Mickelson's presence is big boost for US team

INCHEON (South Korea) • Jay Haas has backed his decision to give a Presidents Cup captain's pick to veteran Phil Mickelson, saying the five-time Major winner offered something "intangible" to the United States' golf team.

As the players headed out for their first full day of practice at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in the South Korean city of Incheon yesterday, Haas strongly defended his decision to choose Mickelson as one of two picks in his 12-man team after the player finished only 30th in the US qualifying list.

"I don't think there were any negatives to any of the players that we passed over," said Haas. "I think Phil (and) the intangible that he brought to the team maybe put him over the top."

Mickelson, 45, is the only man to play at every Presidents Cup since its inception in 1994, when he was also a captain's pick.

The amiable "Lefty" was runner-up to team-mate Jordan Spieth at the Masters in April, but has shown little form since, registering just two top-10 finishes and falling to 24th in the world.

INTANGIBLE QUALITIES

Obviously you cannot replace his experience in this. He's doing everything we've asked of him and he seems to be relishing that role.

JAY HAAS, United States' Presidents Cup captain, on veteran Phil Mickelson

But he has also played in the last 10 Ryder Cups and has scored more Presidents Cup points than anyone else in the event's history.

Haas believes experience will be invaluable as the US try to extend a proud record in the biennial matchplay team event, which starts tomorrow. They have lost only once, in 1998.

"Obviously you cannot replace his experience in this," added Haas, who said Mickelson's mere presence in Incheon was a huge lift to the team. "He's doing everything we've asked of him and he seems to be relishing that role."

He said the choice of the left-handed Mickelson had been unanimously endorsed by the other players and his assistant captains, Fred Couples, Davis Love and Steve Stricker.

Mickelson said the best way he could repay Haas' faith in him was by scoring points for the team.

"As a player you want to play well. That's the thing that you can really bring to the table. You play well, make a lot of birdies and make points, that's the idea, that's the goal as a player," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'Mickelson's presence is big boost for US team'. Print Edition | Subscribe