By Brian Wacker
Phil Mickelson. Photo by Golffile
Phil Mickelson’s stretch of consecutive weeks in the top 50 of the World Ranking could end this week at the CJ Cup after nearly 26 years.
Yet that’s not the only decades-long run that he might see snapped in the near future. If Tiger Woods doesn’t take him with a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup team set to play in December in Australia, Mickelson’s streak of playing on every U.S. team since the event’s inception in 1994 will come to an end as well.
And if you listen to Mickelson, it sounds resolved to the fact that he won’t be among Woods’ four final selections.
“I have not played well in the last seven, eight months,” the 49-year-old said from the CJ Cup in South Korea on Wednesday. “There are much better options of players that have played consistently at a high level that deserve to be on the team, and I have not.
“Even if I were to win [this week], I have not done enough to warrant a pick. I’m not asking for one, I don’t expect one.”
From a pure numbers standpoint, he isn’t wrong.
Though Mickelson had a runner-up at the Desert Classic in January and won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, he has struggled since with just one finish in the top 35 and eight missed cuts in his last 18 starts.
When the eight automatic spots on the Presidents Cup team were finalized following the BMW Championship in August, Mickelson finished 16th on the points list.
Among those ahead of him vying for the four remaining spots: Tony Finau; U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland; ever-popular Rickie Fowler; the team’s Captain America, Patrick Reed; and Woods, who has not-so-subtly hinted that he might use one of his picks on himself.
The flip side of the argument for Mickelson to be on the team when the U.S. heads to Royal Melbourne Dec. 12-15 is his popularity with fans and relationship with Woods.
Still, it sounds like Mickelson, who has lost weight recently and beefed up his playing schedule this fall, has his sights on other goals.
“I think there’s a lot better options for the U.S. side,” he said. “I would like to add that I am starting to play much better golf and I’m excited about this upcoming season. And I’m excited about making the Ryder Cup team next year, and I plan on doing that.”
Indeed, Mickelson has played on every Ryder Cup team since 1995 and next year’s matches at Whistling Straits would be his 13th straight appearance in that event. Suffice it to say, that’s a streak he’s not ready to end just yet.