Slump-mired Mickelson no lock for USA in Presidents Cup

Slump-mired Mickelson no lock for USA in Presidents Cup

Slump-mired Mickelson no lock for USA in Presidents Cup

Charlotte (AFP) - Phil Mickelson has played in all 11 Presidents Cups, but after missing the cut Friday at the PGA Championship, the five-time major winner still hasn't convinced US captain Steve Stricker he belongs on the squad again next month.

The 47-year-old left-hander hasn't won since capturing the 2013 British Open and has struggled with form. Missing the cut at the PGA for the first time since 1995 on 11-over 153 won't help his cause either.

"He told me he wants to be on this team more than anything. I would love to see him on the team," Stricker said. "But just like anybody else, I've got to see who is playing well at the time. I know he's struggling a little bit right now.

"I told him I would like to see him play well here on out to show me something and that doesn't sound right coming from a guy like me talking to Phil. That's basically what I said. Show me that you are playing good at the end of the year."

Stricker will guide the US team in quest of a seventh consecutive victory next month in the biennial showdown with a non-European Internationals lineup set to feature Japan's third-ranked Hideki Matsuyama and Australia's Jason Day.

World number one Dustin Johnson, British Open winner Jordan Spieth and US Open champion Brooks Koepka are among those set for the Americans, who lead the rivalry 9-1-1.

Mickelson ranks 17th in points but hopes for strong showings in the US PGA playoffs to bump his way into 10 spots available on points or convince Stricker he deserves one of two captain's picks.

"If I can play well in those, I have a chance to get on the team on my own," Mickelson said.

"If I play well in them and don't make it, I have a chance to be a pick. But I've got to play well in them is the thing."

Mickelson, whose 100th major start ended two days earlier this week than he wanted, said focus is a key problem, not shotmaking.

"It's not like I'm hitting the ball crooked," he said. "I'm just hitting it in the wrong spots. Not really controlling my thought process where I want the ball to go.

"I'm not real focused out there. I'm having a tough time visualizing the shot. I'm having a tough time controlling my thoughts and not letting it wonder to what I don't want to have happen. On the range, I'm having some of the best sessions, swinging the club fine, striking it pretty good."

Among other US Cup hopefuls not in the currents points positions, Gary Woodland and Patrick Reed were near the top of the leaderboard as the weekend loomed at Quail Hollow.

Stricker said Mickelson's familiarity with the host course, Liberty National in suburban New York, won't be a factor. The intangibles he brings to a locker room might be, however, if his game is good enough.

"I know how important he is on the team, how good he is with the young guys and in the locker room and that kind of stuff," Stricker said. "He's got a couple of events, probably in the playoffs. That's all we're going to have before we make the pick. Hopefully he can get hot in there.

"Really we need the best guys playing the best at the end of the year going forward. That's what we're going to be looking at."

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