- Farrell Evans, Golf
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PARAMUS, N.J. -- Phil Mickelson has his sights set on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, which will mark the first time since 1904 in St. Louis that golf will be a part of the Games.
"I don't know why it's so important to me but it is," Mickelson said Tuesday at the Barclays. "I want to be a 46-year-old Olympian. So 2015 and 2016 are years I want to really focus on and I want to make sure I'm ready again."
Mickelson arrived at the Ridgewood Country Club for this year's first leg of the four-event FedEx Cup playoffs after his best finish of the season, a second at the PGA Championship two weeks ago.
"The PGA was a big week for me because it was the first time this year my game was back," the five-time major champion said. "It gave me an excitement and energy heading into the FedEx Cup and Barclays here that my game is back and I'm ready to compete and get back into contention.
"It was so fun being up there again, and the nerves and the excitement of it all, it got me excited."
There was a mild controversy on Sunday night of the PGA over the officials' handling of the final hole. Eventual champion Rory McIlroy and his group were allowed to play their second shots on the 72nd hole before Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, playing one group ahead, could finish the hole. But Mickelson continued to say Tuesday that the decision had no effect on the outcome of the tournament.
"It's very common for us to have players run ahead, tee off ... that's absolutely normal," he said. "What we don't normally do on the PGA Tour, which is not a big deal, is play up the last hole together. We usually tee off and then the groups fall back in order.
"That was the only difference we did but it's not going to affect the outcome. It's only going to help the event finish on Sunday with all the people there rather than come back the next morning for just a couple shots."
Mickelson's performance at the PGA Championship helped him secure a record 10th straight Ryder Cup appearance.
To make the 2016 U.S. men's Olympic golf team, the San Diego native likely will need to be in the top 15 in the world rankings as of July 11 that year. Each country is limited to four players.
Mickelson's immediate concern is playing well in the Barclays and competing for the $10 million prize for the playoffs champion, an award he has never taken in the eight-year history of the series.
"To start the FedEx Cup here on a great course like Ridgewood, and it's in the best shape it's ever been, we are going to have an exciting week and exciting month of golf," he said.
If the 42-time tour event winner doesn't manage to win one of the four playoff events, it will mark the first time since 2003 that he hasn't won on the PGA Tour, potentially ending the longest current streak of 10 consecutive years with at least one victory.
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