Staff writer Andy Vasquez with a quick tour of three key holes at Liberty National, where the Presidents Cup will be played later this week. Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Jersey City.
JERSEY CITY — Phil Mickelson seems comfortable wearing the red, white and blue. And for good reason. This year’s Presidents Cup, at Liberty National Golf Course, marks the 23rd consecutive time that Mickelson is representing the United States in team event.
It’s a remarkable, unmatched feat. One some of his teammates can’t even fathom.
“I can’t — especially because I was 1 when he played in his first one, which is really crazy to think,” said American golfer Justin Thomas, a 24-year-old making his first appearance in a team event.
“It’s crazy, it is,” Thomas continued. “To be that good for that long and to have the reputation that he does, being that much of a leader, a role model in the team rooms … I don’t know if it will ever be topped, I hope Jordan [Spieth] or myself or anybody else can give it a run but who knows.”
Mickelson, like Thomas, was 24 years old when he made his first team event appearance at the 1994 Presidents Cup. He’s played on every U.S. Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup since.
Spieth, who celebrated his 24th birthday in July, may have a chance. This Presidents Cup marks his fifth team event. But Austrailian golfer Adam Scott, making his eighth appearance for the International Team, believes it will be tough.
“I think it’s going to become harder and harder for players to play at the top level for long periods of time,” Scott said. “You’re just seeing more and more young guys really performing high and less guys over 40 able to maintain golf at the top level. It doesn’t mean that you can’t win big tournaments past 40, but to stay at the top week in, week out, it seemingly is getting tougher. A record like that may never be touched.”
If the record ever is touched, it will have to be by an American. European players are eligible only for the Ryder Cup, and other international players are eligible only for the Presidents Cup. Those events are played only every two years. Only American golfers play every year.
Who knows how much longer the streak will last? Mickelson has struggled with his play lately and didn’t qualify for the team on points this year — he was a captain’s selection. But Mickelson calls the accomplishment “one of the things I’m most proud of.” But he thinks it may one day be broken.
“I think that it will be done,” Mickelson said. “I believe because there’s so many talented players that I believe will have the longevity. But right now it’s something I’m really proud of.”
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