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Mickelson lukewarm over European Tour bid

  • Story Highlights
  • Phil Mickelson says he's not ready yet to commit to the European Tour
  • A number of leading stars are opting to take place in the Race to Dubai
  • World number two Mickelson is defending his HSBC champions title
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(CNN) -- World number two Phil Mickelson appeared to rule out becoming a full-time member of the lucrative 2009 European Tour on the eve of his defense of the HSBC Champions title in Shanghai.

Mickelson will face stiff opposition when he begins his HSBC Champions title defense.

Mickelson was rumored to be on the brink of joining the 13-month tour which starts with the $5 million HSBC event and finishes in November next year with the inaugural Dubai World Championship and its $10 million prize purse.

"I'm not ready to commit to it," Mickelson told a press conference in the Chinese city on Tuesday.

"It might be something I do next year. I wouldn't rule it out," he added.

Players are required to play 12 tournaments -- which include the three World Golf Championship (WGC) events and the four majors -- but Mickelson said that was not the issue.

"When I commit to the European I expect to play -- not just the minimum -- but to really be a part of the tour. I'm just not ready now to commit to that.

"I'm not going to rule it out for the future. I think that's where the game is growing and is heading. The European Tour has made great strides."

Although Mickelson is ruling out membership for now, another American, Anthony Kim, plus Colombian star Camilo Villegas and Australians Robert Allenby, Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy are signing up.

He will face stiff opposition at the Sheshan International Golf Course from an elite invitational field for a tournament dubbed "Asia's Major."

British Open and PGA winner Padraig Harrington, and Masters champion Trevor Immelman are teeing up.

Sergio Garcia, Ryder Cup hero Kim, Villegas, new European number one Robert Karlsson, K.J. Choi and Scott are also in the field.

Only world number one Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, both injured, England's Lee Westwood, who is having his tonsils out this week, and Ernie Els of South Africa are missing from the world's top 10.

Once criticized for seldom playing outside the United States, Mickelson's dramatic victory last year in Shanghai, after a playoff, came in his first foray into Asia. It was also only his second victory outside the U.S.

He's now a major supporter of the international game and wants golf in the Olympics.

"I think the biggest growth opportunity for the game of golf is internationally," he said. "If golf can become an Olympic sport in 2016 ... that will lead to an influx of capital and an increase of opportunities for kids to get into the game."

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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