Despite his PGA Championship win, Phil Mickelson will almost certainly still need a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup. Should he get one? Our team debate
It moved him up to 16th in the Ryder Cup rankings and, even with a major under his belt, and with only six automatic qualifiers in the American team, it looks like Lefty will still need a pick from captain Steve Stricker.
Would you take him to Whistling Straits? Two of our writers have their say…
‘Who wouldn’t want to watch Mickelson’s Ryder Cup swansong?’
You can’t leave a major winner out of the team, writes Steve Carroll, and you don’t leave out the guy that’s just done something that defies age – and every other stereotype we’ve been brought up on when it comes to elite golf.
So put that idea right out of your heads. Phil Mickelson has to play at Whistling Straits. The key is how Steve Stricker handles him.
Put him to work in the team room: cajoling, encouraging, mentoring, and then send him out like some golfing super-sub to break European hearts.
Let him hit bombs, and hellacious seeds, in the fourballs – wouldn’t he be great with Collin Morikawa? – and get those lubricated fans rocking with some short game magic.
But don’t leave him at home. Don’t think of Le Golf National. Think of Hazeltine. Don’t focus on records – you’d have to leave nearly every American player out if you’re going on win and loss ratios. Concentrate on inspiration.
It would surely be his last Ryder Cup as a player. On home soil. He’d be desperate to go down swinging. And who wouldn’t want to watch that?
‘He will get a pick – but is it worth the gamble?’
I’m in a tricky position, writes Alex Perry. As a golf fan and as a Team Europe fan, do I want Phil Mickelson to play at the Ryder Cup? Absolutely I do. He’s an entertainer, and the Ryder Cup needs entertainers.
Would I pick him if I was Ryder Cup captain? Probably not. There’s no room for sentiment when there’s national pride and a cup to be regained.
Yes, that PGA Championship win defied, well, just about everything you can think of, but his form on the PGA Tour this season has been abysmal.
There’s plenty of golf to be played between now and September, sure, but let’s not forget that being the most in-form player heading into a Ryder Cup doesn’t always guarantee you a pick – particularly in the case of Team USA. John Daly won the Open two months before the 1995 showdown. He didn’t go to Oak Hill. Billy Horschel won the last two events of the 2014 PGA Tour season to claim the FedEx Cup. He didn’t go to Gleneagles.
Mickelson has lost more matches than anyone else in the history of the Ryder Cup – yes, I’m aware he’s also played in more than anyone else – and his return in the last four clashes has been 7.5 points. In Paris he didn’t earn a single point and at no stage did he even look like he wanted to be there. “But the course didn’t suit him!” Behave. He’s one of the best players of all time.
Is it worth the gamble?
Mickelson will want to play – he would become the oldest player in Ryder Cup history if he does – and I’m confident Steve Stricker will pick him. But if it was me I’d be locking him in as a vice-captain and getting him into head cheerleader mode immediately.
You’re Steve Stricker for the day. Would YOU take Mickelson to the Ryder Cup? Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.