Phil Mickelson favors 1 word in assessing Ryder Cup captaincy chances

Phil Mickelson pictured at the LIV Golf Invitational at Trump National Doral Miami on Oct. 21, 2023, in Doral, Fla.

Phil Mickelson explained Wednesday why he doesn't think he would be the best fit as a Ryder Cup captain.

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It wasn’t that long ago — 2022! — when Phil Mickelson’s viral comments about what was then a start-up LIV Golf league led to worldwide headlines, which caused him to step away from the game and even miss that year’s Masters and his defense of the PGA Championship.

And that was just the beginning. A staunch defender of LIV Golf, its players and its future ever since the Saudi-backed league launched in 2022, Mickelson was also quick to criticize the PGA Tour and its commissioner Jay Monahan. LIV supporters loved the candid, freewheeling Mickelson. Adversaries, refusing to be silenced, fired back.

Mickelson was divisive, and he knew it.

In fact, in an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, Mickelson said a form of the word divisive four times in a 350-some-word answer to a question about his Ryder Cup future. He leaned heavily on the adjective as he explained why he wouldn’t be the best choice for 2025 Ryder Cup captain at Bethpage Black on Long Island.

“I’ve had 12, 13 opportunities to be a part of the Ryder Cup — 12 as a player, one as a vice captain — and I’ve loved every minute of it and cherish those moments and those life experiences,” Mickelson said. “I don’t feel I’m the right guy to be involved with the team because I’m a very divisive character right now, if you will. And I understand that that the players on the PGA Tour, there’s a lot of hostilities towards me, and I don’t feel I’d be the best leader for them going forward.

“I think that as a Ryder Cup captain, you have to be kind of a unifier and have these relationships solidified and somebody that you want to follow. And right now I’ve been very divisive, and I’m OK with that. I knew that was going to be the case. I knew that it was going to take a couple of years and that I was going to take a lot of hits and a lot of divisiveness.”

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Despite all the divisiveness, Mickelson has had a memorable past 12 months. He tied for second at the Masters, but even more important was what happened in June, when the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi PIF announced their (still pending) partnership. Now the once-conflicting golf leagues are seemingly en route to working together, or at least finding a way to live together. Suddenly, much of what Mickelson said or did over the past couple of years had been vindicated. (And that’s not to mention the most recent feather in Mickelson’s cap: Jon Rahm’s decision to leave the PGA Tour to join Mickelson at LIV Golf.)

Mickelson told McAfee he believes the things he has said or done over the past couple of years were in the best interest of pushing the game forward. Things such as player pay structure, player rights and helping the sport appeal to a younger generation are issues he thinks will be solved in time.

As for who will captain the 2025 U.S. Ryder Cup team against Luke Donald and the Europeans, that is still to be decided. LIV Golf members are allowed to play on the U.S. Ryder Cup team — as Brooks Koepka did last year — and that’s unlikely to change given the pending merger. But does the newfound chumminess between the sport’s two most well-known leagues mean Mickelson could snag the captain’s gig after all? Not long ago, before LIV Golf, Mickelson was essentially a shoo-in to captain the Americans at Bethpage Black, in an area where Lefty is beloved by the rabid New York fanbase. But now?

“As a divisive individual, I don’t think I’m the best unifier going forward for the Ryder Cup,” Mickelson said. “And that’s fine because I’ve had so many great memories with it. It’s time for other people to be able to create their own memories, opportunities and life experiences that the Ryder Cup provides.”

You can watch Mickelson’s complete appearance on the Pat McAfee Show here.

Josh Berhow Editor

As’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at