HOYLAKE, England -- Phil Mickelson wasn't heading home to San Diego on Sunday with the Claret Jug after a year of taking it to numerous places around town, but he did leave Royal Liverpool with a good feeling about his game and is looking forward to next month's PGA Championship.
Mickelson, the defending champion, finished with a 4-under-par 68 to climb several places, earn some valuable Ryder Cup points, and perhaps most importantly, get some momentum.
"It was a good solid round," Mickelson said. "It was actually a good day for me to kind of get a little bit of confidence, and know that I can get the scores out of it that I feel I deserve and not have to press heading into Akron [WGC-Bridgestone Invitational] and the PGA."
Mickelson still does not have a top-10 finish in 2014 on the PGA Tour, but is looking forward to the next few events. He wants to earn enough points to make it onto the Ryder Cup -- he's never had to be a captain's pick going back to his first team in 1995.
And he feels great about his chances at Valhalla in Louisville, site of the PGA Championship. Lefty came into the Open outside of the top nine automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup, the cutoff coming after the PGA in three weeks.
"It does matter to me," he said. "It's been 19 years now that I've made it on my own and I think it's a record of consistency to play that well to make the team on your own without being a pick for almost two decades. And I'd like to keep that streak going.
"I think if I continue to play the way I did this week, and I believe I will, over in Akron, over in the PGA. ... I think that would be enough to get in on my own. If I don't get in on my own, I don't know if I played well enough this year to deserve a spot. So you want players that are hot, that are playing well. And I need to step up and start doing that."
To that end, Mickelson feels good about the PGA venue.
"I love it," he said. "I played well there in '08 at the Ryder Cup. I played well in my first PGA there in '96, as well as did okay in 2000. I love (Jack) Nicklaus courses. They've been good to me. As high as I'd like to hit it and aggressive with the iron shots, you can take advantage of a lot of the holes there."
It's worth noting that the course being used for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles was designed by Nicklaus.