Mickelson says he doesn’t deserve or expect a Presidents Cup wild card
Noren eyes French Open title defence at scene of Ryder Cup triumph
Phil Mickelson: “I am starting to play much better golf and I’m excited about this upcoming season.” Photograph: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Phil Mickelson admits he does not deserve a wild card for the Presidents Cup and feels United States captain Tiger Woods has “a lot better options” at his disposal.
Mickelson has made 24 consecutive appearances in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, qualifying automatically 20 times. The last time the five-time Major winner failed to make such a team was in 1993.
However, since winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, Mickelson has recorded just one top-20 finish on the PGA Tour – a tie for 18th at the Masters – and has slipped to 47th in the world.
Mickelson moved inside the world’s top 50 for the first time after finishing runner-up in the Casio World Open in November 1993 and has never fallen out since.
Asked about receiving one of the four wild cards Woods has available, Mickelson told a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the CJ Cup: “No, no, no. I have not played well in the last seven, eight months. There are much better options of players that have played consistently at a high level that deserve to be on the team and I have not . . . even if I were to win [this week], I have not done enough to warrant a pick.
“I’m not asking for one, I don’t expect one. I think there’s a lot better options for the US side. I would like to add that I am starting to play much better golf and I’m excited about this upcoming season and I’m excited about making the Ryder Cup team next year and I plan on doing that.”
Mickelson is part of a strong field on Jeju Island which features Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood, US Open champion Gary Woodland, 2017 winner Justin Thomas and defending champion Brooks Koepka.
Koepka’s four-shot win over Woodland last year saw him become world number one for the first time and the four-time Major winner has now spent a total of 31 weeks at the top of the rankings in four spells.
“It’s nice to be back,” said Koepka. “It’s been a warm welcome back. It’s a place I’ve enjoyed. Obviously winning last year and getting to world number one, it’s always been a special place for me.
“The golf course looks in great shape. Everybody always treats us well here, so that’s why you can see there’s such a good field this year. Guys are talking about it and it should be a popular spot on the Tour for the next few years.”
Koepka revealed at the start of the month that he underwent stem cell treatment in his left knee shortly after the Tour Championship and the 29-year-old could undergo more during the off-season.
“My knee’s fine, it feels good,” he added. “It bugged me since March maybe, but everything’s fine now. Did my rehab, my recovery and there shouldn’t be any issues.
“Hopefully there might be one more round of stem cells maybe before the end of the year during some off time. But other than that, I feel great. My knee feels good. It’s the first time it’s been feeling consistently good in a while.”
Meanwhile, Ryder Cup star Alex Noren returns to the scene of two of the most memorable moments of his career as he targets a successful title defence in the Amundi Open de France.
Noren trailed by seven shots heading into the final round last year, but a closing 67 in difficult conditions proved enough for the Swede to win his 10th European Tour title.
Three months later Noren again found himself on the 18th green at Le Golf National with the celebrations of Europe’s Ryder Cup victory already well under way, before holing a lengthy birdie putt to beat Bryson DeChambeau and set the seal on the seven-point triumph.
“That was amazing, maybe the best moment of my golfing career,” Noren said. “I know the whole match was over but my game was still going and the coaches and the captains told us to keep going until the end of every match and it just felt great to finish my game like that.”
Noren has failed to record a top-10 finish in 22 tournaments this season but was 15th in the Dunhill Links Championship recently and believes there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“It feels a little better, I’ve played decent the last few weeks,” he added. “I haven’t had the season I want to but it’s definitely getting better and it’s going in the right direction. A win would be very nice but I’ve just got to play as hard as I can.”
Noren, who reached a career-high of eighth in the world after winning the 2017 BMW PGA Championship, has slipped to 53rd but is still the highest-ranked player in a field which features just five other players in the top 100.
The tournament is no longer part of the European Tour’s lucrative Rolex Series and has seen its prize fund fall from €5.46 million to €1.38 million, while also moving from the end of June to mid October.