WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, PENNSYLVANIA – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, golf’s most prominent players for more than two decades, never realized the Ryder Cup would mean so much.
For Woods, it’s the culmination of a comeback that began in January after a fourth surgery on his lower back. For Mickelson, who will be setting a record by playing in his 12th Ryder Cup, it means the 48-year-old gets what he believes will be his last chance to capture that gold trophy away from home.
U.S. captain Jim Furyk added them to his team Tuesday evening as wild-card selections, along with Bryson DeChambeau.
Woods agreed to be a vice captain in late February, and set a goal to be in Paris on Sept. 28-30 as a player.
“It’s incredible, it really is, to look back at the start of the year and now to have accomplished a goal like that,” Woods said. “To be a part of this team, and now to be a player is just . . . beyond special.”
Mickelson had qualified for every team since 1995, a streak that ended this year when he finished No. 10 in the standings. His 12th appearance breaks the Ryder Cup record held by Nick Faldo.
Mickelson has only been on three winning teams — at Brookline in 1999, Valhalla in 2008 and two years ago at Hazeltine. His last time overseas was at Gleneagles, in Scotland, where he infamously closed out a losing press conference by questioning captain Tom Watson and the direction the PGA of America was taking the U.S. team.
“This is mostly likely my last chance to go over to Europe and to be a part of a winning U.S. team in Europe. We haven’t done that in 25 years,” Mickelson said. “I set out this year on really a strong commitment and journey to get on the team. I got off to a great start this year. It’s been a really good year, and although I fell just shy of making it on points, it feels great to be a part of this team and serve this team in any way I can.”
Furyk still has one more captain’s pick he will announce on Monday after the BMW Championship, and it might not be as easy as this one.
“Not that it was an easy decision,” Furyk said with a smile. “But it could have been a lot more difficult.”
DeChambeau narrowly missed out on one of the eight automatic spots by missing the cut at the PGA Championship, and the 24-year-old Californian knew he had to show Furyk some form in the three weeks before the picks were announced.
“I wanted to be a part of this experience so badly that I worked twice as hard,” DeChambeau said. “And it showed, and it paid off.”
The eight Americans who qualified on their own were Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed.