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Phil Mickelson happy with golf's global expansion

Phil Mickelson has racked up the air miles in pursuit of golf titles and prize money and the American believes the game’s growing globalisation will encourage more players to follow suit.

Mickelson, set to defend his HSBC Champions title in Shanghai next month before playing in the $5 million Singapore Open, said economic conditions and a lack of U.S. golf growth had made it crucial to play all over the world.

“Certainly the dollar weakening over the past few years has made foreign currencies much stronger, making the purses much larger,” the world number two said in a conference call on Wednesday.

“The U.S. golf industry has been stagnant for quite some time, so all of our growth had been occurring on a global basis.

“As a professional golfer we have to adapt to that, and that means playing more internationally because that’s where the opportunities are and that’s where they’ll continue to grow.”

Three-times major winner Mickelson said the European Tour’s new lucrative “Race to Dubai” schedule, which culminates in the $10 million Dubai World Championship finale, had been a massive fillip for the game.

“I think Dubai has taken one of the giant leaps in making the game of golf more global on the quality of events,” he said.

The lefthander has frequently expressed his desire to play more European events and would need to appear in a minimum of 12 tournaments to qualify as a European Tour player.

If he competed in the four majors and three World Golf Championship events, Mickelson would only have to play in five more European Tour events to qualify for the Dubai finale, which offers a first prize of $1.6 million.

With speculation surrounding the Singapore Open possibly being sanctioned by the European Tour, Mickelson said playing in the Southeast Asian city-state would become even more attractive.

“If it were to become a European Tour event it would be great for me because it would be included as one of the now 12 events that are needed to be a European Tour member, which although I haven’t joined it’s something I’m considering,” he added.

The 38-year-old will defend his $5 million HSBC Champions title in Shanghai from Nov. 6-9 and said winning in China had been a major boost to his profile in Asia.

“It was one of my biggest wins internationally and gave me a lot of exposure into China and into many of the Asian markets,” he said.

“The more opportunities we can have where top players can play throughout the world and expose those parts of the world to the game at the highest level I think will help grow the game.”


October 29, 2008

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