Phil Mickelson has never missed a Presidents Cup since its inception in 1994. The 49-year-old PGA legend featured for the United States in all 12 iterations of the event, but his fixture on the U.S. squad will come to an end in December as the biannual Presidents Cup returns to Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia.
“It was going to come to an end at some time, unfortunately all things do. It just happened to be this year,” said United States Presidents Cup team captain Tiger Woods in an NBC golf interview this week.
Ultimately, it was up to Woods to exclude Mickelson from this year’s event, as Woods had the opportunity to select four more players for the 12-man squad as his captain’s picks. The first eight were chosen based on the Official World Golf Ranking. After selecting Tony Finau, Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed, Woods released a statement for his final pick.
“As captain, I’m going to choose Tiger Woods as the last player on the team. He’s made nine Cups, and he’s played in Australia twice. This will be his third appearance there. Interesting that I’m talking third person,” Woods said.
If anyone has the right to choose themselves and speak in the third person in a public statement, it’s Woods. After emerging triumphant at the Zozo Championship in October, the 43-year-old Woods tied Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour victories in history at 82 (*insert goat emoji*).
Furthermore, Woods is now No. 7 in the Official World Golf Ranking, where he has climbed after ending 2017 ranked No. 656. This makes him the fifth-ranked golfer in the Presidents Cup, trailing four fellow Americans: No. 1 Brooks Koepka, No. 3 Dustin Johnson, No. 4 Justin Thomas and No. 6 Patrick Cantlay.
The Presidents Cup pits the United States against the International Team, comprised of all countries aside from those in Europe (save them for the Ryder Cup). This year, the whole of the United States team, excluding No. 22 Matt Kuchar, are ranked above their international counterparts.
The International Team is headlined by No. 17 Adam Scott, No. 20 Hideki Matsuyama, No. 27 Marc Leishman and led by veteran captain Ernie Els, who did not elect himself to play as Woods did.
Scott will be reprising his role on the International squad for the ninth time, making him the most experienced golfer on both sides of the event. Scott is the only Presidents Cup participant who competed in 2011, the second and most recent time Royal Melbourne hosted the event.
In the Presidents Cup’s 25-year history, the International Team has only snatched a single victory. This came 21 years ago, the first time Royal Melbourne facilitated the four-day match. Since then, the United States has dominated, emerging triumphant in every single Presidents Cup except for 2003, in which there was the first and only tie in cup history.
The numbers suggest that the United States will remain in possession of the cup, but so do the teams on their own — the U.S. is stacked. And while Mickelson won’t be in Australia for the Presidents Cup for the first time in 25 years, you can bet the United States will finish with a title just as it always has.
Ethan Waters covers men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].