For the first time since 1993, this year’s US Ryder Cup team WON’T feature Phil Mickelson.
Despite winning his sixth major – the US PGA Championship – in record-breaking fashion in May, the 51-year-old finished well outside the automatic qualifying spots in 20th place and was overlooked for one of captain Steve Stricker’s six wild cards.
Instead, Mickelson will swap his clubs for a walkie-talkie and a golf buggy as he takes on a new role as assistant to Stricker for the match at Whistling Straits later this month.
This brings to an end a streak of 12 consecutive Ryder Cup appearances for the left-hander, during which time he played 47 matches, contributed 18 points and played alongside 58 of his fellow countrymen.
Unfortunately for Mickelson, his time playing in the match coincided with a period of European dominance. For that reason, he was on the winning side only three times and holds the dubious distinction of having suffered more defeats in the match – a whopping 22 – than any other player. No American has endured more singles losses, meantime, than Phil, who has six.
Even so, you only get these “records” by playing in lots of Ryder Cups – and you only play in lots of Ryder Cups by playing at the highest possible standard for a long period of time.
Mickelson has done exactly that.
Perhaps nothing demonstrates his longevity better than this…
Of the 12 players who make up the US team this year, three weren’t even born the last time a Mickelson-less America contested the Ryder Cup.
Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa were all barely more than a twinkle in their parents’ eyes when the 1993 match took place at The Belfry, Mickelson making his debut at Oak Hill in 1995.
Indeed, the last time the US played a Ryder Cup without Phil, Dustin Johnson – the oldest player on this year’s US side – was only nine. Four more were under a year old.
Of the five European qualifiers so far confirmed, meantime, Rory McIlroy was only four, whilst like Morikawa, Schauffele and Scheffler, US Open champion Jon Rahm and rookie Viktor Hovland weren’t yet born.
As we said: longevity.