Golf: PGA Championship not enough to nail down Ryder Cup berth, says Mickelson

Phil Mickelson with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament in South Carolina, on May 23, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Phil Mickelson said his historic Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Championship triumph isn't enough to earn a Ryder Cup berth and he'll need to do more to warrant selection for the US team to take on Europe in September.

"If I'm the captain, I'm not going to want a guy who plays well one week in an entire year," Mickelson said on Wednesday (May 26) as he prepared to tee it up on the US PGA Tour in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

"And so just because I played really well last week and won a big championship, that does not warrant a spot on the team by any means.

"But I know at least I have an opportunity over the course of the next three months to play at a high level consistently and maybe be in a position to add something to the team."

Mickelson has been on every US Ryder Cup squad since making his debut in the team tournament in 1995.

On Sunday, the 50-year-old Mickelson became the oldest man to win a Major golf championship with his PGA triumph at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

He captured his sixth career Major and was hailed as an inspiration by a bevy of young golfers as well as those of more mature years.

"There's no reason why people can't be their best at an older age," Mickelson said.

"After many years of doing something, you have a lot of experience. You have a lot of knowledge and getting that out is the challenge. It might take a little bit more work like you might have to work a bit harder for me physically or you might have to be more disciplined off the golf course or practice more especially, all these things.

"But there's no reason why we can't be our best later on in life."

That said, Mickelson acknowledged he didn't know if his victory at Kiawah was a harbinger of things to come, or a glorious swansong.

"One of two things is going to happen: Either that's going to be my last win and I'm going to have one of the most cherished victories of my career to look back on and cherish for a long time, or I also may have kind of found a little something that helps me stay a little bit more present and helps me focus throughout round a little bit longer and maybe I can execute and play golf at the highest level for a nice extended period of time now," Mickelson said.

"I don't know which one it's going to be but, either way, they are both positive."

Mickelson acknowledged victories this year for mature golfers - Stewart Cink in the RBC Heritage and on the European Tour Richard Bland, who, at 48, became the oldest first-time winner on the European Tour at the British Masters.

But he said playing with young players, including Xander Schauffele and Charley Hoffman had helped him sharpen his game.

And if he isn't on a 13th Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits in September, he believes the US squad will be well-stocked with talent.

"If not, we have such a good group of young players, I don't want to disrupt that, either. We have a lot of talented players and I've had 25 years now of playing, so it may be time to step aside and let these young guys take over and certainly they are playing well enough and to do it and represent the United States incredibly well," said Mickelson, who has jumped 36 places in the US team standings to 16th.

The top-six players through the BMW Championship in August automatically qualify and captain Steve Stricker will make six at-large selections.

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