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OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Reigning PGA champion Phil Mickelson sounded resigned to the fact he would not be playing for the U.S. in next month’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
Mickelson has played in every Ryder Cup since making his debut in the biennial tussles between the U.S. and Europe in 1995. His experience and energetic ways in the team room would seemingly prove to be beneficial.
But if the member of the World Golf Hall of Fame who counts six majors on his resume is to extend the streak, he needs to impress U.S. captain Steve Stricker enough to be one of six discretionary selections that would round out the squad.
Stricker will make his six picks two days after next week’s Tour Championship concludes. Mickelson isn’t exactly holding his breath, for he knows he needs a drastic turn to the good with his form and right quick.
“I have not played consistently week in and week out to earn a spot,” Mickelson said Tuesday on the 10th tee at Caves Valley Golf Club as he continued his prep for the BMW Championship with a practice round with Emiliano Grillo.
“There are better players, there are younger players,” Mickelson said. “And unless I were to win this week, or finish whatever I need to finish, like top 4 or top 5, to get into the Tour Championship and then win there, maybe I’d deserve a pick.
“Other than that, I haven’t played at the level consistently week in and week out to deserve a spot. I had one great week at the PGA.”
That he did. At Kiawah Island, Mickelson became the oldest player to win a major as he held off Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen en route to winning his second Wanamaker Trophy to go with his three green jackets and Claret Jug.
But in 17 other starts in 2021, Mickelson, who is 19th in the Ryder Cup standings, has missed seven cuts and posted zero top 10s. He hasn’t played anywhere near his world rank of 33rd. But he has one more week, possibly two, to turn things around.
Mickelson was at Caves Valley on Monday with nary a worry on his mind. While he had missed the cut in last week’s Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club, Mickelson felt secure that his rank in the FedEx Cup standings would remain inside the top 70, the cutoff point for the BMW, and he was getting familiar with this rolling, massive layout.
Then things started happening up and down the leaderboard in the shadow of the Manhattan Skyline and Lady Liberty and his season moved into peril mode.
“I didn’t think it was going to be an issue,” Mickelson said. “Then we started to watch the last hour, half hour, and it became closer than I thought.”
It couldn’t have been any closer. While six players moved into the top 70 with solid weeks of play, Mickelson fell from 58th to 70th and qualified.
“I find the golf course terrific and I am appreciative for the opportunity to play and I really don’t have any to lose,” Mickelson said. “If I go out and have a really great week, I can get into next week. And, if not, I’ll have a few weeks off.”