Abu Dhabi: Triple masters and one-time PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson believes golf's inclusion into the 2016 Olympics may generate enough interest to warrant a combined World Tour, especially with the development of the game in emerging markets and a lack of US, European Tour crossover.
Speaking ahead of the $2.7 million prized tournament at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, which kicks off the European Tour's four-week Desert Swing where Mickelson makes his Middle East debut, the 40-year-old from San Diego said, "I think the Olympics is going to bring an excitement level and a support for the game of golf from a number of different countries."
"I don't think it's overly difficult for a country to have two or three star players rise up and perform at the highest level. If that happens you can see guys from many different countries continue to excel. I think it will promote golf in many different countries and create a — World Tour, if you will."
Mickelson was probed on the likelihood of a World Tour following his opinions on how hard it would be for a European to play a more international schedule, this was in light of Mickelson's comments that global play sculpts the ‘ultimate player' in a time where golf is burgeoning globally.
"It's not difficult to get releases to play select events throughout the world. It's challenging for those who play on two tours. When you are from Europe you have an obligation to support the European Tour, it can be very difficult to play the required 15 events in the US. But my situation is reversed. I play roughly 20 events in the US so to be able to fit four or five international events in isn't difficult."
Mickelson added, "Being able to play different courses in different conditions can only enhance me as an overall player I would think."
When asked if he was an ‘overall player' Mickelson said, "Not yet, but I'm trying to get there. I mean, I have a way to go before — I can't ever be considered a world player the way Gary Player was a world player, or even Ernie Els, the way he has become an international player."
"But certainly it is something that I would like to improve. I don't know if I'll ever get to that degree, but I'd like to play more internationally."
Mickelson added that although the Majors in the US and UK are still a main focus the game is growing so fast in the Asian region, "We are getting some world class events throughout the world, Its great to see the game grow and hopefully I'm part of it."