Phil Mickelson closing in on Ryder Cup records
Phil Mickelson was such a strong figure in the Ryder Cup with his voice that it can be easy to overlook his contributions on the course.
He was the catalyst for change when the Americans lost in Scotland two years ago. He was part of the Ryder Cup Task Force, and he remains on the committee. To listen to the players, Mickelson was the most motivational speaker in the team room.
As for his play?
''I've had a lot of fun this week,'' Mickelson said. ''More fun than you can ever imagine.''
Mickelson made 10 birdies in his halve with Sergio Garcia, giving him a 2-1-1 record, his third straight Ryder Cup with a winning record. Lefty already holds the Ryder Cup record by qualifying for 11 consecutive teams dating to 1995, and his longevity is moving him up the list of other records.
He now has played 45 matches, trailing only Nick Faldo (46) for most ever in the Ryder Cup. His 18 victories trail only Arnold Palmer (22) and Billy Casper and Lanny Wadkins (each with 20). Wadkins was the U.S. captain when Mickelson made his debut at Oak Hill in 1995 and went 3-0.
Mickelson also holds the record with eight victories in fourballs matches, eclipsing the seven won by Palmer and Wadkins.
Mickelson made his 11th straight team on the strength of his runner-up finish to Henrik Stenson at the British Open. Two years ago, he made the team in the final qualifying event with a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship.
If he were to make the 2018 team for France, he surely would surpass Faldo's record for most matches. He now has contributed 21+ points, which is two points behind Palmer's U.S. record and 3+ points behind Faldo's record of 25 points.
Mickelson has never been a captain's pick in the Ryder Cup. If he doesn't qualify for a 12th straight team, it will be interesting to see if he merits a pick. Mickelson was No. 30 in the Presidents Cup standings last year, the lowest position of any captain's pick. The players wanted him, and Mickelson did his part in South Korea by going 3-0-1. That likely will be considered.
The oldest Ryder Cup player was Raymond Floyd at age 51, a captain's pick in 1993. Jay Haas was 50 when Hal Sutton picked him in 2004.