Phil Mickelson named to 2017 USA Presidents Cup team

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Rest easy, New York. Phil Mickelson is coming to the Big Apple for this month’s Presidents Cup.

Mickelson, 47, a longtime favorite in New York, and Charley Hoffman, a 40-year-old rookie, were named by captain Steve Stricker to fill out his 12-man U.S. team on Wednesday afternoon.

“Phil brings a unique dynamic to New York,” Stricker said Wednesday. “He’s loved everywhere, but especially New York. He’s a favorite son.”

International captain Nick Price also named his final two team members, tabbing rookie Emiliano Grillo of Argentina and India’s Anirban Lahiri. Price said Grillo, who finished 11th in the points standings, was a “no-brainer,” and a unanimous selection between the team captains and players. He will be 25 on Sept. 14.

Lahiri, 30, gets a second go at the Presidents Cup having missed a short putt on the final hole in South Korea that would have given the Internationals a tie two years ago. He and American Chris Kirk went to the final hole all square in their singles match, with Kirk chipping to 15 feet and Lahiri to 4 feet. Kirk made his putt, and Lahiri missed. When Bill Haas secured his point, the Americans, who are 9-1-1 in the competition, were winners again.

Price said he gave consideration to Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, a fourth-place finisher at the WGC-Dell Match Play who finished 12th in points, but in the end he and his assistants decided on No. 16 Lahiri, who brings experience.

“We felt we wanted some players who played the U.S. tour full-time,” Price said. “There’s a certain amount of comfort. Both are very enthusiastic young men.”

The Presidents Cup is slated for Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Liberty National, just across the Manhattan skyline in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Mickelson competed in the very first Presidents Cup in 1994 and never has missed one. In fact, his selection marks the 23rdconsecutive year that he has competed for either the Presidents or Ryder Cup squad. In the Presidents Cup, Mickelson boasts a record of 23-16-12; his 11 teammates on the U.S. roster have a combined record of 15-20-4.

“It means a lot to me,” Mickelson said in a Golf Channel interview. “What means a lot to me this year is that the captains and the players wanted me on the team even though I didn’t get the spot on my own. It meant a lot that they wanted me there, because I really love being around these guys.”

This is the second consecutive Presidents Cup that Mickelson has been added to the roster as a captain’s pick. Jay Haas named him two years ago for the matches in South Korea, when Mickelson finished 30th in points, and Mickelson responded with a 3-0-1 record in a narrow one-point U.S. victory. With his T-6 on Monday at Dell Technologies, Mickelson moved from 18th to 15th in points.

“He certainly has whatever that ‘X factor’ is that you can use in the team room,” said U.S. teammate Matt Kuchar of Mickelson.

The U.S. had 10 automatic qualifiers via a two-year points table, and Hoffman was inside that group until last week’s event at TPC Boston, when Kevin Chappell inched past him by a fraction of a point. Hoffman did not win this season, but he has seven top 10s and played nicely in some bigger events.

Hoffman played on the weekend at all four majors, and following his eighth-place showing at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, he ran off three top-3 finishes in five starts (T-3, Travelers; 2, RBC Canadian Open; 3, WGC-Bridgestone). He owns four PGA Tour victories, the last being the 2016 Texas Open. Hoffman’s solid play this season has enabled him to climb from 66th (at the start of 2017) to 22nd in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Stricker said he brings length and improved putting to the team.

“He’s got a lot of confidence,” Stricker said of Hoffman, who has had a pair of runner-up finishes in 2017. “He’s knocked on the door a lot this year, he just hasn’t punched through it.”

Hoffman and Mickelson will join Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner, Patrick Reed and Kevin Chappell. Those making the International team via automatic qualifying: Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Si Woo Kim, Jhonnatan Vegas and Adam Hadwin.

Last month in Akron at the WGC-Bridgestone, as Stricker was sizing up his options for captain’s picks, he had a conversation with Mickelson and told the Hall of Famer that he needed to show him something. Stricker knew that what he said came out sounding a bit odd considering Mickelson’s resume, and told him he was sorry for even stating it.

“It’s weird coming from a guy who’s won no majors and has only won 12 times on Tour, telling Phil that hey, you’ve got to show me a little bit more,” Stricker said recently at the opening FedEx Cup playoff event in New York. “And I apologized to him for that. It doesn’t sound right coming from a guy like me. But really, help me out.”

Mickelson’s sixth-place tie at TPC Boston on Monday, factored against  a group of players just outside the top 10 that didn’t do anything great to stand out from the crowd, was enough for Stricker to make his call.

Stricker has said he knew he had two easy phone calls to make and dreaded those he’d need to make to those players who fell short. But in the end, the calls were easier than he thought they might be. Stricker said there was a common theme among those on the outside with whom he spoke, which included three players – Brian Harman (12), Jason Dufner (13) and Gary Woodland (14) – ranked higher than Mickelson.

“I called everybody inside the top 20 and they said the same thing – they didn’t play well enough down the stretch,” Stricker said. “Nobody really stepped up at the end to show us anything, except for Phil at the end.”

Big Apple, rest easy. The big left-hander is on his way.

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