Family man Mickelson again opts for aerial route to Riviera

Updated: Feb 17, 2011, 09:47 AM IST

California: Phil Mickelson has taken the aerial route to the Northern Trust Open for the last four years, a successful strategy that has yielded two wins and one runner-up spot at Riviera Country Club.

This week will be no different for the Masters champion who will be bidding for his first PGA Tour victory of the season while spending as much time as possible at home with his family.

Mickelson, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe outside San Diego, has a one-hour commute for the 192-km (119-mile) journey to Riviera via nearby Santa Monica airport.

"I enjoy staying there (at home)," the American world number four told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for Thursday`s opening round.

"But I`m a little concerned the next day or two getting in (by air) with some of the (forecast) low minimums of the clouds."

Mickelson had to re-route from Santa Monica to Van Nuys airport on Wednesday because of low cloud cover and overcast morning conditions are expected for the rest of the week.

However the four-times major winner was in upbeat mood to be back at Riviera where he triumphed in 2008 and 2009 and lost in a playoff to compatriot Charles Howell III in 2007.

"The course is in great shape and we`re excited to play this tournament," Mickelson said before taking part in the pro-am competition.

The American left-hander has made a habit of performing well on the West Coast swing at the start of the PGA Tour season and has posted two top-10s in three starts over the last two months.

He tied for ninth on Sunday at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am where he felt his game was close to his best.

"Things are good, I`ve been playing well," said Mickelson. "I`ve got just a slight hurdle to get over where I`ve got to get the scores down to how I feel I`m playing."

"Some of that will be course management, some of that will just be getting a couple of putts to drop, but I feel like I`m right on the cusp of playing some really good golf."

Mickelson is scheduled to tee off from the 10th at 1212 local (2012 GMT) on Thursday in a high-profile grouping with Britons Paul Casey, the world number six, and ninth-ranked Luke Donald.

Bureau Report