Sir Nick Faldo welcomed Phil Mickelson into the “Six Major Club” – which before Sunday was only populated by him and Lee Trevino – and declared that the left-hander should be given the chance to break another “oldest ever” record at September’s Ryder Cup.
Mickelson moved up 36 places in the US standings courtesy of winning the USPGA Championship on Sunday, but currently lying 16th is still likely to need one of Steve Stricker’s six wildcards.
Stricker was non committal at the Ocean Course when asked about Mickelson’s candidature – albeit before the 50-year-old won to break Julius Boros’ record as the oldest major winner. But Faldo believes the home captain should and will select the evergreen left-hander.
“I’m very happy and impressed to welcome Phil into the ‘Six Major Club’ with Lee – we could do with some company after, what 25 years together, apart from when Tiger (Woods) popped in for a brief spell.” Faldo told Telegraph Sport. “And I’m pretty sure Mr Stricker will be more than considering Phil for the Ryder Cup now. Whistling Straits is another Pete Dye ‘linksy’ test and it’s only right because back in the old days the [US] PGA winner was an automatic place in the US team, wasn’t it?”
The PGA of America dropped that regulation in 1991 – ironically the year that the match took place at the Ocean Course – with John Daly the first Wanamaker Trophy winner to miss out.
Since then Rich Beem is the only American to win the USPGA in a Ryder Cup year and not play – although in 2002 the teams were selected in 2001 before the match was postponed – and the wise money is for Mickelson to get the nod to make an unprecedented 13th appearance.
Mickelson would become the oldest ever Ryder Cup player, scratching out the name of Ray Floyd who was 51 years and 20 days on the first day of the 1993 Ryder Cup.
Yet despite finishing in a tie for fourth on Sunday – his first PGA Tour top 10 in nine years – Padraig Harrington insists he will be a captain and a captain alone in Wisconsin.
“I’m well past that time,” the 49-year-old said. “I’m too long in the tooth now at this stage, sweating through five rounds of golf and all that goes with it.
“I’m very much dedicated to being the captain. I’m letting other people have their time. I had mine. And you can’t do both. Nobody’s ever going to be a Ryder Cup captain and a player at the same time.”
His compatriot Shane Lowry, however, has increased his chances. The reigning Open champion played with Harrington in the final round and matched his score also to finish in a tie for fourth. It moved the 34 year old up to 10th in the standings, just one behind the last automatic berth, now held by out-of-form Frenchman Victor Perez.
“Shane as we know is a big-time player and likes playing big golf courses on the big occasion,” Harrington added. “There’s a quality about him; he wouldn’t stand on a tee box and fear anybody.
“There’s nine guys there at the moment, but if you want to get a pick, you’re going to have to impress because there’s plenty of guys. I seem to have an abundance of players in that running for those three picks.
“You’ve got to think six, seven players who could be in the running, and you’ve just got to impress. Shane did a good job and certainly did himself no harm and we’ll see how the next couple of months go.”