Phil Mickelson Holds Higher Place in This PGA Tour Loyalist’s Heart

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Team US lost the Ryder Cup in a saddening manner. The loss raised a few questions about the team’s leadership, missing key players from LIV Golf, and lack of teamwork. The public and experts alike wondered what was missing in the team that the Europeans had. Was it Rory McIlroy or Jon Rahm?

Phil Mickelson

Hunter Mahan, the three-time Ryder Cupper, shared his thoughts on what Team US lacked. He said there was a missing leader like Phil Mickelson at the 44th edition of the Ryder Cup.

Hunter Mahan and Phil Mickelson’s friendship goes back to the early days of his career. Mahan made his debut in 2003 and has won one Ryder Cup through his 3 appearances. He was on the 2008 Ryder Cup team with Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Stewart Cink, and Rickie Fowler at Valhalla when Team US dominated team Europe and won by 16 1⁄2 and 11 1⁄2 score. Coincidentally, Team US lost by the same points at this year’s Ryder Cup.

The veteran made an appearance on the Golf Digest podcast Loop and shared an element that was missing and which caused the US Team’s upsetting loss. Mahan explained the importance of having a leader other than the captain. He said having a player who can say, “Are you bleeping ready to go?” is crucial for a team’s spirit and momentum.

While discussing about excluding players from LIV Golf affected American gameplay, He reminisced over one player whose addition had benefitted the team. And who came out as the leader at the 2010 Ryder Cup? It was none other than Phil Mickelson. Mahan claimed Mickelson to be an “Incredible and credible leader.”

He also said that the one guy who was missing from the LIV Golf was Mickelson. “Because Phil can get up and stand up in front of everybody. And everyone’s gonna listen. Yeah, and there’s a passion to him and there really is for all the c**p that he’s taken,” Mahan said. Adding more, Hunter explained his bias towards Mickelson and said, ‘I can’t say anything bad about him because he has been so important to me.” The veterans have a strong camaraderie, as Mickelson had helped Mahan at the emotional turn of his career.

Phil Mickelson lands a helping hand to Hunter Mahan
At the 2010 Ryder Cup, the victory depended on 1 single point. It was Hunter Mahan against Graeme McDowell in the singles match. If Mahan had secured that win, Team US could have won on European soil after 17 years. Unfortunately, Mahan lost that match and the Cup for the country.

After the match ended, it was Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson who consoled him. In a podcast, Mahan said, “Phil was there with me, He sat right next to me.” The post-match press conference was brutal, and Phil helped Mahan by diverting the questions to himself rather than to him.

Team US could not match the empathy from lefty and leadership at the 2023 Ryder Cup led by Zach Johnson. However, we can see a fiery comeback at the 2025 Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black and hope to see a better camaraderie.

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