Presidents Cup: Mickelson makes memories, plans trip to Paris

PGA: The Presidents Cup-Day Four Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

Presidents Cup: Mickelson makes memories, plans trip to Paris

PGA Tour

Presidents Cup: Mickelson makes memories, plans trip to Paris

JERSEY CITY, N.J.- In what was an All-American Presidents Cup walkover weekend, Phil Mickelson provided memories with his feet.

And his arms.

And his hips.

Playing with rookie Kevin Kisner in the final four-ball match Friday, Mickelson drained a 12-foot birdie putt on 18 that gave the U.S. a 1-up victory over the International team’s Jason Day and Marc Leishman. What followed wasn’t exactly the Bolshoi Ballet, but you could call it choreographed.

In an homage to the comedy movie “The Three Amigos,” Mickelson and Kisner raced toward each other, crossed their arms across their chests, turned their heads, then thrust their pelvises, celebrating the victory.

Some called it awkward. Mickelson called it awesome.

“I think we kind of nailed it,” he said.

Mickelson’s dance moves are indisputably better than his selfie skills. On Thursday he was mercilessly teased for his snapshot with former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Lefty barely made the lens.

“I get that I can’t dance. I get that I can’t take selfies, but I can putt,” Mickelson said.

The Americans’ 19-11 Presidents Cup rout of the Internationals was a welcome respite for the 47-year-old PGA Tour veteran, who has not missed an appearance on a U.S. Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup team since 1993. It’s been a tough time for the man who has won five major championships.

There was his highly publicized split with long-time caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay. He hasn’t won on Tour in four years, his best 2017 finish a T-5 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. He collected just five top-10s on the year. His top result at a major was T-22 at the Masters. Mickelson didn’t play the U.S. Open, the one major that has kept him from the career Grand Slam, in order to attend his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation. Missed cuts followed at the British Open and PGA Championship.

Some doubted whether Mickelson was worthy of a spot on this Presidents Cup squad. His No. 30 Official World Golf Ranking and mediocre form made him a question mark. Still, U.S. captain Steve Stricker knew the experience and leadership Lefty would bring to a largely untested Presidents Cup team, featuring first-timers Charley Hoffman, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell and Kisner. Pairing Mickelson with Kisner proved perfect.

“Phil is a guy that likes fiery players, and Kiz is one of those players,” Stricker said. “He talks a lot of smack when we’re out there having fun and playing. He’s a little bulldog, and Phil really gravitates towards that, and so does Kiz to Phil. It came along pretty naturally for them.
“They are very excited to go out with one another.”

Mickelson, supported on site by his wife, Amy, and children Evan and Sophia, was vindicated by going 3-0-1 at Liberty National. He surpassed Tiger Woods for most victories in team play, though in typical Phil fashion, he also has one of the highest loss records. He closed out Adam Hadwin 2-and-1 to win his singles showdown Sunday, the last of the day, as the French champagne flowed and Old Glory waved. A hearty hug from assistant captain and long-time adversary Woods ensued.

The counsel Mickelson provided to the U.S.’s young guns on and off the course can’t be underestimated. He looks like a man fully intent on being part of the 2018 Ryder Cup in France.

That event is a year away. Plenty of time for some dance lessons for someone who clearly believes he still has much more to celebrate in the game.

“Next year going to Paris and being part of the Ryder Cup team, it’s been 25 years since we won a Ryder Cup over there,” Mickelson said. “That would be a real big goal of mine.

“I’ve got a lot to work hard on, look forward to and a lot of goals to achieve to make that team and be a part of it, but I think that would be really a career moment for me if we could go over there and bring back … keep the Ryder Cup.”

(Note: This story appears in the October 2017 issue of Golfweek.)

Latest

More Golfweek
Home