Stricker, in Wisconsin for a kickoff event along with Padraig Harrington who is set to serve as European captain, was asked about Mickelson in a press conference and provided a very candid answer about the chances of the man affectionately known as “Lefty” chasing down a spot on the squad by the time everyone returns to the Dairy State next year.
“It looks like Phil is getting thinner and working on his calves and hitting more bombs so anything is possible with Phil,” Stricker told the media candidly as shown in a Golf Digest tweet. Mickelson, of course, is fond of tweeting about his calves and also his affinity for hitting bombs. Well played, Mr. Stricker.
Mickelson could still have a serious chance to make the team, even though he’d be an elder statesman on the roster given he will be 50 by the time the event is played in a year. There also figures to be plenty of changes on the roster, with more young players than ever eying a chance to compete for the prestigious honor of competing on the team in the event.
In 2019, Mickelson has endured an up and down year on the course. He won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am in February, but struggled in majors with his best finish a T24 in The Open Championship. In order to state a case for the Ryder Cup squad, he will have to play consistently in order to not leave things up to the chance of a captain’s pick. That might be Mickelson’s best chance to crack the roster.
The United States team is coming off a major disappointment in the 2018 Ryder Cup in which Mickelson struggled, going 0-2 in the matches and losing his Sunday singles match to Francesco Molinari which would prove to be the decisive point in Europe winning the trophy back. As a whole, Mickelson is 18-20-7 in Ryder Cup play, which is a fairly below average record for someone with his overall talent.
What Mickelson does always bring, though, is an indomitable spirit to the team room, something which could prove to be vital to the squad and particularly their younger players. Mickelson has the respect of his teammates and could be a quality veteran influence in the room. Additionally, his short game is still on point.
Stricker also admitted that he feels there might be a change afoot on his team for some change considering the younger players who have been playing well and stating a case.
“We’re a year away from making our picks, but you got some great younger players who are starting to prove themselves and we’re going to have the mainstays as well. Just keep looking at it, I get those emails on a weekly basis to see the point system and see how everyone’s playing. If they make the top eight they deserve to be there, and then it’s up to us to pick those last four guys,” he told the media.
Whether someone like Mickelson ends up on that list is anyone’s guess right now, but clearly, Stricker is ready to watch and see how it will play out.