Golf

'Lefty' brings wealth of experience to Presidents Cup

2017-09-27 14:30
Phil Mickelson (AFP)

Jersey City - As Phil Mickelson prepped for his 12th straight Presidents Cup appearance this week, US team-mate Justin Thomas could only marvel.

"I was one (year old) when he played his first one, which is really crazy to think," the 24-year-old Thomas, the newly crowned FedEx Cup champion who figures to be one of the stars of the show in his Presidents Cup debut at Liberty National Golf Club, said on Tuesday.

The United States will be out to continue what's become a lopsided rivalry against the International team in the biennial match play competition.

Mickelson played in the event's debut in 1994 and has been a fixture ever since as the USA racked up nine wins and a tie with just one defeat to the Internationals.

Combined with his Ryder Cup appearances against Europe, Mickelson will be representing the United States for a 23rd straight time.

He's won 23 Presidents Cup matches with 16 defeats and 12 draws. He has a chance this week to pass Tiger Woods' record of 24 Presidents Cup match wins.

"It's one of the things I'm most proud of, to continue to be a part of this," five-time major winner Mickelson said.

"One of the things I cherish the most are these events.

This year Mickelson needed a captain's pick by Steve Stricker to join the squad.

Stricker said he discussed it with his assistant captains and other players, who were all in favour of "Lefty".

Mickelson hasn't won a tournament since his 2013 British Open triumph at Muirfield.

But he tied for sixth at the Dell Technologies Championship, second event in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs, and his wealth of experience with the nerve-wracking team match play format is invaluable.

"Phil brings a lot of wisdom," said team-mate Rickie Fowler, who like Thomas has a hard time taking in Mickelson's span of sustained excellence.

"He's just good," Fowler said.

"He's great with understanding what it's like being on the team, pairings, how guys can match up, how they're performing out there ... he's definitely a guy that guys look to as well as all of our captains."

Mickelson's experience could be especially valuable in a US team that features six rookies.

Thomas and fellow 24-year-old Jordan Spieth are reckoned to be the players most likely to carry the US standard into the future in team competition.

But they'll face an uphill battle matching Mickelson's record for appearances.

"I think it's going to become harder and harder for players to play at the top level for long periods of time," said Australian Adam Scott, who will be making his eighth Presidents Cup appearance for the Internationals.

"You're just seeing more and more young guys really performing high and less guys over 40 able to maintain golf at the top level," Scott added. "It doesn't mean that you can't win big tournaments past 40, but to stay at the top week in, week out, it seemingly is getting tougher. A record like that may never be touched."

Mickelson isn't so sure.

"I think that it will be done," he said, "because there's so many talented players that I believe will have the longevity.

"But right now, it's something I'm really proud of."

Read more on:    presidents cup  |  phil mickelson  |  golf
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