Phil Mickelson on Ryder Cup chances: Need to play well more than once a year

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Phil Mickelson’s historic victory at the PGA Championship not only bolstered his chances of completing the career Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.

It also put him back on the radar for the Ryder Cup.

An afterthought for the Americans because of his listless play over the past year, Mickelson’s win at Kiawah Island vaulted him 36 spots in the standings, up to No. 16 – sandwiched between reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Scottie Scheffler and rising star Sam Burns.

Mickelson made 24 consecutive U.S. teams before he was left off the 2019 Presidents Cup. So in the afterglow of his PGA win, what are his thoughts now on donning the red, white and blue again at Whistling Straits?

“If I’m the captain, I’m not going to want a guy that plays well one week in an entire year,” Mickelson told reporters Wednesday at the Charles Schwab Challenge. “And so just because I played really well last week and won a big championship, that does not warrant a spot on the team by any means, but I know I at least have an opportunity over the course of the next three months to play at a high level consistently and maybe be in a position to add something to the team.”

Where Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka are in latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings

Mickelson seemed genuinely torn on the idea of playing another cup at age 51 because he'd potentially be taking a spot from an up-and-comer who could help the Americans over the next decade.

“We have such a good group of young players, I don’t want to disrupt that either,” he said. “We have a lot of talented players, and I’ve had 25 years now of playing, so it may be time to step aside and let these young guys take over, and certainly they are playing well enough to do it and to represent the United States incredibly well. But for me personally, if I could add to the team and not be a hindrance or a distraction, I would obviously love to be a part of it because they are such special events, and I would love to be able to play for Captain (Steve) Stricker.”

Stricker has been friends and teammates with Mickelson over the past two decades. Because the Ryder Cup was pushed back a year because of the pandemic, Stricker now has six captain’s picks to make along with the six automatic qualifiers. As of now, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele are in line for automatic berths. 

The U.S. team will be finalized over the next three months, with the Ryder Cup now scheduled for Sept. 24-26.

“All I have now is an opportunity to show consistency over the next three months, because one event – that’s not the guy you want that plays well one week,” Mickelson said. “You want to know what you’re getting, and if I can do that consistently now for the next three months, then I might be able to really add something to the team. But if not, it’s time for the young guys to take over and run with it, because they are so talented.”