LOUISVILLE Kentucky (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson narrowly missed out on a sixth major victory at the PGA Championship on Sunday but the 44-year-old would take some consolation from the fact he had played his way onto the United States Ryder Cup team for a record 10th time.
Heading into the year’s final major, the American left-hander had been one spot outside the automatic top-nine selections for Tom Watson’s team to take on holders Europe in Gleneagles, Scotland from Sept. 26-28.
The PGA Championship was the final qualifying event and Mickelson climbed from 10th to fifth place in the U.S. point standings by finishing second at Valhalla Golf Club, one stroke behind winner Rory McIlroy.
Mickelson had said at the start of the week how important it was for him to qualify for Watson’s team on merit, rather than have to rely on being one of three wildcard picks.
“I’m confident that I’ll get on the team on my own and won’t require that pick,” the Californian said on the eve of the tournament.
“I want to keep that streak going of two decades that I have. I want to keep that going of making the team on my own and not needing a pick.”
Mickelson has played in every Ryder Cup since he made his debut for the United States in 1995, competing on winning teams in 1999, at Brookline, and in 2008, at Valhalla.
The other automatic qualifiers for the team were Masters champion Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson.
The man dropping out of the automatic spots was Jason Dufner, who withdrew from Valhalla during the opening round.
Dufner has been hampered by two bulging disks in his neck and is expected to be miss the rest of the season having been advised by doctors to take a break from the game for six-to-eight weeks.
The Americans are already without long-hitting Dustin Johnson, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence to deal with “personal challenges”, and there are concerns over world number six Kuchar, who withdrew before the start of the PGA Championship due to back spasms.
Captain Watson will announce his three wildcard picks on Sept. 2, the day after the PGA Tour’s Deutsche Bank Championship finishes in Norton, Massachusetts.
Editing by Peter Rutherford