Let's face it: the Presidents Cup is just not a compelling competition. Initially an attempt by Tim Finchem to milk some more profits in the wake of the Ryder Cup, the matches have had some nice moments (Royal Montreal and Melbourne), but lacks much sizzle when the venues are lacking (like, now and in the foreseeable future). Short of bringing back stymies or going to magnificent courses, there is no real reason to get interested in the biennial competition as it heads to Korea this year.
Yet the captains did their best to make it compelling Tuesday with edgy selections, notably Nick Price picking soon-to-be-exiled-to-military-serviceman and rising star Sangmoon Bae, who gets to play in his native South Korea (assuming some crazy General doesn't intervene!).
On the U.S. side, Jay Haas and son Bill said all the right things in explaining the very justifiable captain's pick by father of son.
But the pick of the day that generated the most social media vitriol: Phil Mickelson by Haas as America's second option over names like Holmes, Snedeker, Horschel.
Golfweek's Jeff Babineau is perplexed by the Mickelson captain's pick.
Forgetting about the Gleneagles mutiny he helped to lead in one of the more bizarre post-event pressers of all time, Phil has been a model ambassador on Tour, the kind of guy who shows up to some city, smiles a bunch and signs as many autographs as any three other players combined.
Hey, wives are a big part of the team events, don’t forget, and in Amy Mickelson, Team USA gets a modern-day Barbara Nicklaus. Friendly, genuine, highly popular. The real deal.
But what does the U.S. get in adding Phil the player, the one who stands before us today at 45? Well … that’s the painful part, the part in which the needle screeches across the vinyl, and where everything grinds to an awkward halt. Sadly, performance-wise, elevating Mickelson onto the Presidents Cup team makes no real sense.
Since walking off the green with his fifth major – and first Claret Jug – in the summer of 2013, Mickelson has pretty much been an invisible man as a competitor. As much as he has tried to fire up the engine the last two years, losing weight, getting fit, pounding balls … the motor just hasn’t turned over. He hasn’t won in 26 months. That’s quite a spell. In 39 starts over two seasons, he has contended two times, albeit in majors.
**Bob Harig couldn't make the case for Phil on his play, and wonders if this was a celebratory selection or something else.
Or maybe it's something more, a bit behind the scenes, inside the team room, so to speak.
Could Mickelson's pick to be part of the U.S. Presidents Cup team be a form of validation, a nod to what Lefty did last September at Gleneagles, when he shockingly spoke his mind and questioned the captaincy of Tom Watson, as well as the direction the PGA of America was going as it related to the Ryder Cup?
Mickelson took plenty of grief in the aftermath of that entire episode, but you didn't hear much, if anything, from those who were there as the Americans suffered another defeat at the hands of Europe, a third straight, and sixth out of the past seven.