year.

"I won't be changing my schedule an awful lot," he said. "I'll still maintain my two cards and I need to do that because obviously I want to play the Ryder Cup."

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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