An already hefty Dominion Energy Charity Classic field got a big boost from a legendary lefty Wednesday.
The tournament announced that Phil Mickelson will play in the event, set to be contested Oct. 16-18 at The Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course, as part of PGA Tour Champions schedule. It’ll be just the second start on the tour for Mickelson. The circuit has a minimum age of 50, and Mickelson turned 50 on June 16.
Steve Schoenfeld, the executive director of the DECC, said that Mickelson’s team reached out at the beginning of the week expressing interest in the tournament. That led up to Mickelson’s confirmation.
“The players talk a lot. They’re basically like a traveling family out there, week to week,” Schoenfeld said. “So they talk a lot about various events. And I would imagine that they got some of the news from some of the other guys that they’ve heard good things about our tournament.”
Mickelson adds another shot of star power to the fifth playing of the DECC, which will include Ernie Els and Jim Furyk for the first time this year as well.
The World Golf Hall of Famer has 44 PGA Tour victories, including five majors: the Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), PGA Championship (2005) and Open Championship (2013).
The San Diego native hasn’t played in an event in Virginia as an individual since he competed at Kingsmill in Williamsburg in the 1993 Michelob Championship, though he did play on U.S. Presidents Cup-winning teams at Gainesville’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2005.
Mickelson’s most recent tournament was the U.S. Open at the Winged Foot Golf Club in New York three weeks ago, though he missed the cut there. Mickelson won his very first PGA Tour Champions event in August, the Charles Schwab Cup Series at Ozarks National Golf Course in Missouri.
Under the PGA’s altered schedule, the Masters are still ahead, Nov. 12-15.
“Most know that [Mickelson] likes to play a lot leading into majors,” Schoenfeld said. “And with the Masters coming up in November this year ... it certainly could be something that he’s thinking about. So he wants to get out there and play a little bit before the Masters.”
The DECC has been named a schedule favorite by PGA Tour Champions players in three out of the four years it’s been held. It’s typically part of the tour’s Charles Schwab Cup playoffs, and reserved for the top 72 players in the standings.
But because o event cancellations, the 2020 schedule was merged with the 2021 slate and there are no playoffs this calendar year. So this year’s DECC, which will be closed to spectators and broadcast on the Golf Channel, is open to 81 players and a greater variety of them.
“The field was already shaping up to be fantastic, with so many great players coming to Richmond,” Schoenfeld said. “So to add Phil’s name to that group really puts us over the top. So we’re excited.”