Phil Mickelson Reluctantly Admits He Doesn’t Deserve a Spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup Team: ‘It Would Be Tough to Justify’
Phil Mickelson is one of the most decorated golfers in Ryder Cup history. He also won the PGA Championship three months ago, proving there’s still plenty of game left in those 51-year-old bones.
But Mickelson would be the first to admit he probably doesn’t deserve a spot on the U.S. roster for the 2021 Ryder Cup coming up in September. We’ll find out soon if team captain Steve Stricker agrees.
Phil Mickelson is a seasoned Ryder Cup veteran
When you think about the best American players to ever compete in the Ryder Cup, Mickelson‘s name is squarely near the top of the list. Lefty holds the Ryder Cup record for most appearances (12), most matches played (47), and most fourball points won (nine). He also ranks fourth all-time with 18 total points won at the event.
Mickelson has played in 12 straight Ryder Cups dating back to 1995, and he holds an 18-22-7 overall record. The U.S. team has a disappointing 3-9 record against the Europeans over that span, but that’s hardly a result of Mickelson’s play.
This year’s U.S. squad is shaping up to be an inexperienced one, so Lefty could bring some much-needed leadership to Whistling Straits next month.
But he needs to make it there first.
Mickelson reluctantly admits he doesn’t deserve a Ryder Cup spot
Despite his extensive Ryder Cup experience and his miraculous win at the PGA Championship earlier this year, Mickelson knows he doesn’t deserve to make the U.S. Ryder Cup roster.
Aside from his major championship triumph back in May, the golf legend has only one top-20 finish on the PGA Tour this season. He has more missed cuts in 2021 (eight) than he has top-50 finishes (six).
“I have three events (to go) and I haven’t had a top-10 outside of the PGA,” Mickelson told ESPN Saturday from the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. “You can’t take somebody that is that inconsistent. I have three events, here and the two playoff events. If I finish high in those events and move up on the list, you never know. But you have to have a little bit more consistency and momentum I think.”
That list Mickelson referenced is the U.S. Ryder Cup team rankings list. The top six names in the rankings automatically qualify for the team, and Stricker will handpick the remaining six. Lefty currently sits in 18th place on the list, which is nearly 6,000 points behind sixth place.
“I probably need to get there (to the TOUR Championship), play well, and have some momentum. I need a couple of good finishes and then it would be easy to justify. But I think with no top-10s it would be tough to justify.”
Should Stricker peg Mickelson as a captain’s pick?
Stricker will be faced with an impossible decision next month when he’s forced to select six captain’s picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. As of now, Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, and Xander Schauffele would make up the six automatic qualifiers.
Jordan Spieth seems to be the obvious answer for the first captain’s pick. He’s had a resurgent season and sports a 7-5-2 career record at the Ryder Cup. It would be tough to leave out Patrick Reed and his 7-3-2 Ryder Cup record, as well.
But it gets more complicated from there. Harris English, Patrick Cantlay, Daniel Berger, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, Scottie Scheffler, and Sam Burns should be a few names on Stricker’s radar come September. Mickelson, on the other hand, shouldn’t be.
His victory at the PGA Championship was inspiring, sure, but it can’t outweigh the horrible year he’s had outside of Kiawah Island. Mickelson ranks 160th on the PGA Tour in scoring average (71.7) and 148th in Strokes Gained: Total (-0.22) this season.
There are more than 20 Americans who deserve a roster spot over Lefty in this year’s Ryder Cup. Stricker will have to put his emotions aside when making his six all-important captain’s picks.
All stats courtesy of PGA Tour