Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the Hawk & Purk podcast, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.
Should Phil Mickelson be a member of the 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup team?
Hawk's take: Despite his historic triumph at the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson remains far on the outside looking in -- he’s currently 17th in the standings. Captain Steve Stricker has six picks, however, and at the risk of suppressing a giggle, Philly Mick should get one of them. Has he earned it? Are you kidding? The PGA was his only top-20 finish in 20 starts since last September. Just two weeks ago, he kicked off his British Open with a ghastly 80, leading to his 12th missed cut in those 20 appearances.
So why should Stricker even consider Lefty? Because he’s Phil Freakin’ Mickelson, not Harris English. Because he’s one of the 10 or 12 greatest players of all-time. Because that unfathomable performance at Kiawah Island wasn’t all that long ago. Because no golfer on earth is more likely to catch lightning in a bottle. Because nobody gets more people fired up, inside or outside the ropes. Because he’s a great teammate. And because he’s played in this thing 12 times before, not always very well, but an experienced solider is a lot more valuable than some gun-shy kid.
Besides, when you look at the seven players between English (ninth) and Mickelson, there isn’t a single guy who just has to be on this squad, who is less of a risk as a captain’s choice than the man with six major titles and 45 PGA Tour victories. Jordan Spieth (seventh) and Patrick Reed (eighth) are locks for at-large berths. After that, it’s all about what you bring to the table. Phil Mickelson offers a full buffet.
Purk's take: Yes, he’s Phil Mickelson. And, of course, we all know that he won 25 percent of the major championships this year. Forty-five victories on the PGA Tour, including six majors, makes him one of the best players in history. Obviously, he is still capable of making magic in a short period of time.
However, a resume has never won anybody a Ryder Cup match, just ask the likes of Tiger Woods, who owns a horrible match record -- 13-21-3 -- given that he’s one of the two greatest players ever. Mickelson’s Cup curriculum vitae isn’t much better. Lefty leads the U.S. with 47 matches played in 12 Ryder Cups. But his record is 18-22-7, including zero points in two matches in France in 2018.
Perhaps more importantly, Mickelson has played on only three winning teams in a dozen Ryder Cups. This year is the perfect time to say goodbye to all the so-called veteran leadership and players “good in the team room” -- one of the most overrated aspects of the Ryder Cup -- and welcome as much new blood as possible. Which is precisely why U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker should absolutely not waste one of his precious six picks on a player with so much scar tissue.
Yes, he’s Phil Mickelson. He can still dominate the ping pong table in the team room -- as a vice captain.