Mickelson tight-lipped on apparent Presidents Cup Captaincy snub

by | Feb 4, 2021 | 0 comments

Phil Mickelson launching bombs (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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For the very close observers of the game, your eyebrows may have been raised in reading that Davis Love III had been appointed the next USA Presidents Cup Captain. Love III replaces Tiger Woods who led the Americans to victory in late 2019 at Royal Melbourne in Australia.

The appointment of Love III seemed strange as he’s a winning USA Ryder Cup captain, and what the PGA Tour has done is seemingly take a backward step in appointing Love when, for all intents and purposes, the 2022 USA Presidents Cup captaincy decision should have been seen to be going forward. This has been the policy since the embarrassing events immediately following the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles when Mickelson publicly aired his grievances at the selection process of USA captain Tom Watson following the American side’s defeat at the hands of the clearly better organised Europeans.

The golfing cat fight, in front of the world’s media, did lead to the PGA of America, as organisers of the USA Ryder Cup sides, finally adopting the European model going forward where future captains, such as Padraig Harrington, are selected by an in-house fully designated Ryder Cup committee, and you become a vice-captain before moving onto the captaincy role as we see this year with Harrington at Whistling Straits.

You would expect to see the same in Steve Stricker’s USA team but bizarrely it’s thought those picking Love III have taken a big step backwards choosing a former winning captain and not blood someone like Mickelson instead for the 2022 Presidents Cup captaincy ahead ‘Lefty’ then accepting the leading reins for a future a Ryder Cup. This also with Mickelson very likely, if he doesn’t win selection to Stricker’s side, being appointed a vice-captain.

Of course, Mickelson will one day become a USA Ryder Cup captain but he was having none of such talk of ‘backward steps’ over Love III’s choice ahead of teeing-up in this week’s Saudi International.

“I don’t know where to go with that,” Mickelson said. “I mean, those conversations I don’t feel like should be — I don’t feel they should be discussed here but amongst each other.”

As for the 2021 USA Ryder Cup, Mickelson said it would be an “honour” to serve as an assistant captain at this year’s Ryder Cup, but he remains focused on trying to play his way onto the team. Mickelson, who turns 51 in June, currently lies 20th on the USA Team points table and admits he hasn’t yet done enough to even merit consideration. Still, he has plenty of opportunities to earn points with four majors and several other big tournaments before the team is finalised this fall.

“As we stand right now, I haven’t done anything to warrant that,” he said. “So I’ve got to play well. Fortunately, the way the point system is, which is very heavy the year of the Ryder Cup, it gives every player an opportunity. If they play well, they can earn their way on the team.”

Mickelson has played in 12 USA Ryder Cup sides since 1995 and played on three winning sides (1999, 2008 and 2016). He’s also been on 12 USA President Cup teams winning 10 and tied in 2008 and losing in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.

Love III, 56, was a two-time U.S. Ryder Cup captain and will be an assistant to captain Steve Stricker this year at Whistling Straits. The Presidents Cup will be played at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sept. 22-25, 2022 with South Africa’s Trevor Immelman, who won the 2008 Masters and assisted Ernie Els at the 2019 Presidents Cup, named captain of the International team last year.

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