Out of Bounds: thumbs up from Mickelson in Bethpage Ryder Cup audition
New York course will hold 2024 tournament with ‘Lefty’ a live captaincy contender
Phil Mickelson high fives fans during the US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. Photograph: Mike Ehrmann/Getty
Phil Mickelson wasn’t a factor at the US PGA at Bethpage, at least not when it came to actually winning the Wanamaker Trophy. Where ‘Lefty’ came into his own was in engaging with the “fans” which packed into the course on Long Island, and who provided more than a hint of what will come when it plays host to the Ryder Cup in 2024.
That Ryder Cup will be one lived on the edge, for sure. The odds are very much stacked in favour of Mickelson wearing the captain’s arm band for Team USA for that match, and it seemed for much of his involvement in the PGA there last week that he was very much auditioning for the role.
Like confetti at a wedding, there were no shortages of high-fives delivered to fans as he walked from green to tee box and there was certainly no shortage of the thumbs-up gestures which Phil delivered. He even made a social media post about it, taking his hand out of a bowl of ice to reveal he had broken the “record” for thumbs-ups in a round: 1,397 of them, according to the man himself.
Who knows for sure? But such self-deprecation will be required in spades if there is to be any chance of mellowing the home crowd when that Ryder Cup is played for a first time at Bethpage Black, where the New York crowd seemed determined to live up the stereotypical image of being brash, rude and way over the top.
It’ll also be very interesting who Europe chose as captain for that particular match. Will be a case of meeting fire with fire by going with, say, Ian Poulter? Or, perhaps, attempting to quell the fire by deploying an iceman, say Henrik Stenson, in the position?
Next year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits - where Europe’s captain Pádraig Hartington hopes the large Irish diaspora in the Chicago area will help to dilute home advantage somewhat - is unlikely to see the kind of boorish behaviour that was prevalent for the PGA Championship.
Indeed, Bethpage - in some ways - stands out like a sore thumb (sorry Phil!) when you look at the selected American venues for future Ryder Cups: 2020 - Whistling Straits; 2024 - Bethpage Black; 2028 - Hazeltine; 2032 - Olympic Club, San Francisco; and, 2036 - Congressional, Maryland.
That the PGA of America have gone so far in advance is, for sure, a case of forward planning. Which is in stark contrast to the PGA European Tour, who have not yet gone beyond the 2022 match in Rome for future venues. Apparently, there were 12 expressions of interest from various countries and resorts following last year’s match in Paris about 2026 and beyond. But Adare Manor does remain favourite for the 2026 edition.
Anyway, what we do know is that Bethpage’s turn is coming (five years and counting) and it could put those so-called War on the Shore and Battle of Brookline matches in the ha’penny place!