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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari  (Getty Images)
Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari (Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson will seek to rekindle his love affair with China this week, having admitted to suffering “one of the biggest lows of my career” at The Ryder Cup.

Mickelson was one of Team USA’s star performers in last month’s biennial showpiece at Medinah, striking up an effective partnership with Keegan Bradley.

However, the former was ultimately involved in one of the pivotal singles matches on Sunday, his dramatic defeat to Justin Rose proving hugely significant as Europe fought back from 10-6 down to record a memorable triumph.

Ahead of this week’s WGC - HSBC Champions, an event he has won on two occasions, Mickelson reflected on his Ryder Cup heartache.

“I think the first two weeks following the Ryder Cup was a really tough low, one of the biggest lows of my career,” said the 42 year old.

“It was a very emotional time because we really thought we were going to win. We expected to win; we were playing well and we thought that we were going to do it on Sunday.

“I think that the disappointment will last a lot longer than a month. I feel that over the next two years, we'll still have the same disappointment from not winning this year's Ryder Cup.”

Mickelson is at least able to take some positives from Medinah.

“Looking back, there was some good that came from it in that I had a great couple of days playing with Keegan as a partner,” he added.

“I have this new kind of excitement and energy that Keegan has and I'm excited about working on my own game and seeing what areas I can improve on from The Ryder Cup.”

This year, the WGC - HSBC Champions is being staged at Mission Hills GC in Shenzhen for the first time, meaning Mickelson will return to action on a course designed by European Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal.

Having enjoyed success at the tournament’s previous venue, Sheshan International GC in Shanghai, the left-hander is relishing a fresh challenge.

“I enjoyed our first time in Shanghai, but I think this golf course is wonderful, too,” he explained.

“The fact that the golf tournament is moving is nothing different than what we have amongst all of the big Major Championships in golf. This is a great site with a great golf course to host it.

“I played the course for the first time this morning; Keegan and I played a practice round and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was fun to play.

“(There is a) great mixture of holes and challenges, the greens are very fair and I think it's going to be a fun course.”

Mickelson’s views were echoed by Bradley, who is also making his first visit to Mission Hills.

“I think the course is unbelievable,” said the 2011 US PGA Champion.

“It's just a great golf course. It's challenging but also you can score very well if you hit it well, and the greens are great.”

Following his own Ryder Cup disappointment, Bradley admitted victory this week would represent a welcome boost.

“A win here any time is amazing, and I think that it would help all of the Americans and especially myself,” he added.

Bubba Watson, who had never previously visited China, is another high-profile player from the States in the field this week.

“I've heard about Mission Hills throughout the years and how great the golf courses are around here, so I was really excited when we got here this morning,” said Watson.

“I've always thought this was a beautiful place, always some place I wanted to visit. When we landed in Hong Kong, we came across some big bridges to get over here, and the waterways, the coastline off those waterways right there were beautiful, just like I've seen in the movies. So everything looked like it was supposed to.

“Then this place is pretty amazing. I love golf, so this is what intrigues me, seeing the mountains around the golf course.”

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