U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk has some tough decisions ahead.
No, we’re not talking about whether Tiger Woods deserves a captain’s pick. Tiger likely took that decision out of Furyk’s hands at the PGA Championship with his dramatic second-place finish. Woods wasn’t one of the eight players who recently made the team on points, but it feels like a formality that he’ll be on Furyk’s squad in France at the end of September.
But what about Phil Mickelson? He doesn’t have a top 10 since May, and last week he missed the cut at the PGA Championship. Does Furyk use a pick on the 48-year-old Mickelson, who is 10th in the Ryder Cup standings, but struggling this summer?
Furyk was in New York on Tuesday and told GOLF.com he won’t make the decision alone.
“I want to let the eight that qualified decompress after the PGA Championship, and then I want to talk to them. I want those eight to feel some ownership of this team.” Furyk said. “I want to get their opinions of who they want to play with, who they want to see on the team, who they trust.”
With eight spots now filled, Furyk already has a veteran-laden team. Seven of the automatic qualifiers have Ryder Cup experience, and Justin Thomas, the lone rookie, is No. 3 in the world and the reigning Player of the Year.
But when it comes to locker-room veteran leadership, no one offers more than Mickelson, who has played 11 straight Ryder Cups dating back to 1995. Toss in the Presidents Cups, and he’s played a whopping 23 consecutive U.S. team events.
When asked if he was feeling pressure to extend that streak to 24, Furyk said, “You can look at it two ways: This the first time Phil hasn’t qualified for a Ryder Cup team on points. Or you can look at the positive side and realize I have a great option.”
Mickelson has played in 45 Ryder Cup matches over his career, compiling a record of 18-20-7. But he’s had a rough summer. Since winning the WGC-Mexico Championship in March, Mickelson has just one top 10: the Wells Fargo Championship in May. But Furyk sees a silver lining in the stats.
“He’s putting very well. He’s actually ranked 2nd in strokes gained putting this season,” Furyk said.
If Mickelson was not selected as a captain’s pick, Furyk didn’t rule out asking him to be a vice captain.
“I have a couple of extra spots and have the opportunity to add a few more vice captains,” he said.
“It’s kind of like what I said about Tiger earlier in the year. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”