Phil Mickelson is now the subject of plenty of Ryder Cup chatter after his victory at the PGA Championship on Sunday. But the 12-time participant said Wednesday that he expects to have to do more in order to be part of the 12-player team that will take on Europe in late September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
“If I’m the captain, I’m not going to want a guy that plays well one week in an entire year,” Mickelson said at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. “And so just because I played really well last week and won a big championship, that does not warrant a spot on the team by any means.
“But I know at least I have an opportunity over the course of the next three months to play at a high level consistently and maybe be in a position to add something to the team.
“If not, we have such a good group of young players, I don’t want to disrupt that, either. We have a lot of talented players, and I’ve had 25 years now of playing, so it may be time to step aside and let these young guys take over, and certainly they are playing well enough and to do it and represent the United States incredibly well. But for me personally, if I could add to the team and not be a hindrance or distraction, I would obviously love to be part of it because they are such special events, and I would love to be able to play.”
Mickelson moved up 36 spots in the U.S. Ryder Cup team standings after his PGA win, to 16th place. The top six players through the BMW Championship in August will automatically qualify for the team, with captain Steve Stricker then getting six at-large picks after the Tour Championship.
With the U.S. Open, the Open, a World Golf Championship event and two FedEx Cup playoff events all part of the schedule, there can still be plenty of volatility.
Mickelson played in his first Ryder Cup in 1995, going 3-0 in a U.S. loss at Oak Hill. But the U.S. team has won just three of the 12 Ryder Cups he has competed in, and he holds the distinction of having the most losses in U.S. Ryder Cup history. He is 18-22-7. Tiger Woods is 13-21-3, and Jim Furyk is 10-20-1.
“I need to see what he’s going to do from this point forward,” Stricker said at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, where he is competing this week. “We still have a lot of play left. I’m rooting for him. He’s a great team player. He’s great in the locker rooms. He’s a great partner. So I’d love to see him continue what he did last week and keep climbing that point list, because I think he’s a huge benefit to our team.
“Bottom line, I think he does us a lot of good, and it was really interesting and cool to see what he did last week, for sure.”
Mickelson has played a role in reshaping the U.S. Ryder Cup effort since 2014, when a task force was formed and a succession plan for captains and vice captains was put in place. At the very least, it would seem Mickelson would be an assistant captain this year; he has yet to serve in that role and is a lock, along with Woods, to be a future captain.
When Mickelson missed the Presidents Cup in 2019, it was the first time he wasn’t on either U.S. team dating to his first appearance in the Presidents Cup in 1994.
Two of Mickelson’s 45 PGA Tour victories came at Colonial Country Club, site of this week’s tournament, one he had committed to well before winning the PGA. He said his plan is to take the next two weeks off leading up to the U.S. Open in his hometown of San Diego at Torrey Pines.
“The week before the U.S. Open they are going to close down for public play, and I’ll try to spend some time out there to just get comfortable on the golf course,” he said. “Honestly, since the redo 20 years ago [Rees Jones redesigned the Torrey Pines course in 2001; Mickelson had won the PGA Tour event there three times before then], I have not played that course as well as I would like to.
“I tried to force it. A lot of pins you can’t go to, you have to play 60, 50 feet away, and a lot of holes I get overly aggressive, obviously that’s my nature. There’s a proper way to play it, and I’ve seen it, and I want to have the discipline to do it, and so I want to spend some time out there to develop a good game plan.”