News & Opinion

Phil Mickelson sees way to make Ryder Cup team

Phil Mickelson at pro-am before 2021 Saudi International
Phil Mickelson, competing in the pro-am Wednesday before the Saudi International, knows that he’s a long shot to make a 13th consecutive Ryder Cup, but he says it’s still possible.

It’s a long shot, Mickelson acknowledges, but there’s a sure-fire way for him to qualify for a 13th consecutive match: Start winning

Phil Mickelson acknowledges that he hasn’t played well enough to contend for a spot on this year’s U.S. team, but he has something in his favor: time.

Mickelson, speaking in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday before the start of the European Tour’s Saudi International, said the coming months will be key for his chance at making a 13th consecutive appearance in the biennial series against Europe.

“I would like to obviously play, but I have not played well enough to warrant consideration,” he said. “However, there's a lot of golf left, and if I play well, if I can win a couple tournaments, I think that I might warrant some consideration. But as we stand right now, I haven't done anything to warrant that. So, I've got to play well.”

Mickelson, 50, has not won on a major worldwide professional tour in nearly two years, at the 2019 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He did manage to post consecutive victories in his first two starts on the Champions Tour last year, but that means nothing in his Ryder Cup quest.

He ranks 40th on the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, from which the top six will qualify automatically. Captain Steve Stricker will have six at-large selections, which will be two more than usual, to complete his 12-man team. The expansion from the customary four captain’s picks was made by the PGA of America because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on qualifying for the Ryder Cup, which was postponed from 2020.

“Fortunately, the way the points system is, which is very heavy the year of Ryder Cup, it gives every player an opportunity,” said Mickelson, whose performance this week at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City will not count toward his quest to make the U.S. team. “If they play well, they can earn their way on the team.”

Since he tied for third in his debut in Saudi Arabia last year, Mickelson has posted spotty results. He has contended in only two events – third at Pebble Beach and T-2 at the FedEx St. Jude – in his past 17 starts on the PGA Tour. He tied for 53rd last week in the Farmers Insurance Open in his native San Diego, one week after missing the cut at The American Express. Mickelson, whose 44 career victories ranks ninth all-time and includes five major championships, has slipped to No. 73 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Should Mickelson be unable to make the team, he would welcome a spot on Stricker’s staff for the Sept. 24-26 matches at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.

“It would be an honor to be part of the team as a vice captain, if that's what Steve Stricker, our captain, wants."

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