Phil Mickelson Named USA Ryder Cup Vice Captain

Phil Mickelson will be with Team USA for the Ryder Cup, but not in the capacity we’re used to. Mickelson was named vice captain on Wednesday by USA captain Steve Stricker.

Phil being left off the playing team is hardly a surprise. He’s 51 years old, and his game has predictably fallen off. He really hasn’t played like he had in the past, save for a weekend in Kiawah Island where he summoned up one last magical performance back in May.

The best way I can put how Phil Mickelson has been a mainstay in the Ryder Cup is this. Mickelson played in his first Ryder Cup before I was born. His first Ryder Cup took place in September of 1995, I wasn’t born until that November. 26 years later, Phil will be on the sidelines for the first time.

Mickelson had compiled a record of 18-22-7 over his 12 Ryder Cups. He also holds the records for the most matches played at 47 and fourball points with 9.

“I’m humbled and honored to be a part of this year’s Ryder Cup as an assistant captain. Thank you Captain Steve Stricker for including me and I hope to help in any way possible,” Mickelson announced in a tweet.

Phil did make the decision interesting for Steve Stricker. He snuck into the BMW Championship in the 70th and final position to earn a few more points towards his final total, on the last event counting towards the standings.

Ultimately, he finished in the 20th spot in the USA points standings. A lot of that was built on the aforementioned wizardry he pulled off in South Carolina at the PGA Championship. The choice was pretty easy to skip over him.

“You just always want the guys to play their best golf,” Mickelson said after being asked about the team’s chemistry. “If they play their best golf, the US team is really strong with a lot of great young players, a lot of young talent. But you’ve got to get the best golf out of them.”

Phil should be a great vice captain given the goldmine of experience he has from being on every team in the last quarter century. He’s been there for the shellackings by Team Europe in the early and mid 2000s, the triumph of victory in 2008 at Valhalla, and the collapse, or if you ask the Europeans, the Miracle at Medinah, where the USA blew a 10-6 lead heading into singles matches on the final day, leading to a 14.5 to 13.5 comeback win for Europe.

He’ll have plenty of advice to give the younger American players, especially the rookies like Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, and Patrick Cantaly. All of them are among the best in the world, but the Ryder Cup is a different beast. You’ve all watched it before, the feel is different, the energy is different, the crowds are different. Phil can help guide them through it.

It’s been 3 years since the last Ryder Cup. Hopefully Team USA can have more success at Whistling Straits, and for Phil Mickelson, learn a few things being on the captain side, knowing full well he will be the captain in the near future.