Ironman Mickelson now sets sights on Ryder Cup in France
Jersey City — The US’s 19-11 romp over the International team in the 2017 Ryder Cup only whetted Phil Mickelson’s appetite for the 2018 Ryder Cup.
The 47-year-old golfer made his 100th match in team competition for the US with a win on Sunday and a 2 & 1 victory over Canadian Adam Hadwin.
Mickelson posted his 26th Presidents Cup match win — extending his record after tying and then surpassing the 24-win mark of Tiger Woods earlier in the week.
"This has been a fun, special week. I’ve never been a part of a team all these years that’s this talented and gone out and lit the course up like this and had such a big lead going into Sunday singles," he said.
The US, up by 11 points on Saturday night, needed just one point from Sunday’s singles to clinch the Cup. "This was a stress-free day for us and that’s just something we’ve never had," said Mickelson, the only man to play in all 12 Presidents Cups and now a veteran of 23 consecutive US match play teams including Presidents and Ryder Cup appearances.
He would dearly love to make it 24 straight teams when the US take on Europe in the Ryder Cup in France in 2018.
"Next year going to Paris and being part of the Ryder Cup team — it’s been 25 years since we won a Ryder Cup over there. That would be a real big goal of mine," he said.
Mickelson has not won a tournament since his 2013 British Open triumph at Muirfield and only made the Presidents Cup team as one of US captain Steve Stricker’s wildcard picks. He is the same age as US Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk, but even on a team packed with 20-something talent — including British Open champion Jordan Spieth, US Open Champion Brooks Koepka and PGA Champion Justin Thomas — the player they playfully dubbed "Grandpa" showed just how useful he can be.
Mickelson finished with three wins and one halved match, partnering with Kevin Kisner to win one foursomes and one fourball and halve one foursomes match before his singles win over Hadwin.
"I’ve got a lot to work hard on and a lot of goals to achieve to make that team," Mickelson said of the US’s date in 2018 with Europe at Le Golf National.
It is back to the drawing board, according to Ernie Els, the man expected to be the next International team captain. With 12 Presidents Cups having produced a single win for the Internationals, in 1998 in Melbourne, and a draw in 2003, change would seem long overdue.
Els, who acted as one of Nick Price’s assistant captains, was not shy about expressing a need for change, particularly when it comes to the role of the PGA Tour, which chooses venues, team-selection criteria and even the naming of captains.
Both outgoing captain Price and Els would like to have a greater say in how their squad is assembled along with tweaks to the current format.
Unable to match the depth of the US, Els suggested fewer players and matches might help level the playing field.
"I think we can go back to the drawing board with the Tour," said Els. "Obviously, playing for less points, I still say would benefit us. We’re playing a very deep US side, and I think less points for us.
"We play these team events every second year and the US team plays every year. So they are a little bit more, I don’t want to say, prepared. I think to put pairings together with a very diverse group as we have is our challenge," he said.
"So, I think fewer matches, less points, will be definitely beneficial to us, but we’ll wait and see, see where we go with the Tour."